I love to enhance my surroundings with flowers, but bouquets come with a lot of responsibility. I never remember to replace the water in a vase! Furthermore, I’m notorious for letting my flowers get dry and wilted. For those reasons, I prefer floral illustrations, which require a little more work upfront but last indefinitely. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to make a detailed vintage rose illustration with the aid of several short tutorial videos.
1. Gather Your Supplies
First, gather up your supplies. I plan to use my vintage rose illustration as artwork for my home, so I’ll be using:
- White handmade paper (5″ x 7″; 12.7 cm x 17.75 cm)
- Sumi ink
- Straight pen + Nikko G nib
- Pencil (preferably mechanical) + a good eraser
You can use a variety of supplies for this project depending on what exactly you wish to make. (For example, I plan to make a mural using this motif eventually. In that case, I’ll use an oil-based black paint marker to draw on the wall.)
2. Draft the Flowers
If you’re drawing on a piece of paper like I am, begin by making a pencil rectangle 1/2″ (1.25 cm) inside the card. Then, as you illustrate, try not draw outside of that square. Creating this boundary will give the piece a nice, polished look.
I’m a fan of pencil drafts, especially when it comes to intricate illustrations like this one. So, first, let’s start by making a semi-blooming rose toward the bottom of the piece of paper. This short timelapse video shows you how to do that:
Next, make two fairly tight flowers facing opposite directions. Here’s a video of what that looks like:
Now, draft out two big, fully blossoming roses:
Finish up by making three tight little buds:
3. Draft the Stems, Thorns, and Leaves
Now, you’ll complete the motif by drafting stems, thorns, and leaves. Here’s what that looks like:
4. Outline Your Vintage Rose Illustration in Ink
Of course, you can use just about any pen to do this — but I prefer the sumi ink/Nikko G configuration for a couple of reasons. First, it’s nice to be able to vary the pressure exertion on the Nikko G to achieve stroke contrast. Second, sumi ink has such a crisp, vivid look that is difficult to achieve with a regular pen like Micron or Muji.
5. Add Depth With Thin Contour Lines
At this point, your rose illustration probably looks a bit empty. To add some depth, use very light pressure on your pen to add in contour lines on the roses. Focus, too, on adding lines to the leaves:
This step is where using a dip pen really comes in handy! The Nikko G nib has a sharp tip, so it can make teeny-tiny contour lines on the roses. At the same time, it’s capable of making thicker lines for the leaves.
6. Erase Pencil Lines!
This is my favorite part of the whole project because it makes your illustration come to life. When you erase the pencil lines, everything looks clean and polished! So, use a nice eraser (I like Staedtler Mars plastic) and gentle, firm movements to get rid of pencil lines.
And that’s it! You’ve got a gorgeous vintage roses illustration ready to adorn your home, brighten someone’s mailbox, or add elegance to your sketchbook.
Pencil drafts are fabulous, but they do take quite a while to make. To save you some time, I have an Illustrated Roses Templates for Tracing/Collage. You can use a light box to easily trace roses on any (fairly) light-colored piece of paper … no need for a draft or erasing pencil lines!
If you love these roses but find yourself in a real time crunch, you can skip the tracing and use the template itself for your project. I have used this technique for projects like the Easy Vintage Gift Tag Tutorial pictured below!
You can click through this gallery to see other projects I’ve created with a vintage rose motif:
No matter how you choose to create or use your vintage rose illustration, I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial! For additional floral fun, be sure to check out the other tutorials in the Floral Illustration Tutorials category. Thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful and creative weekend!