Realistic Autumn Leaves in Watercolors - Step by Step | Trupti Karjinni | Skillshare

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Realistic Autumn Leaves in Watercolors - Step by Step

teacher avatar Trupti Karjinni, Artist, Paintmaker, Entrepreneur

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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

11 Lessons (45m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Sketching the leaves

    • 4. Painting oak and sugar maple leaves

    • 5. Painting beech and elder leaves

    • 6. Painting acorn and gingko leaf

    • 7. Leaf details - veins

    • 8. Leaf details - decayed spots

    • 9. Understanding light and shadow

    • 10. Adding the shadows

    • 11. Final thoughts

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About This Class

Tap into the autumn vibe with me - let's paint a spread of autumn leaves together! We'll learn how to paint  3D leaves in an easy step-by-step process. Before you know it, you'll have an impressive spread of realistic-looking leaves on your paper! I've broken it all down into simple, approachable process for beginners in watercolors, yet there are techniques for the experienced artist too!

I'm teaching essential watercolor techniques in this class like wet-in-wet, variegated wash and blending technique which you can apply in any other watercolor painting! Are you ready? Let's dive in!

If you like this class, please leave a review that will help this class reach more students.

If you'd like to purchase my Blue Pine Arts handmade watercolors, you can find us on Etsy and Instagram as "BluePineArts".



Class music credits- Lights by Sappheiros @sappheirosmusic
Music provided by Free Music for Vlogs

Meet Your Teacher

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Trupti Karjinni

Artist, Paintmaker, Entrepreneur

Top Teacher


Hey there! I'm Trupti Karjinni, an artist and creative entrepreneur based in India. I wear the hats of a Painter, Paintmaker and Educator.

I am the creator of Thrive With Trupti, a reimagined online membership where I teach watercolor enthusiasts like you the skills and mindset you need to create confidently.

I'm also the Founder of Blue Pine Arts where we make our world-renowned handmade watercolors, sketchbooks and other art supplies.

I live in the idyllic town of Belgaum with my husband, Nahush and my cat master, Satsuki.

