Every Leaf You'll Ever Need! | Denise Hughes | Skillshare

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

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

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (35m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Let's Paint Reference Sheet One

    • 4. Let's Paint Reference Sheet Two

    • 5. Let's Paint Reference Sheet Three

    • 6. Final Thoughts and a Challenge

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About This Class

Every Leaf You'll Ever Need!

Let's learn to paint 20 different types of leaves and foliage.


Meet Your Teacher

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Denise Hughes

Illustrator, Designer, Tutor


Denise Hughes is a freelance illustrator, surface designer and obsessive doodler who lives and works in Hampshire, UK. Denise works from her studio at The Sorting Office in Hampshire which she shares with 16 other makers and designers.

Denise has worked as a freelance illustrator for 10 years and currently licenses her designs internationally. She is represented by The Bright Group International. Denise combines digital work, watercolor and drawing to create her beautiful, contemporary images.

Running workshops and sharing my skills with others online is really rewarding.

I hope you enjoy my classes.

See full profile

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1. Introduction: So let's talk about painting leaves and foliage. There are so many different shapes, kinds, and colors of leaves, and that makes them a wonderful subject to paint. However, sometimes if you're not painting directly from a subject in front of you, it can be really hard to keep all those leaf shapes and forms in your head ready to just pull out when you need them. So what's the answer? Well, a great way to solve this is to create a leaf painting reference pack that you can always refer to and working on any future painting. You could also use this reference pack to help you create greetings cards, but Marx, stationary or different. And by the end of this class, you will be able to paint a variety of different leaf shapes and foliage. And you will have made a useful reference collection of foliage and leaf shapes that you can keep on referring to. 2. Materials: So what you're going to need to paint the leaves is some woodcutter paper. I use the Langton old kind of paper, but a 140 pounds at 300 GSM. And I like to use the hot pressed, which means it has a slightly smoother texture. And or it's watercolor paints a jar of water, some tissue for accidents or for drawing your brush on a planet. And you're watercolor brushes, I'm going to use a number ten round brush. She says, Well, and the number two, and I'll brush, which is this one. 3. Let's Paint Reference Sheet One: We're going to paint three resource sheets in total. So let's get started on the first one. So the Firstly for going to paint is going to be our basic generic leaf shape. And for this, you're going to need to mix up some bright green with a little brown. This leaf consists of two brush strokes. We start with just the tip of the brush on the paper. And then as we pull the push towards us, we put the whole valley of the brush down on the paper and then lift back up to the point. And this gives us 1.5 of the leaf shape. We then do exactly the same on the other half and fit in the middle section. Let me show you some more. So just using the tip of the brush pulled towards you, then put the belly of the brush down and then come up to the tip again. Do that on both sides and then fit in the middle. Tip, belly, tip, tip, belly tip, and fill in the middle. The brush that I'm using to paint these auto leaves is number ten, round brush. And I'm just gonna do one last one. To show you that you can curve the middle bit to one side if you like. So for this leaf, I've mixed up some civilian blue and some cobalt blue. And we first start with one line in the middle. And then on either side of the line. What going to do two leaves that are touching each other at the base. We're doing the leaves in the same way as we did leaf number one. Let's do when again with MR. Kirby Stan this time for getting them in the same way. And then exactly the same on the other side. Again, start out by painting a central stem. But this time, instead of using a pointed leaf shape, we're going to use a rounded leaf shape. And how you do this is by using one continuous brushstroke going from the tip to the belly to the tip of the brush, all in one movement. Link number four is a find. And say for this, we're going to mix up quite yellow, a bright green. So I'm starting with this MIT Green. And I'm gonna get a nice lots of it in the pallet so that my brush can be really full for when I come to use it. And I'm going to add some yellow. So add enough until you start to get that nice lime zesty kind of color. That's about right. So again, we start off with one central stem. I'm pushing it a little bit of a curve in it so that we'll get some movement in the leaf. And now add some branches to the central stem. And you want to space that branches out quite, quite a lot. And you also want to make sure that they're very slightly stepped so that they're not quite in pairs. Again, some calf to these branches because that will give you a fun, some amazement. And now we're going to add beliefs to effect. Such do this. But going to just simply paint little circles in a line all along the bottom edge of each of the branches. And then we're going to match those by painting them along the top edge if all the branches. Now each of those circles should get progressively smaller as you get to the tip of each of the branches. You show you again just a little sort of overly sort of circle shape. And then as you get towards the tip of the branch, they start to get a little bit smaller. And remember that these are pairs of leaves as well, and you do the same on the top of the branch. So onto leaf number five. So for this sleep, we're gonna start again with the central stem. And then we're going to use the same brush technique that we've been using all along. It's just the same thing to make a slightly different shape. So this time it's point