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How to Draw a Rose Using a Grid (Step-by-Step)

Robie is an artist who loves sharing what she has learned about art and painting in the hope that it might help other creatives.

Learn how to use a grid to draw realistic roses.

Learn how to use a grid to draw realistic roses.

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, soft and velvety texture, ever-present thorns, and oval leaves.

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

What You'll Need

Drawing can be done at different levels, from the most 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
  • a quality eraser
  • charcoal pencil (optional)
  • pen (optional)
  • colored pencils (optional)

You can use a charcoal pencil, pen, markers, colored pencils, and more, but paper and pencil will get you started.

Start by Drawing Without the Grid

  1. Find a reference photo from which you’d like to work 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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.

Grid Drawing Technique (Step-by-Step)

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

  1. First, you draw a grid of squares or rectangles on your photo. I like using squares because rectangles might get tricky to keep proportional on a different size (see the second step). 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. If you are looking at a digital photo on a screen, you can use a simple photo editor and draw lines on the image.
  2. Draw a grid on your paper. Keep it very light, so it does not show after you’ll erase it. Keep your strokes light. When you are done reproducing all squares, you’ll have to erase the grid.
  3. The two grids don’t have to be the same size, but they need 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 than the reference photo. If you draw rectangles on your photo, make sure you make them of a size that is easy to enlarge.
  4. Look at each square on the reference photo. Visualize the positive and negative shapes.
  5. Draw the shapes on the corresponding square on the paper.
  6. One square at a time, focus on reproducing it, keeping the proportions correct within that specific square. When you are done reproducing all squares, erase the grid and fix your drawing, making it smoother, adding shades and shape lines.
Negative space is the white area. Positive space is the black area.

Negative space is the white area. Positive space is the black area.

Why It's Important to Draw 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 to define 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 relation to petals, leaves, and stems. Look carefully at the shape of each area of negative space and place it accurately, keeping the proportions right.

Drawing the Stem

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 next to the light area of the stem. You can define the object just by defining the space next to it; there is no need to draw the stem line on its light area.

Defining the negative space, you also "draw" the edges of the object.

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 the 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 to define and describe 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 it to the rose and assess each area of the drawing in relation to the others to achieve correct value variations. Always keep checking for accuracy. This is a great way to develop drawing and observation skills.

Remember: You Can Make Beautiful Art at Any Level

I don't consider myself a master artist, but I enjoy sharing what I know about art-making with others. I wrote this article hoping that it will help beginner artists in their drawing process. I hope you found it useful and enjoyable. Happy drawing!

© 2012 Robie Benve


precious on July 27, 2019:

lovely and nice

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on August 22, 2013:

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 on August 20, 2013:

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 (author) from Ohio on January 25, 2013:

Thanks a lot Frangipanni. :)

Frangipanni on January 23, 2013:

Lovely work. Thanks for sharing.

John Vincent from Mandaluyong City on November 06, 2012:

your welcome

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 05, 2012:

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. :)

John Vincent from Mandaluyong City on November 04, 2012:


Nettlemere from Burnley, Lancashire, UK on November 02, 2012:

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.

John Vincent from Mandaluyong City on November 01, 2012:

very beautifull

Robie Benve (author) from Ohio on November 01, 2012:

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.

summerberrie on October 31, 2012:

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

Theresa D from England, UK on October 31, 2012:

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

Dbro from Texas, USA on October 31, 2012:

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 on October 31, 2012:

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 on October 31, 2012:

What beautiful roses!

Artists definitely have an eye for details...

Maggie Griess from Ontario, Canada on October 31, 2012:

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!

carol stanley from Arizona on October 31, 2012:

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.