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How to Color and Shade Flowers

Sharon Harnist | May 8, 2017

Papercrafting designer Sharon Harnist, one of our Design and Education/Instruction team members, is back this month to share her tips for coloring and shading roses with Copic markers.

Flowers and botanical images are my favorite things to color and one of the most requested tutorials. Today, I'll show you a few tips for achieving realistic coloring, shading, and shadows for flowers and leaves.

Coloring roses with Copic MarkersSupplies:

Coloring roses with Copic Markers


Stamp image with Tsukineko Memento Tuxedo Black ink onto X-Press It Blending Card. Then choose a Copic 3-color blending group (here I used R20, R22, R27) and quickly base coat the roses with the lightest color. 

You don’t need to be concerned with taking your time and coloring in small circular motion—you’ll be doing enough blending later!  You can even leave the a few areas white, like the very tip ends of the petals. Here, I’m using R20:

How to color roses with Copic Markers

The illustrator will usually give you an idea of where the shading, or deeper/darker colors should be. These areas will usually be cross-hatched or indicated with lines or stippling. Color those areas with your mid-tone color (R22).

How to color flowers with Copic Markers

Go back with your first, lightest marker (R20) and blend the colors together.

Color roses with Copics

Also, keep in mind that areas/petals that are closer to you will appear lighter and petals that are towards the back or bottom of the flower will naturally appear darker. Color those areas with either your mid-tone or your darkest color (I used R22 and R27). The rose on the left has the darkest R27 color added, while the rose on the right does not - you can really tell the depth this adds!

Then go back and add some depth to your mid-tones and deepest recesses of the flowers with your darkest color (R27). Also, where some petals cast a shadow on other petals, use your darkest color to indicate shadows. Blend with your mid-tone color, if necessary.

Color leaves with Copics


Again, choose a 3-color Copic blending group (I used G21, G24, G28). Quickly base coat the leaves and stems with the lightest color in your blending group (G21), leaving a few white spaces as highlights if you wish:

Color leaves with Copic Markers

Use your mid-tone color to add depth to the areas indicated by the illustrator (usually on the lower half of the leaf) and on leaves that are further away from you or towards the back of the plant (G24). You can go back and use the lightest G20 to blend the two colors together, if needed.

Color leaves with Copic Markers

Use the darkest color in your blending group (G28) to add depth to the leaves and where any leaves might be turned away from you.  Pay attention to the bottoms of the leaves (where they would naturally have less sunlight cast on them).

Do the same on the stems and other leaves, where some leaves might cast a shadow on the stems and leaves below them.

Color flowers with Copics

Note: White seam binding ribbon was custom colored with Copic R22 and R24 Various Ink Refills. Roses were cut out and popped up on X-Press It High-Tack Foam Tape.

Flower card with Copics

Find more Copic papercrafting inspiration from Sharon at PaperFections.


Topics: Illustration, Copic

Sharon Harnist
Sharon Harnist on May 8, 2017

A lifetime crafter and scrapbooker since 1995, Sharon was first introduced to rubber stamping and cardmaking in February 2004. She immediately fell in love with this form of papercrafting and shortly thereafter became a demonstrator and instructor of rubber stamping, cardmaking and scrapbooking. Sharon began designing for rubber stamp and papercrafting tool manufacturers, and online retail stores in February 2007. Since then, she has had her work featured in major papercrafting magazines and on display at International trade shows. Sharon resides in southern coastal Texas with her husband of 21 years and two teenage daughters. She enjoys photographing her family and the tropical vacation destinations they love to explore.