This blog post will go through 3 step-by-step tutorials for rose drawing.
The beauty of roses is unmatched, and you can share that with others by drawing them yourself.
Roses also represent love, so it’s the perfect way to express your feelings in art form. These tutorials are easy enough for beginners but still offer some challenges for more experienced artists as well!
The first tutorial gives you a step-by-step breakdown of how to draw a rosebud and then how to paint it using a watercolor wash.
The second tutorial is how to draw an open pink rose from the side (also how to add a watercolor wash).
The third tutorial is how to draw an open, full red rose, using pencil, pen, and then coloring with Arteza Watercolor Brush Pens.
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So let’s begin…
Collecting your reference images
To paint or draw any natural-world subject, it is important to find a good reference image.
Should you work from your imagination?
You can work from your imagination, but the truth is that most people’s brains leave out important information about the original flower. As a result, the rose may become more stylized or simplified than the original.
If you want to paint a flower or plant in a more abstract or expressionistic manner, then it is absolutely fine to work with a more stylized, simplified drawing. In this case, drawing from your imagination would work well.
In this drawing demonstration, I wanted to capture the smaller details of the roses that I chose and so I worked from photos I found off unsplash.com.
Work from your own photos
Drawing from your own photos is a great way to come up with unique ideas and compositions.
You also have first-hand experience of what the rose looks like in a real-life situation.
This gives you a better idea of how the subject matter “sits in space” so to speak.
Work from a free stock photo
Because I wanted a level of naturalism in my artwork, I chose to work from photographs of roses that I found on unsplash.com.
There are a huge variety of free stock photo sites on the web, but these two are the ones I have used the most for good reference photos.
Decide on the size of your drawing
I find that working on an A4 or A3 sheet of watercolor paper is a good size to start off with for botanical art. The roses I drew are on an A4 sheet of paper.
I would recommend sticking to at least A4 in size, because if you work any smaller you may struggle to get a good amount of detail in your drawing or painting.
Interestingly enough, working on a larger surface is a lot easier than on a smaller surface.
With a larger sheet of paper, you can accentuate details and there is space to enlarge tiny areas. Your pencil marks and brush strokes can be bolder and wider – and there is more room for error in a sense.
How to Draw a Rose Bud
Step 1: Composition and rough drawing of the general shapes of the rosebud
Once you have decided on the size of the paper you will be working on, you can think about your composition and then draw it out in pencil.
Think carefully about how you will position the rosebud on your page.
I recommend using a 2B lead pencil to first softly sketch out the general shapes of thehead of the rosebud. Make sure you are applying only a very light pressure onto the pencil to achieve very light pencil marks on the page.
I started my rosebud drawing by sketching out the oval shape of the head of the rosebud. The petals would fit into this shape.
As you can see, the pencil mark is very light, but hopefully, you can see the general shape.
Step 2: Draw the rosebud stem.
Draw the long rose stem attached to the rosebud. The area of the stem that joins the rosebud should be drawn slightly widened like the base of a rosebud.
Step 3: Draw the first leafy petals.
Lightly draw the tapering leaves that are curling open and the rose unfurls.
Step 4: Draw the shape of the rosebud itself.
Carefully drawing the outline of the rosebud.
Step 5: Draw the overlapping petal.
Draw the petal that overlaps the bud on the left-hand side.
Step 6: Go over in pen.
Once your pencil outline is completed, you can go over it in a permanent pen (I like to use Sakura Micron Pens because the ink flows really well and you can get very fine lines).
Step 7: Start shading the rose stem and first rose leaves.
Using hatching, shade the stem and the first outer leaf petals of the rosebud.
Step 8: Start shading the rosebud.
You can now start adding hatching and cross-hatching to the rosebud itself.
Step 9: Build up shading.
Continue shading the rosebud and the stem until you are satisfied that you have created realistic shadows and highlights on your rose.
Blue Watercolor Rosebud
If you would like to color your rosebud, you can do so using washes of watercolor.
As you begin painting with watercolor you will be using a technique called wet-on-dry. Essentially that means you are putting paint on your paintbrush and then painting directly onto the dry surface of the page. This is a good way to start because you have more control over the areas you are painting color.
Once you have defined your shapes using your initial color you can then work into them using a technique called wet-on-wet.
Wet-on-wet is where you paint you paint your watercolor paint onto a watery surface. The color then blooms and bleeds and creates interesting washes of color. This is less controlled than wet-on-dry, but I love watching how the watercolor pigment creates gorgeous textures and patterns as it dries.
Step 1: Paint the stem and rose leaves.
Using Windsor Green, paint the stem and base leaves of the rosebud. You can see that I don’t cover the entire stem or leaves with watercolor paint because I want to create loose highlights on the forms.
