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How to draw a rose: beginner and advanced tips

So you want to know how to draw a rose? Well, you're in the right place. When it comes to drawing flowers, there are many different ways to start the process – and many angles to choose from. In this tutorial, we'll run through some techniques you can try. For more drawing advice, take a look at our roundup of tutorials exploring how to draw just about anything.

Watch the video below for some ideas for how to draw roses, or scroll down for a list of written tips that outline the key drawing techniques involved. Not quite what you're looking for? You'll find some additional resources covering how to draw roses for beginners and more advanced artists at the very bottom of this article.

How to draw a rose

Roses are probably the most popular flowers in the world, so it’s not surprising that they are often found in art as well. However, roses can be complicated and intimidating for two reasons.

First, a rose’s shape continually changes as it blooms making it difficult for the artist to answer the most basic question: What shape is it? Second, a rose is a soft and delicate object; communicating that requires considerable skill and sensitivity. 

Follow these pro tips to learn how to draw a rose...

01. Get sketching

(Image: © Thomas Fluharty)

Start by sketching the subject from different angles and using a variety of reference pictures. This will give you a good sense of whatever it is you’re drawing and help you gain some insights into how the structure works. Your 100th drawing will always be better than your first one.

Drawing something over and over again is necessary if you want to capture it with power and authority. Also, by drawing something repeatedly, you will become more confident of the subject, which will allow you to take chances. So draw with abandon and don’t worry about how good those initial sketches are. Draw to learn; each drawing is leading you closer to the perfect rose.

02. Find the egg shape in the petals

(Image: © Thomas Fluharty)

Successful drawing is more about logical thinking than having a trick up your sleeve. Start by observing your subject and asking the most basic question: What is the shape of this thing I’m drawing? Is it round? Square? Roses are complicated shape-wise because their unfolding petals distract us from the flower's basic shape.

A rose is an unfolding bud, so it’s egg-shaped: wider at the bottom and narrower at the top. So start by drawing the egg-shaped bud and then add in all the petals unfolding and opening around it. Make sense? Now that's an example of great thinking surpassing simply drawing what you see.

03. Establish a strong silhouette

(Image: © Thomas Fluharty)

Not all reference is created equal. Sometimes rose pictures that you find might not be helpful to your drawing because they look wilted and not heroic, or are strangely shaped and not very rose-like. Make sure the photo you choose to draw from has a shape that can be instantly recognised as a rose. 

Once you get drawing, you can turn your rose into a silhouette to see its overall shape and discern if it effectively communicates a rose. If you’re working from good reference, checking the silhouette will keep you on track.

04. Focus on form

(Image: © Thomas Fluharty)

If your drawing has good form, that means it has a three-dimensional quality to it that makes it look real and believable. The best way to render (i.e. draw) form is to make sure you think about what part of the rose you're drawing so that your hand movements follow the same curves of the petal or the roundness of the stem. Making round movements around a round object clarifies form; if something is round, use circular strokes to give the illusion of curvature. 

05. Add some flair

(Image: © Thomas Fluharty)

You might wonder what 'story' has to do with a rose. Everything! Whereas an amateur artist might draw a stiff stem and leaves (boring), an experienced artist will see the stem and leaves as a chance to tell a story because that’s what will connect them with the viewer emotionally. 

You can turn the mundane into something magical through exaggeration. Even though the differences between the two roses (above) are slight, the one on the right is much more interesting than the one on the left. Just by adding a few exaggerated bends in the stem, tilting the bloom, and injecting a little wonder into the leaves, my drawing goes from stiff to lively.

How to draw a rose: beginner tips

If you’re brand new to drawing roses, this screencapture walkthrough breaks down the process into basic shapes. This tutorial is aimed at children and beginners – by the end you’ll have a basic grasp of how to draw a rose.

How to draw a rose: advanced tips

Ready to take things to the next level? For expert insight into how to draw a rose, this six-minute video tutorial provides a masterclass. The result is a realistic, eye-catching rose with crisp petals.

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