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How to Draw a Rose – Tutorial

May 9, 2010

A little while ago, Shannon asked me to do a tutorial on how to draw a rose. Well, here it is!

All the principles are the same as drawing a portrait, you’re just working with different shapes.

The first thing I did was head over to the Wetcanvas Reference Image Library to study what a rose actually looks like and to find a good reference. As I browsed through the photos, I began to get a feel for the patterns of light and dark within a rose’s petals. They are deeply shadowed near the base and get lighter as you reach the edges. Here are a few possible references; I put them in grayscale to better see the values.


I will be drawing from the photo on the left, which has the best range of lights and darks. For this tutorial, I won’t be using a grid. When drawing a rose, unlike a portrait, it’s not absolutely necessary that everything be accurate down to the last millimeter. Here it will be enough to use the shapes the petals make in relation to each other to get an accurate rendition of the rose.

As always, start with a line drawing. Use a hard graphite, like a 2H pencil, and press just hard enough to leave a mark. Don’t press so hard that you indent the paper, otherwise you will never get rid of that line.

At this point, don’t focus on drawing a “rose.” Instead, draw the shapes that the petals make as they overlap one another. Pay close attention to the contours of each petal. It’s the little notches and irregularities you see that will help make your rose look as realistic as possible.



Next, still using your 2H, begin to shade in the values. Don’t press hard, but work up the graphite in layers to create some shadows. Shade in everything but the very lightest areas; keep those free of graphite completely.

Be very careful with your edges. You’ll notice in the reference image that some of the shadows have very hard edges and some are very soft and gradual. Try to render these exactly as you see them. This will give the petals volume and show that they are curled and three-dimensional. Don’t bother trying to understand what is happening in the center. Focus on the values and the shapes, and draw those. Blend with a tortillon.



Now take your B pencil and shade in the midtones. Here you’re adding depth and value. Again, pay close attention to the hard and soft edges. Blend.



Next, use your 2B to darken the deepest shadows. This is where you can sharpen some of those edges. Blend it out into the rest of your shading.



The last step in our rose drawing tutorial is to use a kneaded eraser to pull out the highlights and again, to sharpen some of the edges.



And there’s your rose finished! I hope this helps, Shannon, and if anyone else has a request for a tutorial, just get in touch!


PS: Stay tuned for a giveaway announcement in about a week!!


From → Drawing, Tutorials

  1. Marcus Parker permalink

    hi my name is Marcus Parker I am 18 and i just stumbled across your site because i was trying to find my mom some examples of shading for her school work. I like to think of myself as an artist and i would love to show you some of my art and get an opinion from a professional.

    • Hi Marcus, thanks for stopping by! I would love to take a look at your work, I will send you an e-mail.

  2. Itsheroic permalink

    Hi 🙂 I did it! 😀 Thanks to your tutorial I could make a beautiful rose. I’m so happy now, just by looking at my rose XD Thank you!

    • That’s awesome, thanks for sharing! Feel free to post a link if you like 🙂

  3. rasha khan permalink

    hi its cooool but i coudnt make it it is little bt hard

  4. brandon moffitt permalink

    love the rose i am a drawer myself i dont have much of my drawings on the computer but i have some on myyearbook and some on myspace if you would like to look me up and let me know what you think in my email

  5. sarath chandran permalink

    its amazing !!!!
    i tried it and came out to be gud !!!!
    thank u for such an amazing website its really helpful !!!

  6. Laura Bull permalink

    absolutely amazing used for a project for school got me an ace level thanks so much xxx

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