How to Draw a Red Rose

How to Draw a Red Rose

By Aaron Rutten

Step-by-step instructions describe how to draw roses using Corel Painter 2015 digital painting software and a graphics tablet. This illustration was created with Corel Painter and a Wacom Cintiq, but you can use any drawing tablet. The digital painting techniques in this lesson can be applied to Photoshop, ArtRage and many other digital and traditional art applications.

In this art tutorial, Painter Master Aaron Rutten starts with a sketch to get the correct proportions of the flower. Next, each layer of the flower is separated onto its own layer using flat color fills to establish the shape of the rose. Form is added to the shapes using lighter and darker colors. Final touches like blending, texture and lighting effects really help the illustration become more lifelike.

Welcome to this Tuesday’s episode of Draw This. In this episode we’re going to be learning how to draw a rose. So let’s get started. I’ll be using Corel Painter 2015 today.

We are learning to draw a rose step by step, so I’ve created a whole bunch of layers because in this case it was pretty easy to decide which layers I was going to have. I knew I’d have a stem and some petals and some leaves, and so on, so I created those layers ahead of time and grouped them together accordingly. I also created a sketch layer.

Let’s start with that sketch layer. We’ll choose a number 6 gray value and we’ll use the detail oils brush with a very thin diameter to sketch. If you hold down on ctrl and alt and drag your pen you can resize it on the fly. We’ll just go ahead and sketch out a general flower shape, so we’ll start with this spherical shape. Try to place this in the top third of your composition and then sketch in a line for your stem. Now we’ll refine the sketch a little more. We’ll and draw the base of the petals, and draw a wider ellipse where they fan out. The petals converge at the base of the flower and at the top of the flower they spiral out and overlap each other.

Next I’ll sketch the little pod thing at the base of the flower and widen the stem. Make sure not to make it too wide or thin. If you need to redraw it then go ahead and redraw it. You can use your eraser if you need to erase. I’m going to draw some smaller stems that branch off the main stem and these smaller stems are going to have leaves. Make sure the leaves aren’t all the same size and same shape, and make sure they aren’t going the same direction. This will help our rose drawing look more realistic. I’m going to have some leaves go in front of the flower and some leaves go behind it.

Next I’m going to try and define the petals a little bit better. Now, I can’t really describe how these petals are supposed to be shaped because they are completely random depending on the flower, but they do follow a general plan when you’re drawing them, so you want them to be overlapping. You want them to look kind of like little pieces of cloth that are folded over, and you want them to spiral out from the center of the flower and overlap. What I do is I kind of draw some freeform lines. I really just do it spontaneously just to get a feel for the general shape and then I go over that and refine it a little bit later. Don’t worry about drawing the exact petal shapes now; just generalize them in an impressionistic way.

Next I’m going to begin filling in the layers using the smooth ink brush. I’m going to choose a green color, and then size the brush the diameter of the stem and paint in a nice, long, smooth stroke. I’ll go over it one more time just to make it a little bit thicker. Now we have a pretty good-looking stem. I’m going to continue doing this with all of the other layers in this piece.

The next layer when drawing a rose is the stem’s front layer. For that I’ll use a dark red color. And I’ll sketch in the stems that are in front. So any layer that’s overlapping anything else is going to have its own layer. I’m going to put in the stems in the background layer. And I’m going to use the smooth scratchboard tool to start putting in the leaves in the back. Working with layers is really nice because you don’t have to worry about over-painting things. I’m going to choose a mint green and paint in a nice jagged edge for my leaf here. I’ll paint in the remaining background leaves and then I’ll move to the leaves foreground layer and paint in some leaves in front of the stem. I’ll use a lighter green so they stand out from the dark green in case they overlap.

Next I’ll paint in the little pod area. I’ll add a few thorns here and there along the stems. Then I’ll start doing some work on the petal layers. I have several layers for the petals. You can add as many layers as you want. I’m going to make sure any petals that overlap any other petals are on their own separate layer, so I might do one or two petals or maybe more on the same layer but those petals won’t be overlapping each other. I’m going to paint in the foreground petals first and we’re going to work from foreground to background. I’m going to t go to the next layer down and choose a darker red this time so that it stands out from the red that I chose before that. I’m going to paint in the next series of petals. I’m going to loosely follow my sketch. I’m not going to try and copy it exactly. It’s just there as a guide, so if I want to change things as I’m painting I’m going to do that. You want to aim for the general shape, which is going to be a bigger petal near the outside of the flower and a smaller petal where it converges in the center. I’ll continue adding my layers, just making them darker as I move toward the background, and I’ll hide my sketch because I don’t need that anymore.

