How to Draw Realistic Roses

Updated on December 9, 2016
Robie Benve profile image

Robie is an artist who believes in the power of positive thinking. She loves sharing art tips and bringing people joy through her paintings.

Drawing Material Is Affordable

Drawing can be done at different levels, from the most amatory and recreational, to the most professional quality. Wherever you are in the range of skills and experience, drawing can be a fun and rewarding activity for children and adults alike.

The starting material required for drawing is affordable and easily available: paper, pencil, and a quality eraser. You can also use charcoal pencil, pen, markers, colored pencils, and more, but paper and pencil will get you started.

Drawing of Roses by author -  Ink pen and colored pencil
Drawing of Roses by author - Ink pen and colored pencil | Source

Drawing Roses

Flowers are among the most popular subjects in still life representations and roses can be considered the queens of flowers.

Many characteristics make roses unique-looking, especially their rich petals, with soft and velvety texture, the ever-present thorns, and the oval leaves.

Whether you draw them accurately and realistically or simplified and abstracts, you need to put in enough details to let the viewer understand what kind of flower it is.

How to Get Started Drawing

Find a reference photo that you’d like to work from or some real roses to draw. Avoid drawing representations of silk flowers; even if they look “close enough” to the real ones, it’s not the same.

Start by drawing the main angles and lines of your subject. Then sketch roughly the main shapes, paying attention to proportions and angles. Measure often in order to place the parts correctly, drawing very lightly at first and including all the shapes in between leaves, petals, etc.

Once you have the main rough shapes of your subjects sketched, start your drawing with many quick pencil strokes, working over each other to make smooth lines and curves.

Don’t be afraid to be messy, as long as you don’t press too hard with your pencil on the paper, you can always erase it later.

Importance of Drawing Negative Spaces

In art, any object or form represented can be defined as positive space. All the space surrounding an object is considered negative space, and it helps defining the object itself.

When drawing a rose, keep in mind that leaves come from the stem at different angles. While drawing, put extra care in trying to render the different angles, proportions, and shades of each leaf.

Always place negative shapes correctly in relations to petals, leaves, and stem. Look carefully at the shape of each area of negative space and place it accurately, keeping the proportions right.

To draw the stem, start on the dark side of the stem by drawing a line with short strokes. If the stem is in front of a leaf, tone the leaf darker behind the light area of the stem, there is no real need for the stem line on the light area of stem.

Negative and Positive Space

Negative Space is the white area. Positive Space is the black area.
Negative Space is the white area. Positive Space is the black area. | Source

Drawing the Rose Flower

Once you have your directional lines and main shapes in, start drawing a small shape, then a larger shape; move on to next shape, relating each one to another and using fine veins as lines to find form. At all times check and double-check the edges of petals, relationships between the petals and directional strokes suggesting form.

Directional strokes help defining and describing forms. Draw curved lines on petals to follow the form, with more pressure applied to shadow areas.

Once you have your shapes, color the shades, starting from the darkest dark.

Keep comparing the lightest value on your drawing with the lightest spot on the object, and adjust the drawing as needed. Similarly, keep comparing the darkest areas as well.

Squint often and continuously look at your drawing and compare to the rose, assess each area of the drawing in relation the others, to achieve correct value variations. Always keep checking for accuracy. This is a great way to develop drawing and observation skills.

Grid Drawing

With the grid drawing technique you can enlarge a subject keeping the proportions.
With the grid drawing technique you can enlarge a subject keeping the proportions. | Source

Grid Drawing Technique

If you are finding difficult to get the proportions right, you can use the grid technique. This works well when you are working from a reference photo.

First you draw a grid of squares or rectangles on your photo. If you don’t want to write on the photo, you can insert it in a plastic sleeve and draw the grid on the plastic.

Then draw a grid on your paper, keep it very light so it does not show after you’ll erase it.

The grid does not have to be the same size, but it needs to be proportioned. That means that if you have squares of 1” x 1” on your photo, you can draw a grid of, for example, 2.5” x 2.5” on your page. This will make your drawing 2.5 times bigger that the referent photo.

Then looking at each square, you visualize the positive and negative shapes, and reproduce them on the corresponding square in the paper. One square at the time, focus on reproducing it, keeping the proportions correct within that specific square.

Keep your strokes light. When you are done reproducing all squares, erase the grid and fix your drawing making it smoother, adding shades, and shape lines.

