How to draw a rose: Step by step

Learn how to draw a rose.

The drawing techniques used when learning how to draw a rose can be used to draw anything. It can be used when you draw animals or spend time urban sketching.

When we think of drawing something familiar like hands, or lips, a cat, or a rose – we often forget about the imperfections and unique shapes and textures each individual object or creature has. Learning how to draw a rose is no different.

I see this a lot, especially in wildlife art. Where every animal has perfectly clean fur or no broken feathers. When in reality things are dirty and have imperfections. Teeth break and claws get snagged and hands have wrinkles on them.

As you're learning how to draw a rose. Take into consideration the realistic imperfections.

Details which – when included – make for more interesting drawings and paintings.

So as we draw more and more – it’s so important to build up a visual bank of references in our minds. References based on in-person observation or true-to-life reference photos.

This way we’re drawing from what we SEE and not from what we think we know.

Details to include in your rose drawing:

  • the half-dead petals,
  • the petals that are half-bent,
  • the holes where the insects ate through,
  • the broken thorns.

As I’m showing you how to draw a rose in the video above, I’m limiting myself to simple contour lines. This forces me to look at my reference photos (or actual roses) MORE than looking only at my drawing. This forces me to take notice of the imperfections and real qualities of the roses I’m drawing.

As I’m laying these lines down, I’m only looking at the petals around the immediate petal I’m drawing. Seeing how each affects each other. Working from petal to petal until I have a finished drawing of a rose. Learning how to draw a rose is easier when you're looking at the larger shapes first. Then the smaller shapes made by the internal petals. Starting your drawing on the outside and slowing working inward.

I’m treating these drawings as quick warm-ups.

Giving myself no more than 5 minutes to draw each of them.

I’m probably looking at the reference 80% of the time and my actual drawing 20% of the time.

So take notice of every detail and don’t be afraid to embrace them in your drawings.

How to draw a rose step-by-step

There are many drawing styles out there. Regardless, these steps for drawing a rose will apply to them all. You can use any drawing supply you want as you learn how to draw a rose. To keep things simple, use either drawing pencils or drawing pens.

Step 1: Start in the middle of your flower.

Start your rose drawing by looking at the center of the rose where the petals meet. This area of the rose is the most detailed. Ultimately, it's where most of the folds are. It’ll help you determine how to place the outer petals when you draw them.

Look at the rose as one big shape of circles and ovals. These shapes overlap each other. In the early part of the drawing, draw the main shape of the rose loosely.

Step 2: From the center, draw the outer petals.

After drawing the center of the rose, work your way out. Paying attention to the petals closest to the middle. Observing their shape. Observe how large are they are compared to the center? for instance, do you notice how the petals overlap? Just like the first step, draw them in a loose way, then focus in on the general shapes.

Double-check your drawing to the rose you're looking at. Making sure your drawing look in proportion. That the petals are the right shapes and are positioned properly.

Step 3: Refine the petals.

Once you feel like the rose is looking good, begin refining each of the petals. Just as you’ve done in previous steps, begin in the middle and observe all of the contours. Notice where one the shape of each petal curves in and out. While sketching it.

Now you can erase the initial lines you used to initially draw the rose. Once finished, you will have a complete outline. Which means you're ready for shading!

Step 4: Begin shading.

Moving from petal to petal, notice how each petal is lighter or darker. Compare the lightness and darkness from one petal to the next. Notice the darker areas in shadows? Notice the highlights? Using your softer (4B) pencil will help you draw deeper shadows.

Step 5: Workaround the rose.

Keep on shading around the rose. There will be more shadows towards the center of the rose. Once you get to the outer petals, you’ll start to have more variety in your tones. Save some of the white paper for the highlights. The highlights of the rose are where the petals usually droop or bend.

Step 7: Refine your rose drawing.

You're pretty much done drawing a rose, congratulations! Give the drawing a final pass. Ask yourself, are there any areas that more definitions or cleaned up?

Final thoughts on how to draw a rose

I hope you regularly find time for making art.

These kinds of drawing tips can help break down how to draw complicated things. Helping you draw other kinds of easy drawing ideas. Generally, if you follow the instructions once, you'll find yourself drawing with more confidence later on.

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