Coloring and Shading Flowers by Sharon Harnist

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.

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


1.  Stamp image with Tsukineko Memento Tuxedo Black ink onto Copic X-Press It Blending Card.

2. Choose a 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:

Coloring and shading flowers with Copics

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

Coloring and shading flowers with Copics

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

Coloring and shading flowers with Copics

5. 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):

Coloring and shading flowers with Copics

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, can’t you?

6. 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.


7. Again, choose a 3-color 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:

Coloring and shading flowers with Copics

8. 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):

Coloring and shading flowers with Copics

9. Go back and use the lightest G20 to blend the two colors together, if needed.

Coloring and shading flowers with Copics

10. (Above) – 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, showing 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.

Coloring and shading 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 Copic High-Tack Foam Tape.

Coloring and shading flowers with Copics

Find more Copic papercrafting inspiration from Sharon:
Copic Color Gallery:

Copic Sketch Markers: R20, R22, R24, G21, G24, G28
Copic Various Ink Refills: R22, R24
Stamps: JustRite Papercraft-With Sympathy clear stamp set
Paper: Copic X-Press It Blending Card; Lily Bee Design-Head Over Heels 6×6 Tiny Tablet;
Gina K Lipstick Red Heavy Base Weight cardstock
Ink: Memento Tuxedo Black
Accessories: Copic Double-Sided Foam TapeSpellbinders Romantic Rectangles die; white paper doily; white seam binding; sewing machine + thread

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  • Rita Kegg

    I have a question … how do you color a sunset/sunrise when you want a blue sky in some areas with yellow, red, and oranges in it for the sun rays showing through.  Every time I color them over the blue I get green …. not what I want for a sky. Can you do a tutorial this?  Thanks

    • Copic Marker

      Hi Rita! Great question. We’ll add this to our list of potential topics for upcoming tutorials :)  Thanks!

  • Ednamburgess

    Beautiful.  Wish I could shade like you do.   I try and once in a while I’m happy with the results.  Edna

  • Linda C.

    Gorgeous Sharon!  Thanks for all your valuable tips!

  • Elaine

    Thanks for this great step by step tutorial with tips!  And thanks for sharing the trio of colors used in a color family…this is a big help for purchasing!

  • Debbie Riney

    All the cards needs is some rose fragrance, because they sure do look very real.  Sharon your work shows realism very REAL!  Thanks!

  • Susan

    Awesome tutorial.  Thanks!

  • Sally-Ann Huson

    What a great Tutorial and really helpful tips. Thanks Sharon (Beautiful Card too!)

  • Kona Rose

    Another helpful tutorial, Sharon & just exquisite card! TFS!

  • Carol L

    This is just beautiful, and you’ve made it look so easy to do! Thanks for a great tutorial!

  • Magnoliamajix2

    Roses are so beautiful. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Kaye Orchard


  • Helen

    Love, love this!!!

  • Robinspitzer

    Sharon, ahhhhhhhh, what can I say. Your colorings is simply lifelike, I agree with the comment above, all that is left out is the scent. I have not grabbed my copics in weeks, and your tutorial has inspired me to color today. Love the hint for the ribbon. Love the fussy cut on top of the Doiley.

  • Joanne

    These colours combinations blow me away.  Wonderful Job.  I love flowers, and Copcs.  the copics just seem to make everything alive or more real.

  • angela

    Wowjust wow !!

  • Chadan44

    Thanking you very much, it is very nice and well explained

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