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How to see a Rose with a Designer’s Eye

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Words by Erin, Digital Design Media Manager.

If you find roses a little scary to draw, we don’t blame you. They can have  a lot of petals (up to 40!), and each has a unique set of curves, folds and creases. While it’s easy to get frightened by the detail (we all felt the same in the beginning!), in textile design we learn to look past it. We set out with a very simple plan that helps your final painting ‘read’ correctly in any end product. Senior Designer, Kat shows you how.

Textile Design




Your sketch is the scaffolding for your painting, so it’s very important that you get the proportions and the ‘design’ right at this stage.

1. Simplify it

It sounds counterintuitive, but  DON’T draw what you see. It goes against all understanding of what you might think a good artist is, however recreating your subject closely and convincingly is not actually our goal here. We are more emulating a rose than recreating it exactly.

Textile Design

When placed in a finished design, your motif will likely appear small — somewhere between the size of your palm and a 20 cent piece, let’s say — so there’s no need for intricate detail. In fact, those small details will just get lost or look messy. “If there are a couple of petals close together in your reference, you may want to combine them into one petal,” Kat suggests.

Textile Design

2. Give it more interest

It’s far from a plain flower species but — believe it or not — to a designer, oftentimes there are improvements to be made. “If the flower looks too even and static you may want to accentuate some petals and then completely get rid of other petals to create a more interesting and dynamic shape in your design,” says Kat. See how she’s added more defined petals in the back here, and curled over others? “Use your artistic licence,” she says.

3. Add more detail where it’s needed

This is where you can think about tone. Your lights come forward an your darks push back, while your mid tones transition the two. When you’ve put in some shading, ask yourself: Does it need more dimension? “Add the detail that makes the rose shape easier to interpret or more obvious in a painting,” Kat says.  “An overlapping and foreshortened edge of a petal always gives a lot of dimension,” she points out, so see if you can add that in.

Textile Design

Next: Move onto the painting stages and design it up in Photoshop! In our Print School Course:  Gouache Roses for Textiles: From Drawing to Digital Design. , we let you in on many more studio secrets. We take you though the drawing and painting stages in more detail before showing you how to digitise your elements, design them into surface patterns, or textile designs, and ready them for production. We hope to see you there!


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