Tropical Leaf Quest: Learn to Draw and Watercolor a Begonia Leaf | Alexandra Uro | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Tropical Leaf Quest: Learn to Draw and Watercolor a Begonia Leaf

teacher avatar Alexandra Uro, Tropical Leaf Quest Guide

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

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 (49m)
    • 1. Introduction, Class Overview & Project

    • 2. Supplies for the Class

    • 3. Review of Watercolor Basic Techniques

    • 4. Meet the Begonia

    • 5. Finding the Best Colors: Green Palette

    • 6. Finding the Best Colors: Coppery Red Palette

    • 7. Drawing the Begonia

    • 8. Paint the Begonia: Front First

    • 9. Paint the Begonia: Now the Back

    • 10. Paint the Begonia: Details

    • 11. Final Thoughts

  • --
  • 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

Welcome to another Tropical Leaf Quest, now with the Begonia leaf.


     Looking for a topic on which to start my watercolor journey I found botanicals, specifically tropical leaves. It started with the Monstera Deliciosa and looking to challenge myself further, I discovered the Begonia Maculata.

I was sure that the beauty of a leaf that grows to have holes could not be surpassed until I stumbled upon a leaf with silvery-white polka dots, and, exploring the leaf´s family a bit more, found a variety that not only has the white polka dots, but a rose colored reverse: the Cracklin Rosie Begonia.

      I knew I was on the right track practicing my watercolor skills with botanicals.

Now I´m sharing this journey with you. Learn watercolor techniques as you discover beautiful tropical leaves and start building or keep adding to your botanical art portfolio.

I´ve designed the class with detailed process videos for beginners to start building confidence in their skills as well as for more seasoned watercolorists offering the joy of focusing on the details of one specific leaf, so that not only will you practice your watercolor skills but also get to know your subject.

If you are here, then you already have the most important tool: curiosity!

A friendly recommendation, something I discovered as a Skillshare student myself: Oftentimes, we enjoy and get better results from a class by watching the lesson first and then replaying and painting along, it helps both in letting you see where the lesson will take you and to organize your space and supplies so that nothing interrupts your art session as you watch again and paint along.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Alexandra Uro

Tropical Leaf Quest Guide


Hola, I'm Alexandra

I'm an architect by profession, an artist by devotion, and a mom learning tech!

I spend my days painting and creating surface pattern designs. I've recently started doing digital collage as a segue from digitizing my art to create my patterns. And now, I've added teaching online to my resume!

I was born in Mexicali, a city in the northern part of Mexico.

Although I love most mediums, I paint mostly in watercolor. I  create elements to rework into digital patterns for many print on demand products and my yearly scarf collection.

I believe that practice makes better and recently had the opportunity to prove it in a collaboration project with a local architecture studio where I created their brand´s f... 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.

