How to Paint Rose Petals

bouton de rose rose image by Jean-Michel POUGET from

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Rose or picture
  • Paint
  • Brush

Roses, with their intricately twisting petals, act as symbols of peace and love. They can add beauty to any painting regardless of whether its oil paint, acrylic or watercolor. To paint a realistic rose, you need to understand the basic shapes that make up the rose and learn what to look for when examining a real flower or a picture of one. Combine this with a little practice and you can paint flawless roses.

Sketch the outline of your rose using light pencil lines to mark the edges of petals and outlines of highlights and shadows. Study the rose carefully to get a good sense of where the curve at the top of the petals casts a shadow underneath the petal and how other petals cast shadows on the petals below them. If the rose is light colored, you may see that shadows cast on one side of the rose petal are reflected slightly on the back of the petals. Mark these areas as well.

Shade the rose as it it were a cylinder. Online resource Artists' Network recommends imagining the curve at the top of each petal in a blooming rose as a cylinder to help properly shade the rose. The top of the curve is the lightest area and the middle of the curve is darker with a smaller light area beneath this. Practice basic cylinder shading exercises to perfect this technique.

Paint the lightest color for the rose on first. If you're working with oil paint instead of watercolor or acrylic, you can simply paint the base color of the rose and then add the highlights and shadows on top. Blend with your brush. For watercolor or acrylic, start with the lightest color and then add in areas of darker colors.

Use paint to create sharp contrasting lines. The petals on a rose are small enough that transitions from light to dark are dramatic and you can create lines of dark and light where they meet.

Check your picture and compare each petal with the actual rose or picture. Find shadows and highlights you might have missed and add them. Ensure the paint is light enough to add soft shadows to represent the outlines and shadows of other petals.

Paint the stem with shades of dark green, unless the rose is positioned so that the light falls on the stem instead of the flower. Think of the stem itself as another cylinder and the leaves under the rose as green petals. The leaves should appear less translucent than the rose petals.


  • Add more water to your acrylic or watercolor paint to create less harsh, toned down colors.