Painting Colorful Leaves with Gouache | Sarah Van Der Linden | Skillshare
Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
10 Lessons (53m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Getting to know your gouache

    • 4. Stems and leaves shapes

    • 5. Patterns

    • 6. Drawing the leaves

    • 7. Choosing a color palette

    • 8. Painting the leaves (part1)

    • 9. Painting the leaves (part 2)

    • 10. Project time

12 students are watching this class
  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Hello everyone!

I'm so happy to welcome you in this class about painting colorful leaves with gouache. 

I fell in love with gouache the first time I tried it and I'm hooked since then. This medium is perfect to paint bold bright leaves with a lot of colorful details.

I will walk you through my entire process, step by step, from start to finish. In this fun class, you will learn:

  • how to brainstorm ideas to draw the different parts
    of a leaf
  • how to sketch your leaves
  • how to create a unique color palette
  • we'll also create together a full painting so you will be able to implement all these techniques


At the end of this class, you will be able to replicate the entire process to create your own colorful leaves pattern.

This class is perfect for beginners or anyone who want to learn a simple technique.

You will find here my others classes about gouache :

You will find here my others classes about watercolor :


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sarah Van Der Linden

watercolor artist & nature enthusiast


Hi there, my name is Sarah also known @mirglis on instagram. I’m a watercolor and gouache artist living in the French countryside.


I believe that nature, inspiration and imagination are deeply connected, and for me, creativity is a long road leading to a better observation and understanding of the world. I'm most myself and happier when I'm in a forest or in the middle of nowhere, and that’s why all my inspiration comes from nature. I love painting landscapes with watercolor, playing with water to create textures, and patiently adding one layer after another.


You will find here on Skillshare different classes to learn to paint landscapes with waterc... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Your creative journey starts here.

  • Unlimited access to every class
  • Supportive online creative community
  • Learn offline with Skillshare’s app

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.



