rose drawings

How to Draw a Rose – Introduction to Painting Roses in Watercolor

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In almost all cultures, the rose has important symbolism. It stands for beauty, grace, love, the joy of life, and perfection. No wonder it is also a popular motif for drawing. Rose drawings are quite demanding: there are different layers of petals, and the detailed shading is also a challenge. In this blog post, we will show you how to draw a rose step by step, and how to paint one in watercolor. Each step of the roses drawing process has been documented for an easy to follow guide on how to draw roses. Follow these simple steps, and you will know exactly how to draw a rose and paint one in watercolors perfectly.



Materials Needed for Rose Drawings

Before getting into how to draw a rose in detail, you will need to have the right equipment at the ready. Here is a list of everything you will need for getting started with the drawing of a rose. We have decided to paint this in watercolors for a beautiful effect.



The right paper is essential for watercolor painting. The paint is applied with a lot of water, and when using the wrong paper the colors will not show a good gradient. Quality paper is also necessary for drawings of any kind. If you are not familiar with the basic techniques of watercolor painting, be sure to take a look at our Watercolor Painting tutorial.

It is therefore advisable to invest in a reasonable watercolor block. Otherwise, you may quickly despair and lose interest in your painting. I can recommend the paper of Canson, a watercolor painting Mixed Media block from Hahnemühle, or the Cold Press Paper from Strathmore.



If you want to do a drawing of a rose, then you will want a good quality pencil. It is important to try out a range of different thicknesses/lead sizes to find a pencil that you like best. The size and softness of the lead will produce different results. Even if you are just doing a simple rose drawing, it’s good to have a few different pencil options available.



Natural hair brushes are supposed to be particularly water absorbent, but there are now also good synthetic alternatives that are also not as expensive. It’s best to have a range of different brush shapes and sizes so that you can attempt different effects and details while painting.

how to draw a rose



I use the usual watercolor paints from Schminke or Lukas. When learning how to paint a rose with watercolors, it is enough to work with the standard paints. This way,  you can easily mix your own shades and conjure up many different nuances by varying the amount of water from one and the same color.


Other Utensils

When painting with watercolors, you will also need a glass of water, a kitchen towel, a pencil, and an eraser. When learning how to draw roses, being prepared is important. You will need to have everything readily available as you draw and paint.



Rose Painting – How to Paint a Rose?

The painting and drawing of a rose can follow two basic paths. While you can let your creativity run wild, you should first distinguish between the two different approaches to take. This is particularly important for watercolor painting.


Loose Watercolor Rose

Here, one refrains from a precise, detailed depiction of the rose and instead tries to capture its form rather loosely. You need to have the rough anatomy of a rose in your head to know where to place the brush strokes.

roses drawing


Detailed Representation of a Rose

After making a detailed sketch with a pencil, you can orientate yourself quite precisely on the model, in contrast to the loose capture of a rose. The art here is, in my opinion, to depict the blossom as realistically as possible, without it looking like a photo. Pay close attention to the petals, but don’t overdo it. It’s okay to leave out a leaf here and there as long as the shape fits in at the end.



How to Draw a Rose Step by Step

Now that we understand what is needed for simple rose drawings, it’s time to create your own. Follow this easy step by step process to learn how to draw a rose perfectly.


Rose Sketch

It is important to use a pencil that is relatively fine and that you only press on as lightly as possible. Furthermore, you should only use the sketch as a rough orientation, so that you can erase the sketch after the watercolor painting. Depending on the condition of the paper it may also be that you cannot erase the pencil lines. In order to prevent this, you can also make the sketch with a water paintable pencil in a similar color to that of the rose. These strokes will then disappear by contact with water. When learning how to draw a rose, you could also trace the rose to get a feel for the lines. There is nothing wrong with doing this.


Defining Light and Shadow

Before you start to paint watercolors, you should take a close look at the object to be painted and determine where the light reaches the least. There are most shadows and where the light reaches the most and the leaves are brightest.

Accurate observation of light and shadow is essential for the rose to gain depth and look realistic.


The First Brushstrokes

A rose is usually constructed in such a way that the leaves are closer together in the inner area and therefore less light can reach these areas. The leaves have more room to unfold on the outside and are therefore larger and brighter on the outside of each leaf. The petals also overlap each other.

drawing of a rose

Keeping these things in mind, you pick up the desired color with the brush with a relatively watery consistency and, if you imagine a circle, start inside the circle with narrow crescent-shaped strokes (1). Towards the outside, the brush strokes become wider and larger (2). They also overlap (3). With this structure, the shape of a blooming rose can be easily imitated (4).

draw a rose

When painting a loose rose in watercolors, the wet on wet technique can be used. To do this, take up water with a brush and paint the rose as described above. Then take up the desired color with the brush and apply it to the previously watered areas of the leaf. Now the paint runs as if by itself to where water was previously applied and this results in very beautiful color gradients.