belly up, but it had very long strike. And these again are pairs of late so that you could do this without them being pays. So it's really simple and just pull up and give each leaf a bit of a curve. So leave Number six is going to be our two time leaf. And for this we're going to mix up a nice dark green and two that are going to add some yellow icon. And this is going to give this a nice natural look, a nice lossy green color. So again, start with a curved central stem. And we're going to be using the same leaf shape that we used for leaf number one. So it's quite a big broad leaf or the pointy end. We're going to put a second coat on their slave. So let's try it before we do that. For the second layer of this leaf, we're going to make the darker shade. So using the wash that you've already created, add to it with a little bit of dark brown to get a nice Olivier color. And then perhaps add some ultramarine blue or just a dark blue if you have it. And that will give you a lovely dark shade of a similar color. Right back to the painting, but do make sure it's dry before you start. So for this one, we're going to just paint in the bottom half of each leaf. Imagine that top line is the vein that runs through the center of the leaf. So grab your brush and just with one strike, using the tip, pushing down to the belly and up to the tip again. So using that technique that we've used lots of times before, filling the bottom section of each leaf. And what this does is it gives a lifer, lovely three-dimensional failed to it. But it's still quite graphic and illustrative. 4. Let's Paint Reference Sheet Two: Leaf number seven is going to be a conifer type of leaf. So start with a nice dark green color and paint a structure of branches. And then we're going to use the tip of our brush to stick wholesome shapes on. So really by just tapping the color on an around the branches. Remember that as you get towards the end of each of the branches, the leaves will be smolder and they'll be denser towards the central stem. So let me speed this up so you can see that finished leaf, this leaf is going to be a larger and looser version of leaf number three. So belief number eight to again, to start again with a central stem. And we're going to use the brush technique we used for the round leaves. And that is starting from the central point near the stem, at the tip and going around and back to the stem, around one brush stroke and back to the stem. Now we are going to paint a palm leaf. Again. It uses the techniques that we've already practiced, but it's the placing and shape of these individual leaves that make them at the palm. They need to be quite close together in pairs and long and thin. Each individual leaf needs to have a long point. So you need to start lifting your brush up a little sooner than you have done before to get that lovely long pointed shape. To make your lives look more realistic. Let some of the leaves have a little twist in them as if they were moving in the breeze. So leave number ten is going to be the gingko leaf. This is quite an unusual shape leaf. And we're going to need, we're going to need to mix up a really nice, bright, vibrant green for this one. So pick a green and add some yellow into it. And if you look at the shape of the leaf is made up basically of two triangles which connect at the top of the stem. So I'm going to start painting at the base of the right hand side triangle. Nice strong lines going up and then using a brush and the side fit in the top edge. And by doing this, I'm having a brush on the side. You're able to more easily get that sort of jacket, bumpy edge, which is on the outside edge of the leaf. And then connect them both with a long stem. Whether stem joins the leaf, you can see that there's a much darker area. And we want to put this in with paint. So once the paint is still wet, mix up a darker color, and drop it into the stem, working out puts until you get right to the base of the leaf. And just let that paint flood in. Dropping paint onto a painted surface which is still wet, is called the wet in wet technique. So now we're going to make the edges of our leaf a bit lighter. And we're gonna do this by taking a clean brush and drying it off on some tissue paper. And then just gently pulling it along the edge of our leaf because it's still wet. The paint will absorbed back into that dry area. So you weren't getting me hard edges and I'm just going to work that in. So let's do one more. I'm going to show you a little extra that you can add to these ginkgo leaves. But make sure you dry your painting first. Makes up a slightly darker green with your small round brush. And then you can add a few veins onto the leaf shape, which adds texture and makes our leaflet more realistic. And now we're going to paint eucalyptus. So start off with a thin brown central stem with a little bit of a curve to it. Then makes up a light blue green wash. And then only you need to do is to paint rounded shapes that are connected to the central stem. Don't really worry about way you position them. It's absolutely fine to go right in front of the central stem because some of the leaves would be in the front. As you can see, I'm not worrying too much about where I place the leaves. You don't want them to be parallel. You wanted to be a bit haphazard. And also the shapes aren't completely round. Let some of them, they are bit free-form as if they are set at an angle. So I'm also adding a slightly deeper color into the area where the leaf joins the central stem. And I'm just letting that bleed out into the wet paint. And that gives it a nice sense of light and some form. So leave 12 is a simple vein leaf. So first of all, paint your leaf shapes like we did in leaf number one. And perhaps join two or three together. Just to make a slightly different composition. Grab your hair dryer and dry this layer. Once everything is dry, mix up a slightly darker color and then with a very fine tip if you're Brush painting in some vein lines. So that's one central line down the middle. And then, and then pairs of lines either side. And that's a very simple vein leaf. I think the slave was looking a bit flat with just the one color. So when the vanes had dried, I'm over painting it with a light bright green wash. And it's just adding a little bit of texture and color to the leaf shape. 