10 minute Watercolor leaf studies - Perfect for card making, gift tags, and interior decoration! | Kate Bentley SWA | Skillshare

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10 minute Watercolor leaf studies - Perfect for card making, gift tags, and interior decoration!

teacher avatar Kate Bentley SWA, Professional Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Hello and welome!

    • 2. Lets look at leaves

    • 3. Two basic techniques to start

    • 4. Adding details, and a third leaf

    • 5. One more technique to try and finishing touches

    • 6. Combining our techniques for a multi-tone leaf

    • 7. Review and thank you!

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About This Class

Have you ever seen any great nature studies and thought they'd be great to hang on the wall?

Well, this tutorial will show you how to make your own professional-looking studies in less than 10 minutes!

In this tutorial, aimed at Beginners and improvers, we will look at a variety of simple techniques to enhance your skill base.

We will look at inventive tips and tricks for effective use of watercolours to produce realistic leaves...wet in wet,colour overlay, lifting technique, printing, brush and water control.

List of Materials.


Paint comes in 1/2 pan, full pan, or tubes.

I would  buy tubes from the Winsor and Newton or Daler Rowney manufacturers if you have a choice

You might  struggle using pans of colour  later as it is difficult to mix large quantities for skies etc but if thats what you already have then thats fine...you can always buy the odd tube of blue!

Paints I use in my normal painting kit

  • French Ultramarine
  • New Gamboge /Indian Yellow (or  Quinacridone gold)
  • Aureolin/Lemon yellow
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Rose Madder or Quinacridone Magenta
  • Raw Umber-I only use Daler Rowney's version of this colour as it remains dark when diluted and is non-staining. If you can't find this use the darkest brown you have.
  • Raw sienna
  • Manganese blue (transparent) or cerulean


  • *Cadmium red and yellow
  • *Prussian Blue/Indigo
  • *Crimson Alizarin
  • *Colbalt

*Not absolutely necessary but can be useful!


I prefer to use Acrylic hairbrushes on the whole and they are cheaper than sable!. I recommend you start off with this type.

 Rounds; acrylic haired (not sable/hog)- No 12


 I use Rosemary's brushes Designer range for my No 12 round (only available from Rosemary's Brushes direct)

 and Pro-art  Prolene Plus  007 Acrylic No 12 round watercolour brushes are great, readily available but a bit more expensive funnily enough.

Flat; acrylic haired (not sable/hog)-  No 4 (and 12 or depending upon labelling- 1cm and a 2cm)


Mop headed brush (soft hair )


Drawing board-MDF or Plywood A2-3 size

Masking tape-2 inch wide- no less

Mixing palette  –with flat mixing areas or white china plate and old jar lids

 2 large Water containers (the size of a child's seaside bucket is ideal)

Kitchen towel/paper

Pencils e.g. 2B and sharpener/rubber and watercolour pencils if you already have them




 -A selection of A4, A3, Bockingford ‘NOT’ watercolour paper- or Seawhite or Langton

 preferably 140lb- 200lbs

NB If you go to any art shop –ask for advice- especially regarding papers- the whole business can be very confusing if you are a beginner.





Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kate Bentley SWA

Professional Artist


 Kate Bentley S.W.A. is an multi award-winning professional painter based in the English Lake District.

She is an elected member of the Society of Women Artists and The Lakes Artists Society and her work is held in both private and public collections.

 When time and Covid 19 allows Kate runs private painting workshops in the Lyth Valley in the Southern Lake District.

Kate has broad teaching experience and has been teaching for 25 years and in the past has worked for painting holiday specialists Authentic Adventures, Solo Holidays and P&O Cruises.



Kate Bentley S.W.A.  

In the studio Kate usually works from her imagination often referring to sketches from en-plein air exp... See full profile

