I did a bit of experimenting with this one. First I did some lose ink sketches of various rose shaped flowers and leaves. I scanned them in and image traced the shapes in Illustrator.
I knew that I wanted to make these look like they were painted. I've been really inspired by a few wonderful watercolor artists on Instagram. For these I used the scanned watercolor forms in Nicky Laatz's Give Me Watercolours Textures Quick Pack. I used clipping masks and layer adjustments to get the look I wanted. I also created the repeat in Photoshop.
The background is from Nicky Laatz's Give me Watercolour in Illustrator! Pack. This pack is cool because all of the swatches are repeating in Illustrator. I converted the background to black and white, adjusted the levels and put a dissolve on the layer.
I understand that I cannot fully achieve the look of real watercolor without, well, painting, but I really liked how this one came out.
Here is a closer view.
*please note that the written comments and opinions are my own and not paid or solicited.