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Rose Pencil Art

Megan McTavish | May 8, 2017

Learn how to create amazing pencil art with this simple rose tutorial by Megan McTavish. Follow along to learn new techniques for drawing with graphite!


For this tutorial I was provided with five different Aristo mechanical pencils by Imagination International Inc. I am not very familiar with using mechanical pencils because I almost always use wood pencils. My first impression was that the Aristo pencils were all generally the same, just different packaging. However, as I started to work with them, I found each is uniquely suited for a specific part of my drawing process. Below is a tutorial of a rose drawn with four different Aristo pencils and a Nobby 3mm pencil. Each step describes what I did and tips you can use in your drawings as well as the Aristo pencils I used and how they worked at each step.



Step 1: Sketch

When sketching out an image, the goal is not to put down a lot of details – you just want the basic shapes. I started with a round-ish shape that defined the outside edge of the rose. Then I drew in angled lines that defined the outermost petals and began to give shapes to the interior petals. Remember to draw lightly, using less pressure, so your lines are easy to change and adjust when you need to do so. 

Pencil Used: DK2 0.5


Step 2: Detailed Line Drawing

In this step, I began to define my sketchy lines by paying attention to the distances between each of the petals and taking note of which petals overlapped others. The comparison is very important throughout the drawing process. I was constantly looking and comparing one petal to the petals around it regarding size and shape. Careful observation in this step will help you make fewer changes to edges when you start shading. Clean up any extra lines that are not needed. 

Pencil Used: Geo-Pen PRO 0.35

I found that the Geo-Pen PRO was the best choice for this step since it has a 0.35 lead size. This delicate lead allowed me to draw very fine lines with ease. The eraser on the Geo-Pen PRO was too large to erase between the lines in the center of the rose, so I returned to the DK2 to use its smaller sized eraser when I needed it.


Step 3: Add Darkest Shadows

Here I located all of my dark shadowed areas in my reference photo and used the detailed line drawing from the previous step to make sure that the shadows were placed correctly. This step starts the process of making the rose look 3-dimensional.  You do not need to make these shadows very dark at this point. Once you get other values on your drawing, you can darken these areas as you need to. Use the shadows to define the edges of the surrounding petals. When looking at your reference photo, also pay attention to where you see the dark areas turn into mid-tones and highlights. 

Pencil Used: 3fit 0.9

For this step I chose to use the 3fit 0.9 pencil. The lead is soft and gave me the dark tones I was looking for.


Step 4: Mid-Tones

To fill in the mid-tones, I used the same amount of pressure throughout the drawing. I made sure that my pencil strokes were going in the direction the petals were setting. I also started merging my dark shadows with my mid-tones. Be sure to pay attention to the “shape” of the shadows. Try to draw what you see.

Pencil Used: W1 0.5

At this point, I was not sure how the Aristo pencils were going to fill in space. When I normally work with wood pencils, I can turn the pencil on its side and fill large areas, but with mechanical pencils I was not sure it would work the same way. To my surprise I found the W1 0.5 worked perfectly for this step. The W1 feels more like the wood pencils than any of the other Aristo pencils, which was helpful during this step of the drawing. The W1 is light in weight and had the right lead density to apply smoothly the mid-tones to my drawing.


Step 5: Blending

Once I placed all of the mid-tones and shadows on the drawing, I started to blend them together with a blending stick. The image on the left shows the lower half of the drawing blended smooth, and the top still has the texture of the pencil. I wanted to give you a visual of the texture difference. The image on the right shows what it looks like when the rose is blended throughout the whole drawing.

Tools Used: Blending Stick & Q-tip

When using a blending stick, be sure to clean it by rubbing the tip on a scratch piece of paper to get as much graphite off as possible. This will help you to keep your lighter areas light and not blend darker tones where you don’t want them. Since blending sticks are usually two sided, I use one side for blending my darker tones and the other for blending my lighter tones.


Step 6: Erase Highlights and Lighter Tones

Now I use the small eraser on the DK2 to draw in my highlights and remove the graphite in areas where I see lighter tones. A kneaded eraser is a great way to remove small amounts of graphite until you achieve the tone you intended. Next I blend my highlights into my light tones, and then my light tones into my mid-tones using my blending stick and Q-tips. The Q-tips work well to blend into tiny areas and crevices. Blending will also blur the edges of your forms (petals), so after this step it is important to go back through and re-define the edges of the petals either with your pencil or kneaded eraser.

Tools Used: DK2 Eraser and Kneaded Eraser


Step 7: Last Touches

To finish up the drawing I darkened in my deepest shadows with my 3mm Nobby pencil (4B). I continued to compare and alter the tones in each petal, paying close attention to how each petal moved around the petals next to it. Although each petal is important, it is also necessary to step back and see the whole rose. Which petals are darker overall and which ones are lighter? Do all of the highlights and shadows consistently match where the light source is coming from?

Tools Used: Q-tip, Kneaded Eraser, Nobby 3mm, 3fit, Geo-Pen PRO

I went back to use the Geo-Pen PRO (0.35) to sharpen each of the edges of the petals, especially the petals in the center of the rose. The lines can easily get mixed up or muddled, so look carefully. Once I define a line I make sure that I blend those new values into the existing ones around it to stay with my smooth value changes. I was very surprised by the diversity of the Aristo pencils. I was able to use them at different steps of my process and still create a drawing that looks like I used my wood pencils.



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Topics: Illustration

Megan McTavish
Megan McTavish on May 8, 2017

Megan first started drawing Disney cartoons and eventually moved on to Anime characters at a very young age. Learning to draw from images inspired her passion for photorealism today. Mainly working with graphite Megan enjoys drawing photorealistic portraits and is currently an Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Camarillo, CA.