Sketch of a rose step by step

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Final sketch of a roseInitial lines to determine main directions of shapes (I know, it's hard to see...)Starting to draw the shapes and negative spaces.Starting to mark the darkest shades.Dark areas are giving shave to the rose.Dark background makes the petals pop and help defining edges.Final schetchThe model rose for the sketch
Final sketch of a rose
Final sketch of a rose | Source
Initial lines to determine main directions of shapes (I know, it's hard to see...)
Initial lines to determine main directions of shapes (I know, it's hard to see...) | Source
Starting to draw the shapes and negative spaces.
Starting to draw the shapes and negative spaces. | Source
Starting to mark the darkest shades.
Starting to mark the darkest shades. | Source
Dark areas are giving shave to the rose.
Dark areas are giving shave to the rose. | Source
Dark background makes the petals pop and help defining edges.
Dark background makes the petals pop and help defining edges. | Source
Final schetch
Final schetch | Source
The model rose for the sketch
The model rose for the sketch | Source

By no means I consider myself a master artist, but what I know I enjoy sharing with others. I wrote this article hoping that it will help beginner artists in their drawing process, not because I believe I “know” how to draw.

I hope you found it useful and enjoyable. Happy drawing! : )

Robie Benve

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Robie Benve


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      • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

        Robie Benve 

        4 years ago from Ohio

        Hi Craftytothecore, drawing gets a little easier once you figure out how to look at lines, shapes and proportions instead of the subject matter. A book that helped me a long time ago is "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards, it helps you do that with interesting exercises. Check it out at your local library! :) Thanks a lot for reading and your beautiful comment.

      • CraftytotheCore profile image


        4 years ago

        Robie, I love your painting Hubs! I have such a hard time drawing anything. I can't seem to visualize it and draw it like I see it. For instance, a simple 3-D box looks like a flattened rectangle when I'm done with it. My son on the other hand can think of anything and draw it or built it out of legos. This rose drawing tutorial is well-done. I especially like the thumbnail views and step-to-step instructions.

      • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

        Robie Benve 

        5 years ago from Ohio

        Thanks a lot Frangipanni. :)

      • Frangipanni profile image


        5 years ago

        Lovely work. Thanks for sharing.

      • johncuala profile image

        John Vincent 

        5 years ago from Mandaluyong City

        your welcome

      • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

        Robie Benve 

        5 years ago from Ohio

        Johncuala and Nettlemere, thanks for reading and your comments.

        Nettlemere, I'd love to see your aunt rose design, how flattering that my hum brought back such a lovely memory. :)

      • johncuala profile image

        John Vincent 

        5 years ago from Mandaluyong City


      • Nettlemere profile image


        5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

        This really reminded me of my aunt who was a good artist and did a particularly lovely rose design. You've produced a very clearly explained technique here Robie.

      • johncuala profile image

        John Vincent 

        5 years ago from Mandaluyong City

        very beautifull

      • Robie Benve profile imageAUTHOR

        Robie Benve 

        5 years ago from Ohio

        Hi all, I love art, and even more I love when someone finds my humble knowledge useful. and so many of you commented right away! That truly makes my day, and week, and more! :) Thanks bunches for reading and taking the time to leave such nice comments.

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        What a beautiful sketch. Nice go to resource. Voted up and useful.

      • bizwin profile image

        Christabel Evans 

        5 years ago from England, UK

        I'll see what I can do with this drawing. I think I will definitely take a challenge on this one. Great hub.

      • Dbro profile image


        5 years ago from Texas, USA

        Great hub, Robie!! I appreciate your great teaching and encouraging people to learn to DRAW. So many art hubs encourage budding artists to trace their images. To me this is a bit of a cop-out. Like telling singers to lip sync. Thanks for asking more of artists of all skill levels. Only dedication and practice will produce great art!

      • RTalloni profile image


        5 years ago from the short journey

        Thanks for this look at drawing roses. Your hub is full of helpful drawing tips and your step by step photos do a good job of showing the process.

      • haikutwinkle profile image


        5 years ago

        What beautiful roses!

        Artists definitely have an eye for details...

      • Scribenet profile image


        5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        I have a large collection of rose I will be doing some drawings of roses this winter... this is the winter for drawing projects and this will be one of them! Thanks!

      • carol7777 profile image

        carol stanley 

        5 years ago from Arizona

        I am not going to even try looking at this now. I am going to savor all the information and put it in my robie benve file of learning to paint and draw. Great hub with lots of votes up for my artist friend.


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