Although I work with many mediums, ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi everybody, I'm Trupti Karjinni from [inaudible] and welcome to my second Skillshare class. I'm a watercolor artist and designer based in Belgaum and I'm also the founder of Blue Pine Arts, a company that makes hand-made artisan watercolors and other art supplies. This here is Satsuki, my constant cat companion, and she wants to learn the ways. All right, so in today's class we are going to tap into the beautiful autumn vibe, and we're going paint realistic looking 3D autumn leaves. We're going to do all of that using the Blue Pine Arts handmade watercolors. So at the end of the class you have a bunch of beautiful autumn leaves on your paper. All right, so let's jump into the next segment where we are going to talk about the art supplies that we're going to use in today's class. 2. Supplies: In this video, we're going to talk about all the supplies that I've used in today's class. Now don't worry, you don't have to have the exact same supplies that I have. You use whatever you have that is similar. Today I'm going to use three brushes in the class. The first one is my silver black velvet round number eight brush. I'm going to use this to lay down washes of clear water and to make the shadows. The second brush is the Princeton heritage size six. It's a beautiful synthetic stable, hair brush, which I'm going to use to paint all the leaves. Lastly, I'm going to use the Princeton heritage size two brush, which is a beautiful brush for detailing because it comes to a lovely point and I'm going to use that to draw the details on the leaves like the winds and the delicate spots. I'm going to be using an art discrete paper called Saunders Waterford, which is a 100% cotton, cold press and 300 GSM. But even if you're using student grade paper, I'd recommend you use at least 300 GSM and it should be cold press. 300 GSM because it's the right thickness of the paper, which will take the multiple layers of Britain Rick washes really well. Cold press because the texture of the paper is ideal for the blending technique and for the white and red brushes that we're going to be using today. As for the paints, I'm going to be using my own brand of BluePineArts handmade watercolors. This here is an autumn palette that I've curated, which includes colors like CIE, Prussian blue, tunal venetian red, dominic yellow ocher, Ms. burnt sienna, butterfly b ultra marine, starinisr coupled modern, nutmeg raw sienna, and dark love hematite. These are just the perfect autumn colors for painting our realistic autumn leaves. I really love how these colors compliment together and just give lovely [inaudible] All these colors are discrete and each band of vein is just packed with pigment and does not contain any fillers or other impurities. We just mix these colors very rich and vibrant and such a pleasure to use. I use a regular white ceramic dinner plate as my palette because a ceramics of surfaces do not stain, so I can use this as many times as I want, and also watercolors do not beat up on this palette. It's very easy to see what colors I'm portraying on the surface. I always use two glass jars of water when I paint with watercolors, one of them is to wash all the paints from the brush, and the other one is to just pick up load of clear water on my jar, but I need to blend my colors. Now that we've seen all the supplies, are you pumped up and excited for the class? Let's get started. [MUSIC] 3. Sketching the leaves: Before we begin, I just wanted to show you the leaves that we're going to be painting today. This is my blue pinouts watercolor journal. I really love it because it helps me record all of my thoughts, and ideas, and different experiments. Here we have our autumn leaves, and this is what we are going for today. We will paint a few leaves, and then to make them look realistic, we will add details like decayed spots, and then we will add a few shadows to the leaves to make them look more realistic. Here's another example. I have a few pictures here to act as inspiration for us today, to help us sketch our autumn leaves, or to get the colors. But if you live in a part of world where you are lucky enough to experience autumn, I encourage you to go out on a walk, grab a few different kinds of fall foliage and then bring them back and sketch them. They're great source of inspiration. But since we don't get autumn here in India, and I don't have autumn leaves at my hand, I'm going to use this pictures to help me sketch some of the leaves. To sketch your autumn leaves, I have a simple mechanical pencil and a simple eraser. I'm going to use my pictures to help me understand the shapes of the leaves. I'm going to fill up this entire page with different kinds of fall foliage. First, I'm going to draw this oak leaf. To help me guide my sketch, I'm going to draw the center ring of the leaf. Let's go ahead and do that. I'm not looking to copy the exact shape, I just want to get a general sense of how the leaf looks like, and then I'm just going to continue sketching it. There's no need to feel that you have to get your sketch look perfect. Just remember that you need to sketch very lightly, because watercolors are transparent and you don't want a dark border of the leaf. Unless, of course, that's what you want in your outlook. Now, I want to bring this beautiful red sugar maple leaf over here on this side. Let's go here and draw this thing. I'm just going to place the center point of the leaf over here, to help me guide the sketch. I'm just going to sketch around it. The beauty of these leaves is that every leaf has imperfection, and as I always say that it's the imperfection of things in nature that make them look natural. Even if your leaves are wonky, that's completely okay because that's how they are in real life too. There we go. Just a very simple sketch of the sugar maple. I do want to bring in some of these leaves. I'm just going to draw this, maybe this simple leaf over here. Just make sure that you are varying the directions of the leaves to make the composition look interesting. That's the third leaf. Now, let's bring in this elder leaf over here in this corner. I'm just going to draw the center stem of the leaf and then just, see that. I'm not really concerned about making my leaves look