Step 2: Paint first layer of blue rosebud.
Using French Ultramarine, paint a first layer of watercolor on the rose bud, making sure to render shadows with more color, and highlights with less.
Step 3: Final layer of blue on Rosebud.
Paint a final layer of blue on the rosebud to define shadows and create depth.
Step 4: Dab blue rosebud.
Using a piece of kitchen towel, dab excess watercolor pigment off the rosebud to create more highlights and a light quality to the final rosebud.
Pink Rose Drawing (side view) Step-by-Step
Step 1: Draw the first petal.
Lightly draw the first petal of the rose using soft pencil marks. This becomes the shape that anchors the rest of your drawing.
Step 2: Start filling in the additional rose petals.
Start drawing in the first few rose petals around the center.
Step 3: Further rose petals.
Continue drawing in the next rose petals.
Step 4: Final Rose Petals.
Draw the last rose petals.
Step 5: Rose stem and rose leaves.
Draw the long rose stem and the rose leaves.
Step 6: Go over the rose outline in pen.
Using a permanent fine liner, go over the pencil outline using a pen. Once you have erased the pencil marks, you will have a pen drawing of a rose.
Step 7: Start paint watercolor washes onto the first rose petals.
To add color to your rose drawing, you can once again use watercolor washes.
I started out by painting washes of Rose Madder onto the first rose petals.
Step 8: Continue washes on rose petals.
Continue layering your washes of Rose Madder to build up shadow and form.
Step 9: Paint rose stem and leaves.
Using Windsor Green paint the stem and the leaves.
Red Rose Drawing with Watercolor Brush Painting
Step 1: General outline of open rose.
Using a rose drawing reference, lightly draw the rose shape and petals onto your watercolor paper.
Step 2: Fill in rose petals from the middle outwards.
I like to work from the middle of the rose outwards because it enables me to create the rose petals in their natural order.
I filled in my middle rose petal first, then I filled in rose petal 2 and rose petal 3. After that, I worked on rose petals 4 and 5 as you can see here:
Step 3: Sketch in final rose petals.
I then completed the rose drawing by sketching the final rose petals.
Step 4: Sketch rose leaves on the edges.
Using rose leaves as a reference, sketch rose leaves on the rose drawing.
Step 5: Go over rose drawing in pen.
Once you have completed your rose drawing, use a fine liner pen to go over the rose drawing. This will reinforce the rose outline and give it solidity.
Step 6: Red Watercolor Brush Pens for the Center petals.
I start out by painting on an area of the petal using the red watercolor brush pen.
I then go back over the painted area with a watery brush and I work in circular motions to allow the ink to spread and bleed on the petals.
Step 7: Continue coloring the petals with a red watercolor brush pen.
I continue to fill in rose petals with washes of color.
Step 8: Color Green Tea Watercolor Brush pen into the rose petals and as a first layer on the leaves.
Using the rose petals as a reference, paint Green Tea Watercolor brush pen onto the rose petals and also onto the rose leaves.
Step 9: Color leaves using Crocodile Green Watercolor Brush Pens. Final product.
Lastly, I completed the rose leaves using Crocodile Green Watercolor Brush.
Remember the following when drawing…
Make sure to stand back regularly to observe how your drawing is developing. It is also important that you give yourself mental and visual breaks so that you can continue to draw accurately.
Remember to keep your pencil sharp. This is important because often we get so engrossed in our drawing that we forget that a sharp pencil helps with fine lines and details.
It is a good idea to always have a scrap piece of paper nearby, in order to test out your shapes and shading techniques!
List of materials and supplies needed to do your own rose drawing, or rose watercolor!
2B, 4B, 6B, and 8B Pencil
Scrap piece of paper for testing colors
300gsm Watercolor Paper: If you want to add a wash to your drawing you should definitely do your drawing on a good-quality, heavy paper that doesn’t buckle.
Soft Bristle Round or Filbert Brush
Watercolor pans or tubes. I am currently using the Windsor and Newton Watercolor Pan. The colors are rich and the tray itself is portable and easy to use.
Drawing a rose from scratch can seem difficult. However, with the right tutorials and tools, you will be able to master this art form in no time!
There are three different tutorials for drawing roses I am sure that one of them is perfect for your skill level or maybe even all three.
With these step-by-step guides, it should not take more than an hour to learn how to draw a beautiful flower like the ones pictured below.
These tutorials go over everything you need so just pay attention to what materials they mention and follow their steps closely.
If the drawing is all too much for you – read my article on rose templates and grab your free rose printables!
Once you have completed your rose drawing then try using some watercolor paints (or paint pens) and make something truly spectacular!