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. Introduction, Class Overview & Project: Hi everyone. Welcome to my studio, or as I like to call it, my art cave. It's quiet and secluded. And it's where I connect to my inner creative voice and follow my curiosity. Which is how I came to train watercolors. Looking for a topic on which to start the journey into the new medium. I've found botanicals, specifically tropical leaves. It started with the very challenging one state or the lease, Yasser. And looking to challenge myself further, I discovered the big Anya macula. I thought a leaf that grows to have holes cannot be surpassed until I stumbled upon a leaf with white polka dots and exploring a bit more, finding a variation with a row, reverse, the crackling Rosie begonias. I knew then in there two things that botanicals were a wonderful way to start exploring watercolors. And that Mother Nature is the true artist. Hence down. Every once in a while, I like to take out my paintings and see how far I've come. Please join me in revisiting part of the series that developed from this journey I call tropical leaf quest. Where not only did I draw and paint the leaf, but I also got to know a bit more about it in hopes of being able to identify it when I find it out in the wild. Now, it's your turn and I'm so happy you're joining me to get started in the tropical leaf Quest will work on our watercolor skills and our botanical science in nature skills in the get to know the big O near lesson. From there, we'll create our palette to resemble the colors in a real begonias. As a final project, we'll sketch our leaf and enjoy the process by applying everything as we paint our begonias leaf front and back. To end this journey, we will be embellishing our leaf, giving her the unique polka dot tire, correct? Lynn Rosie loves to wear. So ready when you are. Come discover watercolors through this dotted beauty with me. Let's get our supplies ready. 2. Supplies for the Class: Let's take a look at the supplies we're going to need for this class. I'll be using henna meal to a 100 pound watercolor paper for the actual painting of the leaf. As well as Canson XL, 140 pound watercolor paper for the Swatches, will need at least two water jars, one to clean off your brush and the other to pick up water. Paints. At first, bring out all you've got pens and tubes. Then we'll round it down to the best options. Precious. A five or six round pointed tip brush will be good. Not all brands are the same. So just have that in mind. And a few liner brushes, all of them round with pointed tip. I mostly use synthetic bristles to give it the magical white spots. I'll be trying out a gel pen and white pen ink. However, you can also use watered-down acrylic or gosh, a mixing palette in case you might need to create your own palette. Of course, enough light and elbow room to rotate your sheet as you paint. I know. Iwill, let's set up our workstation and see you in the next lesson where we do a review of the basic watercolor techniques we'll be using. 3. Review of Watercolor Basic Techniques: Review of basic watercolor techniques, wet on dry, wet, on wet, and color transitions. Although we can approach watercolor from different angles and through very techniques. For this class, I will focus mainly on the skills needed to paint the crackling Rosie begonias. Of course, these techniques aren't exclusive to this project. Wet on dry and color transition methods are two of the most used in the illustrative style of watercolor. Please consider watching this lesson first before starting your practice. So that way you can understand the whys and hows of the technique and to your exercises with more confidence. For this practice, I'll be using colored dots on to small mixing palettes. These are the color families will be exploring on lessons 45, from which will create our personal crackling Rosie palette. Let's activate our paints. Mine, R&B, small pallets. Yours might be in there set at a droplet of water to each color you're using. And leave it a few seconds to loosen up the pigment. I'm doing this with a dropper. It can be done with your paintbrush. To. This exercise combines the wet on dry technique with colored transition, where wet refers to the paint and dry refers to the paper. And color transitions are the progressive addition of a new color blending into the previous one without leaving marks between each color. I'm using a round pointed tip size eight, synthetic bristle paintbrush for this exercise. Colored transitions look lovely when working with colors from the same family. In this case, I'm using greens and oranges, from yellow, orange to Brown. I'll be starting with my darkest green and proceeding with no special order in mind. But to show you the process, the effect, and to offer practice as you create something lovely. As you can see, we laid down two to three brushstrokes. Depending on the color saturation you're going for. Then before the pink puddle dry ice overlap with your next color. It is important to have your color choices ready and activated as to avoid wasting time. That could result in the paint drying and affecting the transition. If a color has dried up, pick up a bit of water with your paintbrush and reactivate your paint. Then blended into the previous color, overlapping just enough to work with the paint bottle that gathered by the lower edge. Only through practice will you get the feel of just how much water is needed. The weather, temperature, airflow of your workspace, and the type of paper. We'll also be factors that will have a say in this. Let's try it again. I'm starting with a deep Rose Red Sea, the shimmer of the pink puddle. That's where you'll overlap and add your next color. These two techniques, the