5. Let's Paint Reference Sheet Three: So let's paint Resource Sheet Three or onto leaf number 13. And this leaf is one that we're all familiar with. This is the Ivy Leaf. And this can be particularly useful when you're doing Christmas cards or perhaps Christmas note. Let's, you could even use it to paint a Christmas wreath. So first start off with quite the curvy stem with curly branches coming off in one direction. Then mixer quite deep green, I believe is a quite difficult shapes to paint. I find personally, you may find them pretty easy, but I find them really tricky. So I have to look really hard at some resources to get it right. And of course, actually I believes there's lots of different types of IV, so lots of them are very different. So I've kept this one quite simple. So Paint your dark green first and then drop in some sort of acid, yellow green on top and let it bleed in. And this gives us a feeling of texture on the leaf without us having to describe every minute detail on this leaf, I've decided to try and paint around where the veins of the leaf would pay and leave those white. So I'm just filling in around the veins. And then using different colors of green drop in some paint using the wet in wet technique. You're looking to achieve some nice texture here. Now let's paint a folded shape. But the suggestion is seed heads. Say putting your stems. Take you brush and make some little marks along the end of the stem. This can be a long thin shapes, all round shapes. Belief number 15, we're going to paint a heart-shaped leaf. Painting your stems. And then put two angled lines joined by two curves to make a heart. Now you can set these hearts out however you like. I'm doing mine in pairs. But if you wanted to stagger them, that's fine too. Right? Let me click on this up a little bit. And when you get to the top of H stem, I think it's nice to just finish off with a smaller single heart on its own. So leaf number 16 is what I would call a directional leaf. A leaf that suggests movement or all the lifting in the breeze or in the wind. So what you need for this is to use your whole arm when he make these sweeping curves, that really helps to get the flow. So try to be moving from your shoulder rather than your wrist to make these lovely sweeping curves and make sure that they go over one another and crossover. And then start to add some branches. But remember that these branches made to look like they're moving as well. So they also need to have a curve. It helps before you start painting to decide on a direction that you're am stems adventure, traveling. If you add a darker shade into the base of your stems, it will give your foliage foam and wait. Leaf number 17. Leaf number 17 is really simple. And some mix-up a mint green or any color you choose actually for this one, it doesn't really matter. But what we're going to do is when to use that same Tip, belly tip stroke, but this time just really elongated. So you get these very long strap light leaves. And you could use this if you were painting a meadow or painting grass. And you can go over them with a different shade of the same leaves. And that gives it some nice depth. If you do that. So this is a really simple one, but it's a really useful shape and I use it all the time. So this leaf is going to be a serrated leaf. So first of all, make your generic leaf shape like we did in May F1. And then around the edges, two's place these little marks, these little points to suggest the serration on the edges of the leaf and do one side and then do exactly the same on the other. And I find it helps a little bit if you slightly curved these points in back in towards the leaf. Now of course, it doesn't matter what color you do this leaf. You can choose whatever you like. I'm just gonna make a slightly darker one, I think. And I perhaps going to add a little bit of brown into the mix. And so we go in with our leaf shape that we've done many times before. Nouns, point, belly, pointed the brush, fill in the middle every day. Now making sure you got a nice tip to your brush. Nice point back in and painting these little marks that suggests the serration. And do the same on the other side. And once you dried your first layer, you can go back in with a darker color and paint the veins of the leaf. So for the next leaf, I'm mixing up us bluey purple color and I'm going to add a little bit of red to it to just neutralize that tone a little bit. And then I've painted some branching stems. And now I'm going to add very small point tea leaves staggered along each branch. And as they move along the branch, these leads again to get a little bit smaller. So until leaf number 20, this is our final leaf. So this leaf is going to be a multi stemmed piece of foliage. So make some very fine stems that all connect to the base point. And the stem shouldn't be exactly straight, just gently curved. And what I'm trying to do here is create a sort of wide shrub that's all coming up from the base point. And now add some branches that come off of these stems. And these branches are staggered, not in pairs. But keep your brush marks really fine. Once you've done that, mix up a slightly darker shade and paint a little leaf shape of your choice on the end of each of those branches or stems. Just one single leaf. Keep going until you've covered all the branches. So now you should have three sheets of leaf and foliage resources that you can refer to making any future painting. Put a hole in the top corner and tie them together with string or ribbon. 6. Final Thoughts and a Challenge: I hope you enjoyed creating your own leaf and foliage reference pages. You learn how to paint 20 different leaf shapes. Say you should never be sure to have a few leaf ideas. You can use these to create paintings, patterns, and gifts for your friends. And the challenge. Well, now it's your turn to find five new leaf shapes or foliage styles to add to your resource collection. I would absolutely love to see your work. So don't forget to share it. See you in the next class and happy painting.