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How to paint rose petals

The roses, with their very wavy petals, act as symbols of peace and love. They add beauty to any painting, regardless of whether it is oil, acrylic or watercolor. To paint a rose that looks real, you need to understand its basic shapes and what to consider when you examine a real flower or a picture of it. With this and a little practice, you can paint flawless roses.


  1. Make a sketch of the shape of your rose with soft lines in pencil to mark the edges of the petals and the outlines of the lights and shadows. Study the flower carefully for a good view of where the curve of the top of the petals casts a shadow underneath it, and how other petals darken the ones beneath it. If the rose is light in color, you can see that the shadows that project to one side of the petal reflect slightly in the lower part. Also mark all these areas.
  2. Shade the rose like a cylinder. The Artists ‘Network resource, available online, recommends imagining the curve at the top of each petal of a flowering rose as if it were a cylinder to help shade it correctly. The top is the clearest area and the half of the curve is darker, with a small light behind. Practice basic shadier drilling exercises to perfect this technique.
  3. First paint the lightest color of the rose. If you are working with oil paint instead of watercolors or acrylics, you can simply paint the base color and then add on the highlights and shadows. Mix with the brush. For watercolor or acrylic paint, it starts with the lighter color and then incorporates areas of darker colors.
  4. Use paint to create contrasting, well-defined lines. The petals of a rose are small enough that transitions from light to darkness are sharp and you can create lines of darkness and light where they meet.
  5. Check your picture and compare each petal with the real flower or photo. Look for shadows or lights you have not noticed before and add them. Make sure the paint is clear enough to add soft shadows that represent the outlines and shadows of other petals.
  6. Paint the stems with shades of dark green, unless the rose is placed so that light falls on the stem instead of the flower itself. Think of the stem itself as another cylinder and the leaves underneath the rose as green petals. The leaves should be less translucent than the petals.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add more water to your acrylic paint or watercolors to create toned.
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