How to Draw a Neo Traditional Rose

A neo traditional rose tattoo gives you a bit more freedom than a traditional Sailor Jerry rose. In the neotraditional style, you have more freedom when it comes to color, line weights, etc., meaning you need to broaden the way you think about tattoo designs when working on a neo traditional tattoo. 

If you plan to do neo traditional tattoos, you need to be able to draw roses in the same style to fill in gaps in your designs. Roses are also a good way to add flow to your tattoos.

If you struggle with drawing “off the top of your head,” keep reading. In this article, we’ll explain:

  • How to create unique neo traditional rose designs (without copying another artist)
  • Which details you can add to make a neo traditional rose
  • How to add flow to your rose tattoo designs

Neo Traditional Rose Tattoo Design Tutorial


Take Reference Photos of Real Roses

If you have a hard time drawing roses from scratch, you can take your own reference photos of real roses. If you cannot plant your own roses, plant nurseries and botanical gardens that are open to the public are good places to start looking.

We recommend looking for roses that are nice and open. Finding rose bushes in areas with good lighting will also help. These images will become references for your tattoo designs.

Pro Tip:

Take a water bottle with you to sprinkle water on the roses. This will let you add water droplets on the flowers. This is especially helpful if you’re going to tattoo realism.


Prepare Your Design

Once you pick the image you’re going to use as a reference, you can put it into Procreate on an iPad and turn down the opacity. (This will make it easier to see when you’re drawing over it.)


Map Out Your Shapes

Start drawing on a new layer in Procreate and pick a sketching brush. We recommend sketching this first layer with red. 

Loosely sketch out the shapes of the rose to map out your design. Because you will want the rose to flow with the shape of the body, you might want to change where the leaves are in the rose. 

You can use multiple references - including other neo traditional rose designs. However, we recommend relying the most on actual photos of roses. This will make sure that you are incorporating your own style and that you’re getting the natural flow of the rose. 

In this stage, you’re only sketching. Your design does not need to be at a perfect, final stage yet. Instead, this is the time where you can figure out where you want to add extra things, where you want to move petals to improve the flow, etc.


Build Up Your Design’s Structure

In a new layer, you can continue sketching in blue. In this layer, you want to focus on the structure of your design and making sure your design has nice lines. 

We recommend hiding the layer with your reference image because you’ve already used the information from the photo to guide your design. At this point, you’ll want to make things more stylized and continue to improve the flow of the design, which the reference won’t help with. 

You can also turn down the opacity on your red sketching layer to make it easier to see what you’re drawing. 

This blue sketching layer still isn’t your final product, but you will want to start making decisions on where everything needs to go. If you need to go through with a second blue sketching layer, that can help you continue to map out your design or experiment with different ideas.

Neo Traditional Style Tips

Neo traditional tattoos aren’t as dramatic with their proportions as new school tattoos, but it is still heavily stylized. Feel free to change the shape and size of petals, make their edges more curved or pointed, etc. 

While the reference photo is there to help you get the general shape, you create a neo traditional design by adding details to make it more visually appealing. The entire time you’re designing a neo traditional tattoo, you want to keep the flow of the body in mind. This might mean adding extra leaves, moving petals, etc.


Draw Final Linework

Now that you have everything sketched out how you want it, you’ll go in and create the linework so the design is exactly how you will tattoo it.

This stage should be pretty easy because all your lines should be in the right place. The goal is to go over what you’ve already done with clean, black lines. 

This will be the final design that you use to make your tattoo stencil.

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

Learning to draw stylized roses is an important step in your journey, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist. 

However, finding the straight-forward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need to build your skills and create incredible tattoos. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to start tattooing full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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