perfect. Maybe just one leaf over here. There is that. Let's go ahead and just draw an acorn over here in the center. And we have a few acorns over here. I'm just going to use that as a reference and sketch it out, because we have some nice space over here and we're going to just draw an acorn. Let's draw the cap. Is that what they're call it? I don't know. I've never seen acorns in real life. That's the tip of it, and this is a cute little acorn. I really love ginkgo leaves. They are some of my favorite. Let's go ahead and draw this dainty ginkgo leaf. You see how I am really not worried about having the perfect sketch. All I'm going to do is just study the leaves and quickly sketch them out. Smooth. Ruffled, something cool leaf. All right. Now we're done sketching, and we have a nice composition of some beautiful autumn elements. We have five different kinds of leaves. We have an acorn. In the next section, we're going to come back in and start painting these leaves with the wet and wet technique. 4. Painting oak and sugar maple leaves: I'm going to use two brushes.The first one is my silver black velvet round number 8 brush, and this I'm going to use to just lay clear water on the leaves, and then I'm going to use my Princeton round number 6, a heritage brush to put in the color. We're going to punch in the color entities with this brush. Let's get started. This is really easy and a lot of people get freed by the wet in wet technique, but don't worry, we'll see how easy it is. I just picked up a load of clear water on my brush and I'm laying it in my leaves. I'm just going to stick inside the borders and I'm going to spread the water everywhere. Make sure that you are not putting a ton of water underneath, you don't want it slop in bed. I'm going come in with my round number 6 brush. I'm going to load in some of the [inaudible] red. I'm going spread this beautiful dread color. You can see how the color is spreading, and because I put in a dark value over there, I'm just going to take some clear water and spread this around just to get some nice radiation on the leaves. Now, I'm going to take my second color, which is my turmeric yellow ocher, and I'm going to drop it in some other boxes didn't leaf, and because of this wet and wet technique, we're going to get beautiful blend of this yellow ocher and this generic color. I'm going to [inaudible] the colors into each other, and we're going to ask them to be friends with each other. There you go. See how, because of this beautiful retina technique, our colors and mixing together so well. I'm making sure to use a darker value of the red in some places and use a lighter value in some places, you go back in and add some definition to the leaves. Now that the colors have mixed together so well because of the wedding bed, we're not going to touch it, we just let them mingle with each other. I've picked up my dark love hematite, just trading, I'm just touching it at the base of the leaves and then just bring it down and join the stem. This is the same technique that we're going to use the rest of the leaves. Let's paint this oak leaf over here. Now I want my oak leaf to have a little bit of green, so, I'm going to mix in my Prussian blue, turmeric yellow ocher, and we're going to get a nice, beautiful green. There we go. We have a nice sappy Masi green here. We're going to use that for the leaf. For my oak leaf, we're going to follow the same process, the we're going to lead on some water. Let's lay down our loss [inaudible] in first. We're not worried about where we're going to put the color, is it going to be perfect or no, just going to punch some color in, into this leaf. See that. Some areas of the leaf will have a darker value, some will have a lighter value, and then you're going to bring in that green and punch it in different places. You see that? Now there's too much water on my brush, so, I'm just going to take my brush, dab it on my [inaudible] , and just pick up some of that color and just spread it around. We have a beautiful related to leaf. If we want to change the shape of the leaf, I'm just going to go around, add a few definitions to the leaf. I'm also going to drop in a little bit of this Miss Bern [inaudible] , and give a leaf just that extra function. You can join it over there. That's a second, let's move on to this one over here in the next segment. 5. Painting beech and elder leaves: We're going to use the same techniques as before so I begin to wash clear water into the contour of this leaf. Then I'm going to come in to the dash load of that maze burnt sienna and startling the color down. Again, this is wet-on-wet technique and observe how I'm using the tips of my brush to give that serrated edge to this leaf. Then I'm going to drop in off to that turmeric yellow ochre, letting the colors blend in with each other. Then why not bring in that dark cloud hematite, which is such a beautiful dark brown fall color into this leaf. We're going to do the same thing. We're going to let the colors blend with each other. Then we're going to finish it off by adding a little stem to the leaf. Now, this next branch is a beautiful throne of elder leaves. For this technique, we're going to use a variegated wash technique, which means that I'm going to pick up this beautiful sienna red. Instead of doing the wet-on-wet technique, I'm going to start out by doing the wet on dry technique, which means I'm gong to lay down this red paint on dry paper, like so. Then I'm going to pick up some of the dark love hematite. I'm going to lead right next to the red, making it Dutch wet red paint. What happens when you do that is that the two different paints meet each other and then the red and red action happens. We're going to use the same technique for the rest of the leaves too. In the second leaf, if I'm using a lighter value of the sienna red. I'm going to repeat the same procedure for the next bunch of leaves. I used different values for different leaves. It just makes it look so natural. If you want to learn more about values and the importance of values and how to use them. I encouraged you to hop onto my first culture class, which is the Misty Pines in Monochrome class. That'll teach you how to use values successfully in your paintings. I'm using the tip of my brush to just give some definition to my