Toad Hollow Studio's Drawing Tutorials And Classes by Carol Rosinski

How To Draw a Rose

Rose Contour Drawinghow to draw a rose - step one enlarged

Lightly trace this line drawing, use a graph to draw it, or draw the rose free hand.

Draw the shapes of the shadows and highlights, the lighter lines in the body of the rose and bud leaves, too.

I've darkened this outline drawing so you can see it easily. Make your line drawing just dark enough to see so the lines will blend in with the shading.

Shade The Rose

how to draw a rose - step two enlargedTo help see the shadows and highlights, think of the drawing as a kind of blurry jigsaw puzzle. Each shadow or highlight area is a shape and you put the puzzle together by shading each piece.

Shade everything slightly lighter than it really is at first, then slowly darken the shadows as you add more layers.

A small flat brush is a good tool for making light values. Just drag the brush over the contour drawing to create a very light watercolor-like wash effect. For darker values, hatch with the point of a medium hard pencil and then blend with a brush or stump.

Hard and Soft Edges

how to draw a rose - step three enlargedMake the shading more realistic by paying attention to hard and soft edges.

Soft edge lines are slightly blurred. An example is the highlight line in the bud casing below and to the right of the rose bud in this image. Erase soft edges into shadows with a kneaded eraser, draw them in other areas with light pressure on a pencil, or use the side of the lead.

A hard edge looks like a clear tight line, and can be dark or light. There is a hard edge line around the outside of the bud in this image. Create hard lines with a sharp pencil tip, but use several layers to create a dark edge. Pencil tips easily gouge paper and blemish the entire drawing.

Exaggerate To Give The Rose Visual Punch

Darkening shadows and lightening highlights somewhat more than reality gives any graphite pencil drawing an eye catching and dramatic affect. This is a especially good technique to use on drawings of flowers, because the eye expects to see color and high contrast helps fulfill that anticipation.

how to draw a rose - step five enlarged

Here's where I did that on this rose:
  • Highlights around the edges of the petals.
  • Tiny veins at the bottom of the bud.
  • Emphasized the way the rose gets a little lighter near the bottom of the bud.
  • Details along the petal and leaf edges.
  • Details in the leaves showing how they undulate.

Finally, I darkened the outside edges of the rose to make it stand out clearly against the white paper.

Flower Drawing Tips

When looking for a flower model, look for interesting line, shape, texture, and lighting. These are qualities that you can take advantage of with pencil.

Try working on light colored pastel paper. It's an interesting way to inject a touch of color into graphite work.

Experiment with both rough and smooth textured paper to see which kind suits your drawing the best.

In this drawing, I used a very smooth looking hatch technique that works especially well for flowers (see smooth technique), but very rough hatching can work too (see rough technique).


Medium or medium soft pencil (Review of pencil grades and brands.)
Erasers - kneaded and vinyl
Small brush for shading
Paper stump for shading
Smooth and / or rough drawing paper (Paper Reviews)

Back To Rose Steps

If you like drawing flowers, take a look at some of my other flower drawing lessons too.
draw easy flowers from scratch draw a spring beauty wild flower how to draw a flower
Easy Flowers From Scratch Draw A Spring Beauty Wild Flower Draw A Flower

Carol Rosinski
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Drawing Made Easy, Getting Started by Carol Rosinski
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Toad Hollow Studio - Teaching how to draw since 1999