I’m going to save an iteration of my artwork, so I’m going to call this “rose2” and I’m going to add some shading by turning on the preserve transparency, selecting the airbrush and sampling a red color. I’m going to paint over some of the petals over on the left side. Our light’s going to be coming from the left so we want to shade all of our petals as a whole first. You want to think of the whole rose, and shading that. Once you’ve shaded the whole rose you can shade each petal individually and that tends to work a little bit better.

Next I’m going to sample one of the dark reds and add some shadows on the opposite side from my light source, which will be underneath the rose and mostly on the right side. With the smaller brush I can draw in some little folds and creases if I want to, and use a slightly bigger brush after that to add some cast shadow underneath that fold. That helps the petals look a little more three-dimensional. You really don’t want these to look flat so you have to add a lot of light and dark to build up the form of these petals.

Next I’m going to choose a light pink color that’s shifted a little bit towards magenta and I’m going to paint on the left side. That’s going to make these petals look like they are reflecting a little bit of light from the environment. It helps it look a little more natural and it varies the red. You don’t want a static red because that doesn’t look very good. It’s also nice to paint a little red along these petals using the airbrush and that helps make them look more three-dimensional. You don’t want them to look 2D. I’m going to add more light and more dark as I need to. Go ahead and save another iteration.

Then I’m going to start blending using the diffuse blur blender. So I’m going to merge all those petal layers to a single layer using ctrl E. I’m going to zoom in and pan around a little bit holding the spacebar. If you need to zoom out you hold Alt. I’m going to use the diffuse blur to blend some of these sharp areas. I know these don’t entirely look like petals so what we’re going to have to do is spend a little time to refine these shapes, but we have some general shapes to work with. If we smooth out some areas that look weird it’s going to start to make these look more like they’re supposed to be petals. And of course we’re going to have to draw in some lighter and darker edges here and there.

The distorter brush works really well to push and pull pixels around, so this is kind of an additive and subtractive brush. You can use it to more quickly add these details that make the petals look more refined. So just kind of smudge these things around. Try to push the petals to where you want them to go and re-shape them into the shapes that you want. You can also use the pinch brush to smooth out some if these areas. If you want to pinch something together, smooth a petal, make something a little bit sharper, it works really well to tighten things up and get the shape that you want without having to repaint it. You can also add some wrinkles using the distorto brush. Just paint zigzags along the petal here you want to try to compliment the shape of the petal, so make sure you paint in the direction that the petal is going.

Next I’m going to use the detail oils brush with one of these darker reds and redefine some of these petal edges, really just separating them out from each other and creating more petals form the general petal shapes that I have there. This helps the rose drawing look realistic. What we’re doing here is working from broad to fine. We start with broad shapes and then we refine them by adding some smaller shapes on top. I’m going to blend some of this using the diffuse blur blender, and that helps to soften some of these edges. You have to have a good balance of sharp and smooth detail, so you don’t want to over-blend things. I’m going to use select layer content on the petals layer and then hide the selection. I’m going to turn off the preserve transparency and create a new layer that’s going to be a screen composite method. I’ll then use the airbrush to paint. Now, if I paint over on the left side that’s going to lighten the left side and make it look brighter and that lightness I just added is on it’s own layer so if I want to change it or reduce it I can. I’m going to add a little magenta hue on the left side and then I’m going to dim the opacity of that layer to make a more subtle blend. I’ll select black and paint on that same layer to bring some of the shadows back. Painting with black on a screen layer removes the screen.

Next I’m going to re-label that “lighten” and create a new layer for “darken” and I’m going to make that a multi-composite method. Let’s go with a more violet hue here and we’ll use the airbrush again to darken. This is just like what we did before, we’re just using darks this time. And here and there with the airbrush I’m just going to add some shadows. Now, I’m over painting a lot because I know this is on its own layer and I can dim the opacity of that layer to get a more subtle blend. I can also subtract from that layer using white if I want to. So multiply is the opposite of screen. I’m just going to tweak things a little bit more to find a slightly better balance and I’m going to continue to refine this using a little bit more shadows and highlights. It’s really kind of a back and forth process. It’s a lot like how you would paint with oils or acrylics.