leaves. I love how this dark love hematite just really all the colors in this blue finite just the way it blend together so beautiful. There's no right or wrong way of laying down color. Just call it a gut feeling. Do it like over here because there's really no wrong way of doing it. No matter how you lead the colors down, no matter what colors you choose, your leaves are going to look really beautiful. Now, let's bring in some of that mist burnt sienna and paint the stem. That's going to join all of these leaves together. That's it. In the next segment, we are going to paint the acorn and the ginkgo leaf. 6. Painting acorn and gingko leaf: For the gingko leaf, we're going to use the seemed really good at wash technique as before. I'm coming in with my star in these coupled model, and I'm painting the brushstrokes in the direction of the gingko leaf. Now, I'm going to bring in my turmeric yellow ocher, let the colors blend in with each other, and then maybe even mix in some of that Prussian blue with the yellow ocher and bring in some of that cream. We're just going to finish the leaf off and bring down the stem using the yellow ocher. Then I'm going to go back in with some coupled model again and then add a little definition to the leaf to accentuate the ruffles that you see on ginkgo leaves. Now, for the econ cap, that's what I call it. I'm spreading in the little bit of green mixed with the butterfly ultramarine, and draw a sienna. Again, I'm using some raw sienna beside that green to get a nice color for the econ cab, I'm going to spread that around. To give the ruffled a heavy texture that econ caps have, I'm coming in with some dark club hematite, and using the very tip of my brush, I am flicking trash in some tiny dancy movements to show the truffle texture of the econ cap. As for the econ, I'm going to mix in some of the dark leaf hematite and [inaudible] coupled model. I'm going to slowly paint it and observe how while I'm painting this, I'm going to leave a little bit of the white of the paper untouched. There we go, to show the glint of the shiny surface of the econ. Then I'm going to get some more water on my brush and spread this mixture around just to get some lights and shadows on the econ, give it a little bit more interests instead of just painting it flat with just one color. Until we're just going to finish the econ off. Let's not forget the tiny stem at the top using the same brown color. I'm observing that my maple leaf is a little duller than I wanted it to look like, so I'm just going to go back in with a second layer of the same colors as we did in the first video. I'm doing the same thing. I'm just laying down some clear water in it. I also see that some of the edges are looking a little [inaudible] , it's not looking clean and defined as I wanted to look. So I've laid down clear water all over the leaf. I'm just going to drop in a darker value of the turmeric yellow ocher, in the same places as I did before. Then I'm going to bring in some of the darker value of the tuner red, which is venetian red, and while we're adding those, we're going to use a tip of a brush to just give this leaf a beautiful cleaner edge, if you will. I did bring in a little bit of the coupled model to darken some of the areas of this leaf. That's cool. Now that you have you finished the first layer of paint on these leaves, we will jump to the next segment where we will come back in, and we'll paint details on these leaves like the winds, and the decayed spots, and stuff like that. I'll see you in the next segment. 7. Leaf details - veins: To make our leaves look more realistic, we need to add some details in them, like the wings of the leaves, and also the good spots on the autumn leaves. I've got my oak leaf over here, and I can see that the wind starts from the bottom, reaches at the top, and then branches out to these rounded edges. To paint the details, I'm using my Princeton Brown number two brush. It comes to a very beautiful point. It's great. It's really great for detailing. Using the very tip of my brush, I'm going to draw these winds of the leaves. I'm going to put the picture here for reference. Try to get natural looking curves to your winds, and they'll make your leaves look more realistic. So I'm just going to use my dark club hematite. It's a beautiful dark color. When you are adding details, make sure that you don't have a lot of paint and water on your brush, because you want more control. Just one sweeping movement, I'm just going to draw the center wind to these leaves. The way you draw these center winds will give an idea to how your leaf structured. So if I draw this on top over here, the leaf is going to look different, but if I draw the wind at the bottom and go to where the leaf is tipping, it's going to end up looking more natural. There are not many details on the ginkgo leaf, let me show you. It got many winds but there are few defining lines over here, and a few details of the edges and that's what I'm going to draw for the ginkgo. So I'm going get some [inaudible]. Just draw these sweeping lines and then give you a little bit of definition. To make my leaf look a little bit more realistic, I'm going to just bring in that dark club hematite. It'll be at the very edges, this leaf is a little bit more detailed. So adding this little defining elements that makes your leaf a little bit more realistic. We're done with that, and then let's add the defining winds to this one. Let's look at our inspiration picture and we can see that the wind for the sugar maple start over here, and then go to each of these tips. So let's do that. Wonderful how when you paint these leaves, you start understanding the true beauty of them. You start noticing the beautiful features. That's what I love about painting things in the nature, because you otherwise wouldn't notice all these beautiful things. These beautiful characteristics, these beautiful personalities of things in nature. We have one last thing to add details and that is this acorn. If you notice on our inspiration picture, it has little shadows that show that the acorn cap is shadowy and bristly, and that's what we're going to do to add. To bring out the definition. We're going to add a few shadow elements. Using the tip off my brush, I'm just going to make it dense in different directions. See how I'm trying to not be perfect in this. I'm not doing a lot of effort, I'm just dropping the shadows. The texture for acorn cap is done. It's really as simple as that, you guys. All a matter of simplifying everything that you see. Now, in the next segment, we're going to come back and add a few more defining elements, like decayed spots on our leaves. 