wet on dry and color transitions, work perfectly together because the dry quality of the paper gives us more control over the distribution of the paint and lets us keep the saturation of the color as we need it. I know what paper, on the other hand, the color gets diluted and flows along with the puddle. On that note, let's continue with our next technique, which is the wet on wet, in which we wet the paper to receive the paint. Wet on wet is a technique in which the water and Paper Texture take care of the blending. You could say that we just drop the paint to where we'd like for it to be and leave the rest of the work to the elements. So we'll paint a shape using the wet on dry technique and making sure that the color in the shape is evenly wet will drop some paint in a different color on the inside rim of the shape and let it spread and blend. For additive effect and with the shape still wet. Let's tap in a new color in the center. That is how watercolor reacts in the wet on wet technique. Let's try it again. Paint an organic shape. Make sure it's wet and start tapping in an outline inside the rim. Now, while it's still wet, add another color to the center and sit back and enjoy the show. These are the techniques we'll be using to paint our crackling Rosie begonias. Keep practicing. It's the only way to gain confidence and start enjoying your watercolor journey. Excited to start seeing your colored transition practices in the project section of the class. And coming up and getting to know the big Anya. 4. Meet the Begonia: Meet the begonias. Let's find out a little bit about its habitat is shape, and structure. Begonias is proud to be one of the largest generic among the flowering plants. This diverse genius comprises more than one hundred, eight hundred perennial species of different natures. These natives to the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, America, and South Asia include both indoor and outdoor plants. Begonias, crackling Rosie is an upright came like begonias. The leaves are large and bronze color when young. They mature to a dark green with many silvery dots. The back of the leaf is red, and this shows up as a leaves have a natural curl to them. The hypervisor, Walter Dworkin, named this cultivar after Neil Diamond song. This hybrid does not bloom very often, but when it does, the pink flowers are enlarged clusters. This leaf has an OH shape and an unrelated margin with a very simple structure comprised of a petiole, sinus and the main vein. Using a color picker, I've digitally identified eight main colors to use as our personal palates. Let's find the range set match in our next lesson, finding the best colors. See you in a bit. 5. Finding the Best Colors: Green Palette: Finding the best colors, green palette after using the color picker to identify the different shades of green on this leaf. I rounded it down to four. Now the fun part is swatching all the greens I have both from today and from pan paints to find the ones that best match. Those will be our personal green palette. So here goes. As you can see, there's a bit of brand variety here. However, don't mind the brand. Let's focus on the sheet. I often do this exercise before a new piece. It also serves as a color swatch card for later reference. In this case, I do have ample green options. However, when this isn't the case, then I create a color family chart, like in my previous class. I will mention the brand and color name as I paint. The swatch palette we're going for is at the top of the slide so that we don't forget the colors we need. Let's start for prevail options. First one, sap green, earth green, permanent green, yellow green. Now Murray's green, deep light green. Sap green. Now a small Daniel Smith, turquoise green, Grumbacher, fallow green, and another Daniel Smith, undersea green. Now pan paints from my favorite set, also primaries. Green, deep cobalt green, oxide green, olive green, turquoise green, sap green, viridian green, pale yellowish green. Let's take a good look at the colors we need. Do we have swatches to match? I think we do. I'm choosing Daniel Smith, undersea green, Murray's olive green. And also from Murray's oxide green. Just remembered this greenish gray by Grumbacher called Davies gray, which mixed with Murray's sap green, could give us our fourth color. Isn't that fabulous? Daniel Smith, undersea green, Murray's oxide green, Murray's olive green. And this lovely grayish green from the mix of groom buffers, Davis grave, and Marie's Sap green. You might not have the exact same colors as the ones shown here. So I recommend identifying the darkest green, another one or two shades lighter. And a third one, close intent to sap green, which we'll use for the veins, petiole, and stem of our begonias. Let's continue with our coppery red palette. See you in a bit. 6. Finding the Best Colors: Coppery Red Palette: Finding the best colors are to coppery red palette. Looking closely at the bits of the underside of the begonias leaf shown in this photo, I identified with the color picker a palette that ranges from a greenish 10 to a deeper burnt red. So I brought out my two paints, starting with yellows, a bit darker, and going on to some darker oranges to browns and my darkest red. Let's watch them. We have mostly Maurice watercolors. First one, gamboge. Next, yellow ocher. Pivotal dark cadmium, yellow, Maurice, Orange, yellow, vermilion, burnt sienna, burnt umber, and crimson red. Now, let's watch a few pan paints that come close to the colors were looking for. These are all from my Murray's pen set. We have red oxide, bright red, RubyMine crimson, purple, red, rose, crimson, Scarlett, vermilion red, orange red, and orange yellow. As for the browns, Yellow Oxide, burnt sienna, Indian red, lights red, and burnt umber. Looking at these swatches, the colors that come closest to the palette, we need our red oxide, Indian red, bright red, yellow oxide mixed with sap green to get the greenish 10. Just out of curiosity, I mixed red oxide and bright red. And here is our personal coppery red palette for the back of this lovely leaf. As with the green palette, you might not have the same colors as those I swatch here. I'd love to see your color swatches in the project section of the class and help you in creating your own palette. See you in the next class where we draw our crackling Rosie begonias. 