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1. Hello and welome! : Hi, it's Kate from the lakes. Unfortunately, I'm moved to Scotland now so I can't use I catch phrase. All right, Stay what we do with, with apply some of the techniques that we learned in the beginner's video that I've done earlier. If you want to have catched up before you start this one, That's a great idea. And apply some of the techniques to painting leaves and petals if we have time at the end. So by the end of this video, we're going to end up with a series of leaves. I've just used the same one and repeated different techniques on local. I think you probably learn better that way then we flitting from differently to different leaf. All the techniques that I've used you can apply to most leaves that I've ever had to paint. So it's like a little library that you, you'll be able to use. I've done, I don't want to recommend that maybe you do them on for individual sheets or you put masking tape around. Because in hindsight, what I've realized is actually they can make really lovely little pieces that you could mount and putting small cheap frames and put on the wall. And then Hampshire interiors. This one, a little vial of it. I didn't get to do in the video because it was getting a little bit too long, but separately. And you get again, I've just simply mounted it and again, put it in a nice frame. And yeah, you've got some lovely compliment to your interiors. So let's go. 2. Lets look at leaves: Okay, So I've just been in the low ground, my garden and try to find as many variants on a leaf shape as I can with a little bit of color. It's the end of August here in the UK. So things, somethings are just sort of going over. We've got some nice color coming into the geranium. And this actually. So what we're gonna do is I'm going to give you a few tips and tricks to how to deal with the shapes. And then hopefully we're going to make them. And just so nice, It'll still lives. It may be you can use as cards or simply frame them and display them on your walls. 3. Two basic techniques to start: Okay, So we go, I've just chosen a leaf of a fiber. And it's pretty much a standard green leaf. So I'm going to show you first of all a few different ways of how you would or could paint this. So I'm going to do two side-by-side because we have to wait for things to dry in-between. If you see my handouts shot, it generally means I've got pig tissue in it. If you keep seeing my ongoing in and out is because I'm actually drying my brush, show my tissue. Okay, So this, this form is going to be the COO bit more experimental and I'm going to just brush the paint onto the leaf. So those of you who are a bit nervous about your drawing skills, this actually can be quite a good trick with relief. And then just get a piece of either just a piece of paper or a tissue or a piece of cloth. We just mentioned, do you make a print of that? Quite happy with that. And then what I should've done really, it's got another one so that we could see without all the yellow paint on it. But what we're going to do with our second one, working on to here, just going to paint it. And a yellow for semi-pro. Don't mix the colors on the paper. This is REO Lynn, which is hiphop lemon yellow. It's sort of pretty similar. This looks a bit dirty. It's because my brush is actually dirty paint, but you just have a, such a more of a greenish brown hue to it. Okay, so before I put this on, you can see that the vein, so a lighter, which is why I'm doing this in two parts. There's also the yellow layer first and then a green on top. There is an expletive, a serrated edge there. So could actually just push the edges out a little. This is not a completely smooth, very, very faint. Some of the beliefs that you might like to do have a slightly bigger spike on the edge, you can exaggerate that. So we need to let that dry. I'm going to do on this one. So I'm just going to sorry my brush. So you don't know what's in it. It's going to softly blend map where we've lost a bit of our color code, they stoke in. And then we need to let that dry. 4. Adding details, and a third leaf : Okay. So these two are dry. I'm also going to do a third one. Yeah. Show you different different way. Just quickly. Texture on the edge. Now we're going to mix some colors. She on the paper. This is similar. In a previous video. We mixing the colors on the paper rather than on the palette. This way you get nice such a variation and some leaves the loop simply not this, not, not especially this one. Some leaves have more mottled appearance to the I'm just going to let that be for a minute. You say when you go back to and this one. And what we're going to do is we're going to print this pattern on top of that in a, I'm going to make security a greenish color in in my semi yellow, maybe a bit darker than that. He wanted to do some color matching. Remember, just a swatch, probably go a bit darker, maybe even a little bit of Rho remember in that you wanted to true match. So that's not bad. I'm just a little bit more paint. So this is really good fun. And it's the sort of thing that you can make your own rules for really see as we go along. Some things really well. And other things. Why does the joy you, they 0? So this one, it's going to print top. See if that works. I think that works. And then we can come out a little bit by dropping in a little bit of green in some of the areas where it hasn't quite taken. So obviously I'd like you to paint your own lives and be able to draw, but I know that some of you don't have the confidence just yet, so let's just be kind to ourselves. And we can work into that. That's keeping you a bit of a template. And I'm guessing now you know what I'm going to do with this one. So I'm going to put the wash over the top and hope it does. The patents stayed well enough for us to paint over