1. Intro: Hello everyone, and welcome to this new class about painting colorful leaves with gouache. My name is Sarah and I'm an artist living in the French countryside. I fell in love with gouache the first time I tried painting with it, and I'm hooked since then. This medium is perfect to paint bold bright leaves with a lot of colorful details. In this class, I will walk you through my entire process. I will show you how to brainstorm ideas to draw the different parts of a leaf, how to sketch your pattern, how to create a unicolor pallet, and with them to gather some leaves from start to finish. At the end of this class, you will be able to replicate the entire process to create your own colorful leaves painting. This class is perfect for beginners or anyone who want to run a simple technique with gouache. Your project will be to create your own leaves using the techniques you learned in this class. So let's get started. 2. Supplies: First, let's talk a bit about the supplies you will need for this class. In the first three lessons, we are going to brainstorm ideas and sketch leaves. You will need ordinary paper, white sheets, like this ones, a pencil, and a felt pen. This is a micron. Then for painting, you will need water color paper. I'm using, the same paper that I use for watercolor. What's important is that it's a silk paper because we are going to add a bit of water with a wash. You will also need a pallet to mix your colors, a jar of water, a few brushes of various sizes. I'm using the same brushes that I use for watercolor and we'll need one small and two intermediate sizes. Of course, you will need some paints. White is really important, so you will need a tube of that color. Then we will mostly use three or four colors, any colors. I'm using Windsor and Newton designer brush, but you can use any brand, it does not matter, and it depends of what you have at home. That's it. 3. Getting to know your gouache: If it's the first time you are using brush, I think it would be interesting to try your pen and get acquainted with it before we start painting the leaves. I will add a bit of paint on my palette. First, I wet my brush with my water and then I'm going to try it just like that straight from the tube. If you are used to watercolor, you can see that the paint is much thicker. If you're using the paint straight from the tube without adding any water, it can be too thick and creates some texture on your paper. As you can see here, just under my brush. But if you add a bit of water to the color, it will be fleeter and smoother. I suggest that you practice painting lines and see what happens when you add a bit of water to your paint. The picture should be a bit creamy. You can also try to paint some curve line in the shape of a leaf and fill it with the paint. You can notice that I'm dipping my brush in water almost every time before I want to charge it again this paint. But don't dilute your paint too much, otherwise, you will have a texture that is closer to watercolor than to gouache. For now, I'm using my biggest brush and you can see that it allows me to bend thick curves like these ones and don't forget to clean your brush as soon as you finished using it. Now, I will use my medium size. I'm adding also a tiny bit of water and I'm going to practice painting lines with it just as we did with the other brush. If I use the tip of my brush, I'm able to draw fine lines. But if I press other, I will be able to bend a thicker line. Let me show you another thin line. This time, I'm bending just with the tip of my brush and you can now see the differences between the two. By using only one brush, you're able to fill big areas and also bend tiny details. Finally, let's try the small brush. First, I'm just adding a tiny bit of water. I am bending small lines first and they are finer than the ones I painted before. Now, if I press a little bit more, this brush is more for painting small details. Don't use it to paint it bigger areas like this one because it will take forever to paint. I suggest that you start practicing, try a few brushes and see what you can do with them. You can vary the pressure and get acquainted with the texture of brush. I will see you in the next lesson. 4. Stems and leaves shapes: In this lesson, I will show you our brainstorm ideas to draw leaves and you will see that there are infinite possibilities. Let's start by drawing some stems. It can be as simple curve line like this, a small line or you can do exactly the same but way bigger. Or you can draw a stem that is divided in two lines or you can draw a stem that has three branches or four or five. You can see that all my curves, I'm pointing to the outside. Now, I can do the exact opposite and draw curves that are pointing towards the inside. I can draw two lines or I can do the same thing but with three branches four or five as you wish. You can also draw tiny stems that are growing from the main one. First usual line and then you add some V shapes and after you will be able to add a leaf that starts from that point. We can do exactly the same thing, except that this time the tiny stems are not in front of each other. If I follow this idea, I can draw the main stem and then add too many stems and afterwards, you will add your leaves here. We can twist a bit this idea like earlier by first drawing the main stem and then I'm adding two tiny stems but not in front of each other. You can also add a bit more movement to your stem. You can see that here it's a simple round shape, but you can also add a bit more curves. You can see that here the tiny stems are really small but I can do the same thing but way bigger like this. You can create different stems by just changing the size, small or big, the curve and the number of stems. The possibilities really are infinite. Now that we know how to draw some stems we are going to brainstorm ideas to draw some leaves. Even a fairly basic shape can offer a range of possibilities if you change it a bit. Let me show you what I mean. Let me draw a very simple leaf like this. I can also change its width. You can see that this is the same shape but just wider. Now, we can do the exact opposite and draw something really narrow. To change the shape a bit more, I can also add a curve like this and I can do the same thing but with the curves on the other side. Now, let's try this process but with another shape. Let's try a leaf that is sharp at the top but rounded at the bottom. Now, I will follow the same steps, wider, narrower and curved. Let's start with wider. Now. I will draw it narrower. Now, let's try to curve the shape, let's say like this and now in the opposite direction like this. Now you can apply this process to every leaf shape that you can think of. Let me show you another one. This time let's draw a leaf that is rounded at the top and sharp at the bottom, and now I draw a curve. Now, if I draw it wider like this, I can also draw a shape more narrow or I can also add a curve. Let's draw a last one together. Maybe a leaves that has the shape of a heart like this and I'm going to do the same thing as before, wider, narrower and curved. You can see that my leaf is really wide at the bottom and still sharp at the top. Now, I'm going to do the exact opposite and we can do something more curved to finish. That's it. You can apply this process to a lot more leaf shapes. Just play and use your imagination. It will add a lot of interests to your drawings. 