Painting Roses With the Wet on Dry Technique

I will explain the detailed painting of a rose using the wet on the dry technique below. In contrast to the method described above, this means that the ink is applied to dry paper, giving you more control over the color and gradients.

Once the sketch is made, the lightest shade of the basic color of the rose is determined (1). In addition, one must now look carefully where the brightest, possibly white areas of the rose are because these areas must be cut out from the beginning. Since you always work with watercolor from light to dark, everything that has been colored once cannot be completely reversed. So the next step is to color the whole rose with the lightest basic tone (except for the lightest areas).

how to draw a rose step by step

Now, as I said before, you continue working from light to dark (2). Here it helps to keep in mind that the watercolor will lighten when it dries and that the darker areas may require several coats of paint.

The darkest parts of a rose, or generally of a flower, are usually the areas inside the flower. This includes the leaves sitting close together, and the areas where the petals are held together, or where they come out of the stem. So these areas are painted with a slightly darker tone than the basic tone. With a little bit of darker paint – I like to use earthy tones to darken the basic tone of the rose – e.g. brown, you can now also paint the areas that seem darkest (3).

rose drawing easy

We continue with the next layer of paint – the areas of the rose that are neither light nor dark. This layer of paint is applied more intensely than the basic tone, between the lightest and darkest areas (4). Now the different color applications are faded a little bit so that there are nice transitions and everything looks a little bit more pleasing. This can be done by slightly moistening the brush which activates the colors and brings them into each other.

Now you can see that the darker areas have to be reworked again. By blending and applying different shades of color, as well as drying the color, the rose needs even stronger contrasts to give the rose more depth and expressiveness (5).

simple rose drawing

rose painting

Now you can already see the strong contrast between the lightest and darkest parts of the flower. You can now go back and apply the basic tone of the rose again and here and there re-color the brightened areas (6).

In the end, you erase the pencil sketch, or what is left of it. Congratulations, you’ve painted your first rose. Then it is advisable to place the painting somewhere and look at it from a little further away. This will help you (this applies to any kind of motif, by the way) to get an overview of the proportions and possibly see mistakes. Furthermore, you should let the paint dry completely before you decide whether the picture is finally finished.

Most of the time I notice that the contrast is not strong enough or that the veneer could be softened a bit.

how to draw roses



Tips for Making Rose Drawing Easy

When I started to paint roses, I first made a painting of a rose whose style I liked and which I wanted to recreate. If you do this, please do not make these practice pictures public as your own product without mentioning the original painter!

Looking closely at the image is also essential in order to recreate what you have obsereved onto the paper.

Then I looked for photographed roses as a reference picture and painted them. It becomes difficult with a rose that you have in front of you. My experience is that a photo moves an object into the distance and therefore it is easier with the proportions and the capture of the object.

When you have practiced rose drawing a little more and feel more confident, you can build a still life and use a real rose or flower as a reference. However, to make rose drawing easy, its best to start with a photograph as a reference.


Doing roses drawings and paintings is a calming process that can produce some beautiful results. Follow our guide on how to draw a rose, and practice as much as you can. Soon, you will know exactly how to draw roses easily. Just remember to have fun with the process!


josephine cordes

Josephine Cordes

Josephine Cordes' elementary school teacher advised her parents to encourage the talent she saw in Josephine. Therefore, her parents looked around for a way to do so. In the end, she was allowed to spend time with an old lady who was a painter once a week during her school years until she graduated from high school. She taught Josephine some basics and awakened her love for watercolor. After graduating from high school, she studied dentistry and never touched a paintbrush again during her studies and work phase. After her license to practice and doctorate, she worked for three years. In 2009 Josephine got married and had her first child, followed by numbers 2 and 3. In 2016 Josephine Cordes started handlettering and rediscovered painting.

Since 2016, she has been painting watercolors again and has continued to develop with information from various sources. In addition to watercolor painting, she also likes to paint with the medium of acrylic and recently also with gouache. Painting roses has always fascinated Josephine and so she intensively studied different approaches in the beginning and developed her own style. Josephine lives with her family in beautiful Lower Saxony in the countryside in a village and her dream is to have her own little studio here.


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