without any mishaps. Takes a sort of lightness of touch really. And in fact, what you could do is to wet it. You could wet it first with your wash brush. Softer, whole dish. It's a low angle so you're not shifting the paint underneath. And you're not really shifting the pattern too much. Just gone over that. I can you see that? So let's just write the up. Any of these things that you draw, try in, mock the most straight away. And the same here. You can lift some of those trails out, do it when it's wet. So I'm not going to go over put victory over the top with the yellow. See if this works. Push sap green to the edge. Leaf always looks a bit better with a little bit of texture around the edge and the ego. So you've got three versions of this leaves, these leaves and oldness slightly different way. So what we can do here, we can lift out that central vein or we can score it. So so a few ways you can do it. You could do it with your fingernail and this little box here. I've got some bits of credit card and also some cocktail sticks. Cocktails stake will score. So if the surface is really wet, you get a dark line. And why you see the surface. It's starting to dry. I'll get a light line. So depending on whether the vein is darker or lighter, when the leaf color, you have to do, you'll have to time it so that you really doing it on wet paper or dry paper. So this one here is just about to dry. So we've got probably going to get a lighter line if I come down here. Much, just missed my window of opportunity. Actually, I think it's just dry it a little bit too much. And you see the light lines. So if your LEA has lighter veins, That's one way of doing it. You can see here where it's wetter and getting darker values. So again, that's up to you how you do that. And another way of doing it is to lift out. So I'm using my flat brush here. So on this one I'm going to lift out a little bit more paint on that central vein. Lifting back to the yellow which is underneath. And you can put in more detail as you like. So these are all low lightness leaf, which I've shown you three different ways of trying to produce a leaf. And I'm just going to do a full form which is going to be a little bit more experimental. 5. One more technique to try and finishing touches: So what I'm going to do is I'm just going to again do my base color is a yellow underpainting. And I'm working on dry hay, but you could equally do it on a wet. If you had a multiple glee. Nice to do it on what I think. And I'm just going to draw that with a hair dryer. Okay, so I'm going to mix a blue, make quite a dark green, little bit of the brown, the role remember, into that green. If you're unsure as to whether you thought that was the right, cool. Let's go over the yellow. Then. Do yourself a swatch. Let that dry and put this green over the top and you can see whether you think you've got about the right color. I just don't think I quite got enough mixed just a little bit with our yellow in there. And then I think I've got enough because my paper is warm because I've just used the hair dry. Honor. It I'm going to do touch the on wet. I'm just going to put a little bit of water on there. You could do it on dry. You just have to be a bit quick. Put in, give actually mix enough paint to be honest. You've got the general idea. I'm just going to push those edges out just to touch. And then we're going to use cling film here to give us a bit of texture. I'm going to screw it up. You could use an old plastic bag. Something like him, a lightweight sandwich bag, something like that, that can work quite well. And I'm just going to screw it up to give us the texture that we need. Pressing it down. If I was to lift that off now, the paint softly bleed in so we get some texture, but it wouldn't be, it would be soft edged. If we let it dry a little. The edges will dry with a crisper edge. So you get more of a dramatic effects. So using this technique we use it in, I'll use it in lots of different ways, lots of different subject matter. You just need to be aware of that. So I'm just going to let that dry and I'll be back with you in a bit. Okay. So I've taken the cling film off and I'm not pleased with that. But I'm also going to do is try and improve it. And then if it doesn't work, then we haven't lost anything. It's just a piece of paper. We can try again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't have just dropped some green into that leaf there and that's now going to be my way. So I'm just going to actually just block that off so that I don't get it on my hand. So now using my flat brush. So I've pinch date to a 0.6 damp should now be able to lift out a lighter central vein by picking out the pain. So this is a good technique for variegated leaves. So you have to keep cleaning your brush. It's I could do match day as well as taking up the cling film earlier. And I could have scored three like I did on this one. You can also soften some of those patterns if you don't like them. Okay. And obviously you can also put in, put in some color. So mixing a little bit of the dark green in there, we can emphasize the veins a little bit. So where I've got a dark, sorry, light edge, I'm going to put a little bit of dark along the edge of it. Well, some of the bits where I've lost some of the lines, it's over a light patch. I can use my dark feigning with my regular. And you can say put in as much or as little detail as you like. I often just press my finger in just to soften it a bit. And you can just keep on going. Greeley. If you wanted to, some lighter veins in there, you're going to have to use an opaque paint. So something like cadmium yellow here, we've got here is going to be good because that'll sit on top of your paint because it is a Paik. Obviously that color there as a little bit too bright. So I would just knock it back a little bit. But I've