7. Drawing the Begonia: Drawing the begonias, there are important details to notice before sketching your begonias leaf. Most of them curl inward, all along the rim or at some points, giving it a wavy silhouette. Where this happens, we get a glimpse of the reddish reverse side of the leaf. If you're looking at the front of the leaf, the upper lobe overlaps. The lower lobe, which come together at the sinus. Which means that if you look back of the leaf, you'll get the reverse effect, lower lobe overlapping the upper loop. This is important because we'll need a bit of shadow to create the effect. The veins seem a lighter, brighter green on the front and a greenish 10 on the back. So we do need to consider this as we draw the veins with parallel lines. Just in case you're not excited about sketching freehand. You can find a copy of the sketch I am using in the resources section of the class for you to use as reference to trace or to print on a sheet, watercolor paper. As soon as you've got your sketch ready. See you in the next lesson to paint the front of our begonias leaf with our personal green palette. 8. Paint the Begonia: Front First: Paint the begonias front sight first with our green palette and begonias sketch ready. Let's get painting. We'll start with our liner brush and sap green building in the veins. We're going to take it slow, just to be more precise, as we fill in each of the veins of our begonias sketch. Are you painting along? I hope you can share your progress in the project section of the class. This can be truly meditative. Inhale as you said, the paintbrush and exhale slowly as you trace the vein. Don't forget. I've had to rotate the watercolor paper pad just to be a little bit more precise and to have a little bit of more control over my liner brush. Here's a photo just as a reminder of what we're trying to achieve. And as I come close to the end of this first part, I remind you just to leave your veins to dry completely before proceeding. Since I gave myself enough time to paint this slowly, the veins dried almost as soon as I painted them. So let's proceed with painting in the sections. We're going to be using a brush number 6, round pointed tip. To give the leaf a bit of dimension, I'm using the darker green, forming a nil by the main vein and lower vein of the section, and transitioning to a lighter green as I approached the middle part of the section and and extending it to the upper vein. Then adding a third green tone to even it out just a bit. Let's look at the process again. So we have oxide green for the dimension, then the body of the section and olive green. And to even out, I'm using undersea green. Seamless color transitions are a result of several factors, like the type of paper you're using, but humidity in your paintbrush and room temperature or airflow. At the moment here in my hometown, the air conditioning is on 24, 7. So I do need to work fast. And since watercolor can't be hurried, I've come to appreciate watermarks and blooms in my botanical paintings. Nevertheless, keep the paint edge wet to blend your colors better. Here comes another rotation. Also important to be mindful of the angle of your paintbrush. If you hold it perpendicular lead to your paper, you can achieve straighter finer lines. If you hold it a little bit flatter to your paper, you will fill out a larger space. Don't forget to keeping during the process, inhale and exhale. You don't need to be tense. This could be truly meditator. So we're coming up to the curls and folds of the big on near leaf. Just be very mindful of when it folds inwards and when it's a curl. Because when it's a curl, we're going to be seeing the back side of the leaf that would be pink or reddish, copper red. And when it's a fault, we would need to emphasize with shadow just to give the full effect. And we would still be seeing the green side of the leaf. Even though I have no problem with the water bleeds and blooms, I will be blending a little bit more in the sections where I see that the blooms almost taking over the section. So I will be going over at first with a little bit of water on my brush, only water. And if I see that the dark green that we were using for dimension starts to disappear, then I'll go in with a little bit of paint on my brush, very, very diluted paint, and go over the L that we were adding with our dark green and then blend it in with water again. Okay, So the upper and lower lobe on the front of the leaf, we're doing the upper lobe and a lighter green, and the lower lobe in a darker green because we would be casting a shadow. The, the upper local casts a shadow on the lower lobe. Okay, Again, clean water to blend and a bit of paint to highlight. Let's not forget also that all of these sections are going to be decorated, are embellished with the white dots of the big Ionia. So we're doing all this to get better background of the leaf. But let's not fret over excessive watermarks. You'll see that it'll all work out well. Enhancing the shadow of the fold of the leaf. So relieving the curls. Right now blank. We're going to do them when we do the backside of the leaf. So the