This flower is from my "Antique Flowers" Sampler. It is very similar to another flower in my "Les Fleurs des Bois Sampler".
Whats similar? The flower shape is identical. What's different? Color - the antique flower is stitched with a dark muted purple. The contemporary flower is stitched in multiple brighter purples. The stems are very different. The antique flower stem is stylized and made exclusively from cross stitches. The contemporary flower uses a few cross stitches with some backstitches and half stitches thrown in. It is more delicate and realistic.
A few simple choices drastically changed the look of the flower. Whatever shape I design, either simple or complex is shaped by many decisions. Color affects the mood - pastels, brights, darks all have a different look. What stitch do I use? All cross stitches? Do I add backstitching or not? The half stitches are more work but they smooth out the edges so the design isn't as boxy.
A lot of detail can be placed in a simple design that can be surprisingly realistic. And not just in Cross Stitch. One of my favorite websites http://www.conceptistech.com/ has logic picture puzzles (and number puzzles too) called Pic-a-Pix, Fill-a-Pix and Link-a-Pix that are made of simple grids. Most of just two colors - black and white. But they do some with more colors. I've never tried cross stitching any of their designs but you certainly could. Some of their designs are more ambitious than anything I've ever tried to fit into a grid. Some succeed brilliantly and in others you have to lean back, squint and try to figure out what the design is. It didn't strike my until recently that perhaps the reason I enjoy these puzzles so much is that they is so similar cross stitch.