still got a fair amount of a Paik NAS in. Again, try your calorie out if you like. So if I wanted to go over some of these darker areas and lighten it a little with that yellow. I can do that. And I can add a little bit more yellow. I want to pick it up a little bit. Okay, and I could go back to our cling film on TV saying little bit. Central vein. Okay, So I've done, I have to enforce all at one go. But she might feel less confident and you might like to just concentrates on one at a time. It doesn't look too much like the original leaf, but it gives you a sort of like a little library of ideas and techniques that you can use when you are painting things like leaves and tree and tree is not trees. Flowers were following the same sort of program with our lifting out, reintroduced a bit of printing today. We've introduced a cocktail stick for scratching out, use your fingernail. And we've used also introduce a little bit of a pink color that we're using to sit on top of our transparent colors, so they come forward. So we also use clingo to choose a bit of texture. And I say, and the printing. So I think we've done quite a bit today. So you, That's probably a couple of hours worth of you. Painting along with some of the techniques I've done, a may be thinking, creating some of your own techniques. 6. Combining our techniques for a multi-tone leaf: All right, so what I thought would be quite nice now, follow on from our leaves is to do a leaf with a little bit more color. And I've also got a viola here. The techniques that I'm going to use a similar in both and I might try and do them alongside each other. So again, those of you who may be your drawing skills aren't great. You can maybe prints with this. Or another technique is if you get a hot, I can't do it here because I've got a ring light. But if you get a directional light, you can actually put, creates a shadow when you can draw around the shadow to get your leaf shape as well. So what I'm thinking here is I want to work wet in wet because half of my leaf, I'm looking, not looking at the pink and the browns on the, this area here, I'm looking at the background color. So the leaf is faded. Two yellows at this side and two greens, greens. So you might like to just to spend a few minutes just mixing up whatever colors you have, seeing which greens you can make from the yellows and blues you've got or you might have some premix greens anyway. I don't tend to buy any green, so I've got Oreo in there and I've got lucky bit of cadmium here. So this is a good exercise and I've got some raw sienna. And then what you can do is to add the blues that you have. So this is ultramarine, something here. What does that look like? What green design gave me. I add it to the REO Lynn. What does it give me if I add it to the cadmium. And what does it give me if I add it to the raw sienna. And then you end up with three different greens. And then you could do it with your other blues and your other, you know, if you've got Sandy or the yellows that you have. And so just help you gauge which color to use. I'm thinking actually that the cadmium yellow, which is a Paik and the ultramarine probably is quite good, Makes you just need to be aware that if you use more than warm, opaque color in watercolor painting, you risk things going muddy. So say give it a go, but be aware. So I'm going to do my first layer in. I kept me, I'm so you could draw it out. Or little tip here is actually just to use dilute paint. A big fan of just going straight in. And I can always lift anything. So if I didn't like that, I can rub it out. It's no different to using a rubber. So just do that again. And these have got scalloped edges again, you could just paint a more tougher so dilute water. Just getting a little bit of that scalloped edge going on. You don't want any dry surfaces. That's the key here. Big curve at the bottom and another curve. And then the rest scholars write that. And then I said I'd added the ultramarine to it. Let's see what happens here. Okay. I'm quite got the right color actually. Maybe continue back to them. May say I'm going to do well, so that's nice and wet is I'm going to put my dog things in such I want to miss the opportunity. So I'm good to go. My surface. They become more dominant as the paint dries. You might not be able to see what's happening just a moment. Let this stage as well. I'm just going to lift out that little bit civilized. And it's a little bit lighter down here. And then I want to make soap so that my sudden warm. So I've got some burnt sienna. And I also just have a little bit of cadmium red. Need literally just tiny bit because all you need, don't even think I'm funny thing that's dried up. But look, let's just do that. I'll be sufficient. Thing is as well as it goes absolutely everywhere. If you haven't got cadmium red, you could use Winsor red, anything that's like a pillar box red, that's warm. So what we have to decide now is, do we work on this wet in wet or do we wet, let it dry and re-wet it. So let's just have a look at these colors. So you've got a little example here. So let's see. Sit on dry. This is on what? So I think I'm going to go for it on wet because it's not gonna flow too far away. As it goes around this corner. Amazing mode, the pink and less of the sienna. And any bits that are a little hard edged, Hey, where it's dried, you've got a damp brush and we can just soften them if you want them to be soft. Some markings like on this plant here which I've forgotten the name of. It's a bit like a metal, has quite strong edges to the marking. But here this one hasn't. Just going to drop a little bit all term center there should hopefully spread out and lift a little bit of light as well, which are still working. And I think a little bit a doc just is that's coming in to the lift a little bit of light out. And I think that'll do.