front is ready. Let's get our copper. You read palette ready to continue with the backside of the leaf. See you in a bit. 9. Paint the Begonia: Now the Back: Paint the big Ionia. Now the back coppery red palette and front of Baconian leave, ready. Let's continue with the reverse side of our Kremlin rosy, because we'll proceed as with the front painting in the veins, will be using a color made from Yellow Oxide and sap green. I'm sure. Painting the veins in the previous lesson offered great exercise in precision. So this time it might go a bit quicker. Don't forget to make this a meditative moment. Breathe in as you set the brush and breathe out as you trace the vein. I often recommend to watch the video first and then go back and paint along. Otherwise, you could be trying to catch up with what I'm doing. Please don't forget that. That this video is edited for practicality. By no means would I ever paint at this speed. In fact, I do take my time. It is almost like my therapy. It is a moment of silence, it is a moment of connection. So again, if you can watch the video first, gather your supplies, and then come back and with the video on just as reference, just to feel in company, um, watch it again as you paint along with me. Since most of the veins have dried, I'll be picking up notice civil pencil marks with a kneaded eraser. This is the only option for the hand Emil, 200 pound paper because it can get easily frayed. Let's leave our painting to dry completely so that we may continue. Veins strike. Let's continue. Will be aiming for the same dimensional effect as the front of the leaf, but with a different technique for no special reason. But to show that the effect can be achieved using different ways of applying color. We'll be painting in the whole section first with the bright red, then tapping in the darker shade for effect. Let's see that again. So we're using bright red for the body and red oxide for dimension. Since the paint is still wet, we just tap in the darker color. Seamless color transitions are a result of several factors. Like the type of paper you're using, the humidity in your paintbrush and room temperature, as well as airflow. At the moment here in my desert hometown, the air conditioning is on 21st seven. So I do need to work fast. And since watercolor can't be hurried, I've come to appreciate watermarks and blooms in my botanical paintings. Nevertheless, keep the paint edge wet to blend your colors better. We've come to a part of the leaf that will be behind the front that we just painted. So we'd need to add a little bit of darker color right by the rim of the top leaf to form a shadow. To emphasize the effect of depth. Same in this section, we will need to add some shadow right by the edge to show depth. And we can always come back and go over our colors in case they blended together. And we lose the emphasis on the fact that we're trying to achieve. We're about to finish our leaf. But we're at the point of the lower low, where in this case, looking from the back of the leaf, the lower lobe would be the lighter one and the upper lobe would be the darker one. Okay, and remember to leave the stem, well, the patio, leave it blank. We're gonna painted in our next lesson where we add the details. We will be blending out and highlighting some sections to try to erase a bit of the watermarks and to darken up the colors because some sections dried a bit too light. And while this is a rosy begonias, so we need a little bit more rows in it. Sometimes we will add more paint and sometimes we will only use water. Remember the shadow. That's the good thing about using high-quality, high weight watercolor paper. You can rework it going over the veins because some of them got covered by the rosy Venus. So the back side of the leaf is ready. Now, let's do the magical details. See you soon. 10. Paint the Begonia: Details: With our big Anya front and back in full color. It's time to give it the magical details. Let's give crackling Rosie her polka dot dress. Before getting Dadi, we need to fill in the characteristic folds. Remember that the folds show us the beautiful Rosie reverse of the leaf. So using the same color. Let's start painting. Now this stem, this big Anya is from the cane variety. So the SAM is long and branches out into many of these lovely leaves and connects to the sinus through the petiole. I'm using a number 3 flat synthetic paintbrush and the color sap green. Finally, the dots. I tried doing it with a white gel pen but didn't get the saturated dots I wanted. So I continued with lightly diluted white ink on my handmade palette using a double 0 synthetic paintbrush. Much better. So I'm using white ink, however, watered-down white acrylic or goulash are also very good options. As we approach the fold. Be careful to leave your dots halfway done so that we emphasize the fold of the leaf. And here she is crackling Rosie begonias. So excited to see your process, photos and final project in the project section of the class. And with these wonderful details, we finish the class project. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. 11. Final Thoughts: Final thoughts. What a joy crackling. Rosie got her polka dot dress. I hope you enjoyed the process. I sure did. It was a true pleasure to welcome you into my studio and guide you in this new tropical leaf quest. Now the Kremlin Rosie begonias can join the Monstera from my previous class. In your book technical art portfolio. I'll be on the lookout for your projects, comments and questions in the project section of the class and on Instagram with the hashtag, I'm on a tropical leaf Quest. I'm already dreaming about our next tropical leaf adventure. Click Follow to be notified when the next tropical leaf drops. See you soon.