watercolor leaves tutorial

12 Watercolor Leaves: Step-by-Step Watercolor Tutorial

Watercolor leaves give you an opportunity to add character to your watercolor landscapes and watercolor trees. Below, we present a step-by-step watercolor tutorial for you to master your craft and take your watercolor art to the next level. 

Let’s take a look at what we’ll need. . .

Watercolor Supplies Needed:

  • Genuine Crafts’ Watercolor Paint (48-pan watercolor set)
  • 2 jars of clean water
  • Paper towels for blotting
  • 2 watercolor brushes (#2 and #9 round brushes)

In today’s tutorial, La Môme is using Genuine Craft’s watercolor paint to create 12 different types of watercolor leaves. This particular set is beneficial when painting watercolor leaves because of its nine different shades of green, however, any set of watercolor paints will do.

Let’s get started!

Note: Make sure to stick around for step #6 where we go over how to add detail to all leaves!

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Step-by-Step Watercolor Leaves Tutorial

#1: Using the belly of your brush to create watercolor leaves

The first watercolor leaf we will do is basically done in two strokes. Using the belly of your brush (meaning a little bit of pressure should be applied), make two opposite sweeping strokes, dragging the darker initial pigment down throughout your leaf. 

You’ll see the very nature of the stroke gives different tones to your green throughout the leaf. This gives it a sort of textured appearance you are looking for. Notice on the photos below, you’ll see which end of each leaf the stroke was started on by its darker appearance.

After that, use the tip of your watercolor brush to add finer details to each end of your leaf such as a pointed tip or stem from the bottom. Feel free to leave some negative space in-between the strokes on your leaf.

Then, you are free to add as many leaves from different stems as you please, like so:

Tutorial #1: Using the belly of your brush to create watercolor leaves

#2: A smaller, lighter, rounder version of watercolor leaves

Just as you did above, start with one leaf and stem, but this time, using even a lighter colored green-yellow. Also, your two opposite strokes should be in a more circular shape.

Still use the tip of your brush to make a stem which thins out the further you drag it from the leaf.

In addition, the color of your leaves can get lighter the further they are from the top leaf. Let’s see an image so you can visualize properly:

Tutorial #2: A smaller, lighter, rounder version of watercolor leaves

#3: A thicker, more fulfilling, darker version of the above watercolor leaves

This time, you will want to add some darker pigment to your color. Sometimes, adding red to a light green can result in the mossy type of tone. However, in this one, we will go for a blend closer to turquoise.

Color is, as always, dependent on your style and does not need to be followed. So, go ahead and experiment!

Notice how the leaves have been painted closer together and there is less negative space in this style? Make a note of that if your painting requires less white space.

As you move further down the stem, it may be necessary to give the leaves outline strokes before using the belly of the brush to fill it in (as seen in the middle photo below). This depends on your experience level and comfort with your watercolor brushes.

In this type of leaf, you can make the tones darker as you move down the stem.

Tutorial #3: A thicker, more fulfilling, darker version of the above watercolor leaves

#4: Mushroom watercolor eucalyptus

There’s really no rhyme or reason to this next variation of leaves. In watercolor, we like to call it the ‘mushroom leaf’ and it is very easy to replicate. You can see from our finished result:

Watercolor Leaves mushroom leaves

We like to use the mushroom leaf in unbalanced white space when appropriate. It’s a great filler for a busy piece. It’s quick, easy, and effective!

#5: Painting a watercolor eucalyptus with no central stem

Remember when we used to draw fire flames as a kid? That’s sort of how we imagine this variation of watercolor plants/ leaves.

Be delicate, light, and strategic with your brush. You kind of have to move with instinct. Just as you did drawing flames as a child. Go in the direction you think the flames (leaves) should move, but always stroke from the inside-out.

Tutorial #5: Painting a watercolor eucalyptus with no central stem

#6: Blotting for watercolor leaves

This next leaf uses a technique similar to blotting, but with your watercolor brush. Paint the stem as in most of our leaf designs in this tutorial. 

Then, instead of making a smooth stroke for the top leave, you are going to want to lightly blot the top of the stem into the shape of a crunchy leaf.

Work your way down the stem, lightly dabbing each individual leaf. Start thick and eventually thin your dabbing as you move outward from the stem. 

Remember, no two leaves have to be symmetrical.

Tutorial #6: Blotting for watercolor leaves

Here are six more examples of watercolor leaves you can try!

Watercolor Leaves 6 kinds

#7: Adding veins and other fine details to your watercolor leaves

Once you have painted a collection of watercolor eucalyptus and they have been allowed time to dry, it’s time to add details to each!

Details can come in the form of leafy veins, highlights, shadows, or whatever else you want to add to give it texture. Here’s a look at a little bit of all final details for your reference (make sure details are done with a dry brush once the bottom layer of paint has dried)!

Tutorial #7: Adding veins and other fine details to your watercolor leaves
Tutorial #7: Adding veins and other fine details to your watercolor leaves 2
watercolor leaves tutorial

Painting Watercolor Leaves!

We hope you have enjoyed our quick tutorials and displays of how to paint watercolor eucalyptus. If you would like to get into the art of painting watercolor flowers, check out our all-inclusive tutorial for painting 12 beautiful flowers!

If you have questions about watercolor technique or the paintings you see above, feel free to leave a comment in the section below!

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About the Author: Watercolor Classes

Hello, and welcome to our site. We've been passionate about watercolor for years and have learned a lot along the way. We hope our tutorials and tips will help you out on your watercolor journey. Let's make art together!

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