8. Leaf details - decayed spots: Autumn leaves have dark decayed spots on them. Let's get a dark color of hematite. Then using the very tip of my brush, I am going to go back in and just draw random decayed spots on the leaf to give it a little bit more characteristic, to make it look more realistic. Do you see that? It's these little spots of decay that will make your leaves pop. That's enough, I think, on these leaf because I really don't want to overdo it. Now, I'm going to grab my burnt sienna because this leaf has orange spots that have dried, so I'm just going to use the same color to mark decayed spots. Do you see how the plain-looking leaf, suddenly looks more natural than print used spots. Hematite again, I really love this [inaudible] and there you have it. You see how by adding little details like use these spots, the width on the leaves, the texture, and the [inaudible]. Little details on the ginkgo leaves. We have made these leaves come alive on our paper, may jump onto the next segment where we will add the shadows to these leaves and that is really going to make them pop out. 9. Understanding light and shadow: Adding shadows is an important element if you want to make your leaves look realistic and to make them seem 3D, you go for shadows. To get the right shadow, I am going to imagine that there is a light source coming from this corner of the paper. Which means that if I have a light source over here, the shadow is going to fall on this area. Let me demonstrate that to you. If my light source is coming from here, then my shadows are going to fall in this direction like this. I'm leaving the source of light on this side and then you can see how my shadows are falling in this direction. That is going to make my flower pop out of the paper and make it look 3D. That's what we're going to do with our autumn leaves. 10. Adding the shadows: Now that we've got an idea of how light and shadows work with 3D object. We're going to do the same thing for leaves. I'm going to use my silver black velvet round number eight trash to add the shadows. We're going to add the shadows wet in wet. We're not going to have the shadows look sharp and defined. But I shadows are going to be just soft and giving a hint, offer definition to our leave. What I'm going to do is first of all, I'm going to mix the right shadow color. To do that, I'm going to make this famous shadow mixture called Gene Screen, which is ultramarine blue. Frontier enough. I loved that autumn palette is able to mix this really famous color. It just takes a few tries to get the dark, bright green color red. There we have it, we have the gray color. What I'm going to do is grab some clean water and imagine that the light is falling and distraction, which means my shadow is going to be all around this area of the leaf. I'm going to just go around the leave and very lightly lay down some of these clear water and spread it a little bit. Just a little bit here. Now that we have got a little bit of clear water spread around, I'm going to take up this gray. Then I'm going to drop it under the leaf. That would be just a little bit on this corner here. Then we're going to dropping the stem over issues. This is what is going to make our leave look really realistic. I'm going to blend that a little bit. Make this look a little bit more defined. If you want to learn how to do this blending technique, make sure you take my sculpture class mystifying to monochrome and I show you how to blend colors into papers. Now let's add the shadow to this leaf. I'm going to make my mixtures genes gray again. Let me add down a little bit water over here all the while imagining a light source coming from this direction. My shadow would be gentlemen distraction. Covering the entire right side of this leaves with clear water. Please make sure that you have a baby towel or clothe napkin to absorb any excess pigment that you get rid from, we've a nice gray color. I'm going to dab the excess detail from a distributor and I'm going to go about around this and add my shadows. I like how adding the shadow just makes the leaf look really nice and realistic. We're using a wet-in-wet technique because it's going to give us nice and soft edges. Now let's do the same thing for the equal. We'll continue adding shadows to the leaves. Now, make sure that you don't have a ton of water on your paper when you're adding the shadows because you don't the paint to just move across, shoot across the paper and make you shadows look unrealistic. It's all about controlling the readymade method. It's by doing these exercises, I'm lessons that you're really going to get the hang of it. Small, what I'm going to do is I'm going to add the shadow. Beautiful and realistic it looks, it's because of the soft edges. Because of the already made work that we're getting this effect with the soft shadows. Meaning is to add the shadow to this leaf from, I'm lightly laying down this load of clear water down the leaf. This one is a little bit tricky because we have a compound shape and that we have multiple leaves. We have a stem to show in the shadow. But don't worry. We're going to get that done very easily. We're going to paint the shadow of the leaves first and then add the stem later. Beside this main stem, we're going to draw the shadow of the stem. You can see how because we added shadows it's looking 3D. 11. Final thoughts: I hope you had as much fun as I did painting these autumn leaves. I hope you've gained confidence in the wet in wet technique, the variegated wash technique, and the blending techniques in watercolors. I honestly cannot wait to see all the beautiful autumn leaves you're going to create. Go ahead and upload them in the project section. I'd love to check them out. Thank you so much for taking this class. If you have other ideas on topics that you want me to teach, go ahead and contact me on Instagram or on my email. Thank you, and have a great time painting with watercolors.