Let’s create a new layer for highlights and we’ll make that a screen composite method. More often than not I’m using screen for my highlights and multiply for my shadows. I’m going to use the glow brush with a dark red color to paint around some of the edges of the petals. I’ll select the airbrush and go back to the darken layer and help some of these petals stand out a little more from each other. Using some dark reds and some more shadows. I’m going to hold SHIFT and select all of the petal layers and then use ctrl E to merge them into a new layer called “petals”. And I’m going to blend a little more using the diffuse blur. The reason why we merge these layers together is so we can blend all the layers together without getting any white fringe on the edges.

Let’s zoom out a little bit with the magnifier and evaluate this since it should be pretty small. Let’s go to the stem layer and turn on preserve transparency and let’s add some shading to the stem here. We’ll use the airbrush and we want to shade this like it’s a really long cylinder. So we want a highlight on the one side and a shadow on the other side. I want to make my highlight a yellow and my shadow more blue-green just to give it some variety. We’ve got a nice shadow side here, and then we’ll shift our hue a little bit while painting just so there’s some variety in this because you don’t want your colors to be too static. I think that looks pretty good for the stem.

Now I’m going to shade the pod underneath. I notice there’s an area that needs to come in front of the petals so I’m going to have to create a new layer for that. Turn off transparency and move that layer up above the petals and paint in that foreground part of the pod. While your shading you’re going to have to jump back and forth between the pod layers. I’m going to add shading to the rest of the layers the same way I did with the petals, just by adding lighter and darker colors and then blending. I’m going to use the distorto to add these edges to my leaves which helps them look nice and jagged. Then I’m going to turn preserve transparency on and use the sponge on each of these stem and leaf layers to add a little bit of texture using a slightly darker color. That really helps them look a little more natural.

Next I’m going to use select layer contact on the petals layer to get a selection from it. I’m going to create a new layer for texture and make it a multiply composite method. Then I’m going to paint on that layer, that way all of my texture is on a separate layer from the petals. Then I can dim the opacity of that and get a more subtle blend.

I’m going to save another iteration of my flower by choosing save as. I’m going to call this “rose 4”. I keep all these saves in case I need to go back for some reason. I’m going to delete that sketch layer because I don’t need it anymore, and then I’m going to merge all of those rose layers. Don’t merge the background. We want to keep that separate. I’m going to blend and distort the rose a little bit and then I’m going to add some white environment color reflected on the rose, mainly on the left side. You can do this on the layer itself or you can create separate layers if you want. You can choose select layer content to get a selection and so on.

So, I’m just going to lighten it a little here and there and add some white. I’m going to merge those petal layers with ctrl E and then I’ll choose select all, copy and paste to create a duplicate. I’m going to hide the original and then on the duplicate layer I’m going to choose effects>focus>soften. I’m going to apply a little bit of a blur to that duplicate layer. I’m going to move the original layer up above it and turn it on and then I’m going to create a mask on the original layer. Within the mask I’m going to select black and then fill the whole mask with black. Then I’m going to choose white on the airbrush and wherever I paint now with the airbrush I’m going to reveal the focus again. So I want the focus to be kind of in the center of the flower and then to fade out as I move away from that.

Next I’m going to merge the rose layers again and I’m going to use the blur blender anywhere where I want to blur it a little bit more. Probably near the edges and near the bottom of the flower and to set the background leaves into the background. Now, you can turn the background layer off, or you can add your own background color if you want a background color so that you can use this rose elsewhere, but I’m just going to leave it with white. I’m going to fray the petal edges a little more with distorto and just distort everywhere and add a few more details.

I’m not concerned about keeping my background separate at this point so I’m just going to drop all layers, and then I’m going to add a new layer, making it an overlay composite method. I’m going to change the color up a little bit by filling this with a few different colors. I’m going to start with kind of a magenta. Dim the opacity a little bit. Add a mask and mask out some of it. And what this does is it just gives the color a little bit more flavor and varies the color a little bit. You want it to be kind of subtle. You don’t want it to be too extreme unless you want that kind of effect. I’m going to add a second overly layer with a little bit of a green color just to change up the color a little bit more. It’s up to you if you want to do this when you draw a rose, but I think it helps it look kind of interesting.

Let’s add some more white on a new layer and that just helps it look a little more realistic as well like it’s in an environment. I’ll add a little more dark. And really at this point it’s kind of about balancing out the light and dark and adding the finishing touches like adding the icing on a cake. So I’m going to do that. Lighten and darken here and there and really bring this piece together.

And there you go. We have a finished rose drawing. If you enjoyed this episode of Draw This on how to draw a rose take a quick second to like this video and share it with your friends, and don’t forget to click the subscribe button below to get updates when I release new videos. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next Tuesday for another episode of Draw This.

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