Cover by Katerina Koukiotis

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August 2010




  • Artist Spotlight:
    Interview with Kate Wade
  • Ask an Artist:
    Watercolor Washes
  • Behind the Art:
    Sketching In the Field
  • EMG News:
    News for August
  • Wombat Droppings:
    The Truth is Ugly


  • Illustrating Roses
  • Basic Framing, Pt 2


  • Poem: Elemental Rose
  • Poem: White Roses
  • Poem: Witching Hour

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  • Illustrating Roses
    by Jenny Heidewald

    The beloved rose is probably the most famous, and artistically depicted, flower in history. As well as being one of the most recognized symbols of love, the flower is one of the symbols of Venus. Songs have been sung in their honor, a war has been named after them, and healing and rejuvenating proprieties have been assigned to them. These amazing perennial plants range in size from miniature to tall climbers, and come in multitudes of colors and shapes.

    Roses can seem daunting to draw, but when the process is broken down step-by-step the rose becomes a sort of jigsaw puzzle, each piece fitting just so to make a whole. We will cover different kinds of roses, as well as each step from simple beginnings to a complete colored picture.

    Rose Varieties

    There are more types of roses than I can cover here, but the following roses have the basic shapes of the different categories.

    Wild/Species Rose

    The oldest known rose, this variety has five petals and is generally pink in color. They produce red fruit in the fall called rose hips.

    Centifolia Rose

    The Latin word centifolia means "hundred-petalled". This variety is also called cabbage rose due to the resemblance to the vegetable. These are the type of roses that have been used in Victorian illustrations, as well as Dutch master paintings, and they evoke an old fashioned charm.

    Climbing and Rambler Roses

    These roses grow long canes and are generally attached to something to support the bush. Ramblers put out longer, thinner, flexible canes, growing up to 30 feet; climbers have shorter, thicker canes, and can grow to about 15 feet. This rose type is among the grandest, with masses of blooms spilling over walls and climbing houses to dazzle the eye.

    Hybrid Tea Rose

    This is the most widely known and grown rose of today. The traditional red rose comes from this variety. They are popular with florists because they produce long stemmed roses. This is the rose I will show you how to draw.


    Roses have an odd-pinnate compound leaf, which, in plainer terms, means that each leaflet is opposite another with one leaflet at the tip. The compound leaves closest to the flower tend to only have three leaflets, rather than the five or more found lower on the plant. Leaflets closest to the cane are generally a little smaller than the leaflets towards the outer edge of the plant; this is more noticeable in species roses.

    While some rose varieties have more oval-shaped leaves and other taper to a sharper point, they are generally the same shape. Serrated edges are on the outside edge, and the main vein running down the middle of the leaf to the tip. Near the base of the leaf stem is an outgrowth called the stipule, and new leaf growth on a rose is red tinged.

    While roses are often said to have thorns, the correct term for these growths on the cane is prickles. True thorns are modified stems, while prickles are extensions of the epidermis.

    How to Draw a Tea Rose

    In general, my roses start out as a mass of sketch lines while I am planning placement of petals and leaves. Since that mass of lines can be hard to decipher, I have cleaned up this sketch and will show each petal drawn from the center out.

    Step One

    Start by drawing a large circle, then lines from the circle down and branching to the sides for the stem and leaves, drawing pointed ovals for any rose buds.

    Step Two

    The rose has a spiral type of shape, for the very center of the rose think of it as a number 6 or 9 shape, in this case it is backwards. After drawing the initial backward 6 shape, draw a second spiral type line around the center. Keep the edges raggedy looking, this adds to the natural, organic feel.

    Step Three

    Draw a curved line from your first spiral shape to indicate the outside of the petal encasing the center petals of the rose. Also draw the top line on the first spiral shape to give it the look if a petal curving out and over, as most rose petals do. It might help to think of the rose as an urn like shape.

    Step Four

    Keep building the rose petals up, remembering that the raggedy edges lend a more realistic feel to the rose. Once the flower is competed to your satisfaction, you can erase the circle guide. Depending on the angle you draw your rose from you may or may not add septules under the flower.

    Step Five

    Next develop the leaves, adding the stipules, leaflet veins and developing the stem of the rose more. Add sawtooth edges to the leaves for a more realistic look.

    Step Six

    Now you have finished line art, you can either shade it with pencil, ink hatching, or color it.

    Quick Color in Photoshop Adobe Elements

    Step one

    I added a little dragon on a different layer, and changed the hue of the lines of the rose using the hue/saturation option.

    Step Two

    Next I dragged a parchment texture to a layer below the rose and dragon layers, and set the latter layers to multiply. This enables the parchment layer to be seen. Add a blank layer between the line and the parchment layers, naming it "color". To prevent mistakes with coloring, I lock the layers I am not working on.

    Step Three

    Working on the color layer, I put in a layer of green for the leaves and cane with a big, soft brush. The soft brush allows some of the parchment color to show through. For the flower I added a dark peach for the beginnings of shadowy areas.

    Step Four

    I add light colors next, the parchment color doubles as the middle tone for the rose. I lightened the line layer for the dragon so that it would be softer.

    Step Six

    I continue to develop the light and darks, adding a tinge of green to areas of the rose facing the leaves. Using the burn tool, I darkened the shadowy areas more. Then, with the eraser tool, I cleaned up the edges where my color had gone outside the lines, and smoothed out any jagged lines. I also dropped the opacity of the rose line layer to 60% so that it would blend better with the color layer.

    And there you have it, a basic overview of starting a rose from sketch to coloring.


    An excellent video on drawing roses by CongTuPorkie

    Old Garden Roses and Beyond

    Roses in Oklahoma, covering different rose types

    Jenny Heidewald is one of those self-taught artists that has been drawing since she was little; she remembers the exact moment she decided that she wanted to be an artist. Interestingly enough, it was while watching her mom draw the hand of God reaching from the clouds to His followers. Jenny was floored, it seemed to be magic, an image appearing out of nowhere. She thought, "I want
    to do THAT!" In addition to writing for EMG-zine, Jenny is a prolific artist who has worked in many mediums. Her current favorite technique is working with colored micron pens, and coloring either with watercolor or Photoshop. Jenny lives in Maryland with her husband. Please check out her Sketchfest, Portrait Adoption, Deviant Art, and Elfwood pages.

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