5. Patterns: Now that we know how to draw a stem and a leaf shape, we are going to brainstorm ideas to draw inside of the leaves. I created these templates with the basic leaf shape and you will be able to find it in the project section of the class. Let's start by drawing some veins. I start by drawing a line in the middle, and then I'm adding the veins on each side of this line. We can do the same thing except this time the veins will be smaller. I draw first my main line, and then I'm adding shorter veins. I can also fill all my leaf with long lines like this. But I can also decide to fill just one side of my leaf. Let's say that I cut it in half and I'm just drawing lines on the left side. I can also do the same thing, but this time draw lines only at the bottom, and I can also draw lines at the bottom like this and draw a few at the top also. Another thing I can do is try adding dots. Let's say that instead of drawing an unbroken line, I will use some dots. I can also choose to fill all my leaf or just a part of my leaf with dots. You can also combine small dots and bigger ones, like this. Now we can try to add a dot at the end of the line to combine both of these ideas. Let's say I start in the middle and I draw curve line and then I add a dot just on the [inaudible]. Now we can try some thing that are more of an oval shape than a round shape. It's like drawing veins but instead of choosing lines you are using ovals. It makes me think of a leaf inside the leaf. We can also try something totally different because when we will use our pens, we are going to use different colors, so why not try painting exactly the same leaf shape inside. You can do it also multiple times. Now, I can also combine this idea and this idea. I can draw my shape and then add some tiny veins on the outside. Again, do the exact opposite with the veins on the inside. I can also draw another tiny leaf inside the big one. So starting with a long stem, then I'm just adding the shape of a leaf. But I can also draw two tiny leaves or even three leaves. We can also draw a grid, something like this. As we did earlier, we can also draw on only one side of the leaf, so I'm starting with my main line to split the leaf in half, and then I draw some horizontal lines. I can allege that whitespace in the middle. I will follow this idea and this time only drew alpha leaf like this. I'm pretty sure that you now know that your possibilities are infinite. This template is great to play with ideas and each time you think of something new, you can then add it to this paper. Let's finish this three. Maybe this time we can draw a shape a bit more rounded, something like this. When we will be painting, we are going to use one color here, another here, another here, etc. We can also reuse this idea but this time draw stem at the bottom. We can also draw a longer stem, and this time I'm adding a few more tiny leaves, like we did here. I think that now we have a lot of ideas for our final painting. 6. Drawing the leaves: Now we are going to take a watercolor paper and start sketching for the final painting. Let me find a blank page, and with a pencil, I will start by drawing the stem. I'm going to draw this one. I'm drawing three fine lines and don't press too hard on your pencil, otherwise it will show under the wash. I'm going to add a few shorter stems. Now that I drew my stem, I'm going to choose the shape of a leaf. Let's say a very basic one like this one, and I will not draw each leaf exactly the same way. I'm going to combine some of the different possibilities we tried earlier. You can also combine big and small leaves. I like to start at the top and first I'm drawing my three main leaves. Now I'm going to draw all the other ones at the bottom. My goal will be to fill the space, and that's why I will be using multiple sizes. Let's say a leaf here and then a bigger one over there. Because I want to feel all that space here, and this one here will be way shorter. Actually, I will add another big leaf here. Now, I will be filling the other side. Again I start at the top and then I'm going to add a wider leaf over there. Now a little bit more narrow on the side, and since I can see that there is some space left, I will add two other tiny leaves. Just as I did earlier, I'm going to add a big leaf on the side to finish. We are not going to draw some patterns inside the leaves because we have to paint our first layer first. In the next lesson, we are going to start playing with colors. 7. Choosing a color palette: Now, let's talk a bit about how to choose a color palette. There is no secret recipe, and I think the key is in experimenting and trying different colors to see which ones work the most. I suggest that you chose three or four colors top. Let's say I will choose a tacos blue, a green, an okra, and why not a pale green? Just take four colors and some white. I will add a bit of each color on my palette. So this is my tacos blue, my okra, a bit of dark green, and then we'll also add a bit of this linden green, and I will add some white. Now that I have my four colors, I'm just going to try them and put them on my paper. I'm dipping my brush into the water first and I'm starting with my linden green. My goal is to see how the color looks when it's pure, straight from the tube. Now, I will try my blue and this is one of my favorite shade of blue. Now, let's try the okra and the green. Now, that they are all on the page, I am observing them to see which combination I prefer. For instance, I like the blue and the okra together and I also like the pale green and the turquoise. But I think that all these colors are really strong and they kind of cancel each other. What I will do is use one color pure, the other with a bit of white and the third one with a lot of white if you choose to only use three colors. This way, you will have a whole range of values. One dark color, one medium one and one light one. Let's say I will keep this blue pure. I will add a bit of white in this one and a lot of white in the green. I will finally not choose the linden green because I think three colors are enough. My blue will remain the same. I will add a bit of white in my okra and this will be my medium tone. The white is going to soften the color a bit. It's a bit lighter than before and I think it looks great with the blue. Finally, I will add a lot of white in my green to have a very light color. You have to keep in mind that your colors will be darker when they will be dry. If you want a pale tone, you need to add a lot of white. Now I have my color palettes and I think that my colors work better together than before. Now, I want to show you another exercise that you can do to try your colors. When we will be painting our leaves, we are going to lay out the colors on top of each other. It can be nice to try them and to see how they work together before starting the final painting. I'm going to paint six leaves, two of each color and I'm just going to fill my shape with my color. This is my pale green first. I'm going to paint another one. Now, I will paint two leaves with my okra, and finally two leaves with my blue. Now, we will wait for the leaves to dry and then we'll add another layer. Now that it's dry, we are going to add the other colors. Some blue and some okra here, some blue and some green here, and some green and some okra on this one. This time, I will use my small brush. First, I will take my blue and I will paint a pattern like we did in our earlier video to see how it looks. I will draw some lines on my green, then I will try my okra, and this time I will paint some veins. Now on this one, I will try my green first and it depends. When your palette starts to dry, you can add a bit more water. I will just paint some dots. The green really pops. Then I will take my blue and this time I am drawing a round shape. Finally, let's add a layer on the blue. I will add my light green first. This time, I'm painting some lines ending with a dot and to finish, my okra. I can already see that some colors work better together than others, and that's it. This exercise is interesting because it allows you to see the colors together. In my opinion, the blue looks better when it's underneath and I really like when the okra is on top of it. I also like the green and the occurred together. Now you can decide which color or colors you want to use for the first layer and which ones you will add after that for the details. 8. Painting the leaves (part1): We drew our leaves, we chose a color palette. Now we are going to start our final painting. We are going to use these three colors for painting the background. I think, I'm going to use this dark blue and absorb, this light green, and I will keep the ocher for adding details. But feel free to use the colors as you want. The first thing I'm going to do is to paint the inside of all the leaves. I will use a brush that is not too small and I'm adding a bit of water to my blue paint. If your right handed like me, I suggest that you start painting first the leaves that are on the top left corner, and then the ones that are on the right. I'm starting by painting the outline. Then I'm going to fill the leaf. If your paint is too thick, you can add a bit more water. This part can be a bit tedious because it just about painting and filling all the leaves, but it will be more fun just after the spots. So now I'm using my light green two paint another leaf, like before I start by painting the outline. Then I am feeding all the leaf. I'm going to speed up the video, but you will be able to see the entire process. Okay, so now I'm going to wait a bit just to make sure that all my leaves are dry. So now we are going to paint all the stems. This time I'm using a smaller brush and my dark blue. Do not hesitate to rotate your paper to feel more comfortable. This time, I'm starting at the bottom left corner. I will paint all the stems line-by-line. Just take your time for this step. Now I'm going to wait a few minutes to make sure that all my stems are dry. Now that all my background is dry, I will use an eraser and erase all the pencil marks. I will use this sheet that we did earlier to find some pattern. So I'm going to start with this one, and it will allow me to add a bit more color. I will use my bigger brush again. This time I'm using the ocher. I will do this just on a few leaves. Starting with this one. You paint needs to be thick and opaque to cover the blue. So do not add too much water. I'm repeating the same movement as earlier. I'm starting by drawing the outline and then I'm filling the shape. I will not paint all my leaves like that just a few, maybe three or four. Now I will let this layer dry. Now I will do exactly the same thing that we did here. But on the green leaves, on this two. This time I will use my blue to create some contrasts. Again, I'm starting by painting the outline and then I will fill the shape. That's it. 9. Painting the leaves (part 2): This is the last step. We're going to add a few of these patterns to our leaves. I suggest that you choose between the drawings that we did earlier, three or four possibilities. We are not going to use all of them because it will be too much, just a few is enough. This time, I'm going to use a fine brush. I'm starting again at the top left corner. In this one, I will draw some veins with my dark blue. I'm painting a line first, and then I'm adding the veins. You can see that it adds some contrasts to this leaf. Now, I'm going to paint another one, and this time I will use some ocher, and I will paint some dots. Now, for this big one, let's say we can paint something like this. I'm using my ocher again because I like the combination with the blue, I think the two colors are pretty well together. The background is not dry enough; I think I wanted to go too fast. I'm using a paper towel to put my end on it. I will decorate the remaining leaves. I'm sorry that you can't see it well on the video, because in order to be precise, I've got to hold my brush close from the tip, and I will speed up the video again. That's it, this painting is fully finished. You can see that it's all about layering and adding the terrace on top of each other. 10. Project time: I hope you now feel ready to paint your own colorful pattern. Your project will need to create a painting with leaves using the techniques you learned in this class. You can experiment with different shapes, themes, and pattern, create color pallets and add as many details as you want. Feel free to upload your project in the project section of this class and your progress. I can't wait to see what you will create. If you want to see any of my future classes, click the Follow button below this video. You can also check my previous classes about creating leaf pattern with ink and painting landscape with watercolor. I will see you soon.