Drawing Plants & Leaves: Grow Your Unique Style Through a Visual Library | Marie-Noëlle Wurm | Skillshare

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Drawing Plants & Leaves: Grow Your Unique Style Through a Visual Library

teacher avatar Marie-Noëlle Wurm, Artist, illustrator, HSP

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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

    • 1.

      Drawing plants & leaves: Grow your unique style through a visual library


    • 2.

      What you need for the class


    • 3.

      What a visual vocabulary is & why it's important


    • 4.

      Leaf structure


    • 5.

      Leaf shapes


    • 6.

      Leaf edges


    • 7.

      Leaf venation


    • 8.

      How to assimilate the library


    • 9.

      Two essential ingredients


    • 10.

      Making your unique drawing


    • 11.

      Demo + explanation


    • 12.

      See you soon!


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About This Class

This class is for those who are curious to expand your visual vocabulary on the subject of plants and leaves. We will be moving from a ‘research’ perspective, where I will bring you through the process of building a visual leaf library, learning about leaf structure, leaf shapes, leaf edges and leaf venation — and then using this library as a springboard for creating your own unique drawings. 

The class is geared to any and all people who are interested in learning about a tool that will develop your artistic skills, and to those of you who love plants! 

If you want to check out some of my other classes, they're over here: 

Abstract Watercolor Painting: Explore Through Freeform & Planned Process ( selected as a Staff Pick!)

Improve Your Ink Work: Brush Pen Adventures Through Lines & Textures ( selected as a Staff Pick!)

Fearless Art Jumpstart: A 14-Day Drawing Challenge to Unlock Your Creative Self

Secrets, Tips & Tricks to Finding Your Voice as an Artist

Unleash Your Creativity: Draw Without Fear in 5 Simple Exercises

Meet Your Teacher

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Marie-Noëlle Wurm

Artist, illustrator, HSP

Top Teacher

I believe that every single one of us has a wealth of untapped creativity that lies within. Maybe there are brambles and thickets in the way so that it feels dark & scary or awakens the lurking beasts in the shadows. But it's there. I hope to lend a hand on this sometimes scary but beautiful journey of getting back in touch with your creativity, of expansion, exploration, of opening yourself up to the wealth of wisdom inside you—to help you gently brush away the brambles and the thickets, and clear away the path back to yourself & the creative fields that lie within.  

Hi, my name is Marie-Noëlle Wurm, and I'm a French, American and German artist & illustrator living in the South of France. You'll often find me sipping good coffee in local cafes, reading a book, w... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. Drawing plants & leaves: Grow your unique style through a visual library: This is a plant. I love this plant. It's pretty, isn't it? [inaudible] Hi, My name is Marie-Noelle Wurm and I'm an Artist in Illustrator based in [inaudible] I've already done two classes on skill share. One of them is about unleashing your creativity in order to learn to draw without fear. The second one is little secrets tips and tricks to finding your voice as an artist. You don't need to have done any of my previous classes in order to do this one. You can do them in whatever order that you want. They all do build into each other though for this third class, what I'm looking to bring you is a little bit more of a mix of a technical class linked with creativity notions that I spoke about in my previous classes. But then I'm also going to be developing in this class, what we're going to be working on is the importance of building a visual library. A visual library from which you can pull from so that when you're in front of your page, you have already a little encyclopedia, little book of things that you can choose from. So what I'm going to be doing is bringing you through the process of building a visual library, which initially will seem very schematic, very simplified versions of different ways of drawing leaves. So first we're going just be working on flexing or memory muscle or visual memory muscle are hand memory muscle morally integrate those different possibilities within our visual language. Then we're going to be using this visual library as a starting point to developing your own artistic voice. How can you make your own unique drawing with the help of this visual library that you've built, we're going to be talking more specifically about plants and even more specifically about leaves. The reason it's so specific is because you would be amazed at the amount of possibilities that you can pull from and how those can really enrich your drawings and make them much more visually interesting, especially if you're somebody who likes to integrate the natural world in your drawings, which personally I love. So if you like to integrate the natural world and plants and leaves and flowers into your artwork, then this class is going to be hopefully very valuable. I'm really excited about this class and I hope that you'll join in so that we can create our own little Jiang Li forests altogether. Thank you for being a part of this. Hey, let's get to it. You ready? 2. What you need for the class: Can you see me? First of all, hello. Welcome to my class. I'm super excited to get started and I hope you are too. I wanted to just check in with you so that you know what it is that you need for the class. Nothing very complicated. All you need is a sketchbook. Mine is big but I'm also going to be using a smaller one for some more finished drawings. You can do whatever size you're comfortable with. It doesn't even need to be a sketchbook if you don't have any lying around. You can grab any piece of paper. You basically just need about, I would say five or six pieces of paper, or five, or six pages in your sketch book. Most important thing, and I'm going to keep repeating, I've said it in my previous classes and I'm going to say it again, is that you take something that doesn't terrify you. Don't get necessarily the nicest, most professional looking tools if that instills so much fear that you're not able to actually open it and get the stuff done. I'm going to be doing things in pencil. You can do pencil, you can do pens, you can add color. It doesn't really matter. What is most important here is the principles that I'm teaching you and what it is that you are going to take from the class and remember once this class is over. All right, let's get started. 3. What a visual vocabulary is & why it's important: I'm trying and thinking about how I'm going to organize this. It is trickier than you think actually. Before we get into the nitty gritty of things, I want us first to talk about the importance of building a visual vocabulary. If you're interested in drawing, if you like drawing, having a visual vocabulary is kind of obligatory. Why? Think about it as a sort of language. If you consider the drawing as a form of communication, which it is, it uses images and symbols and lines and colors in order to communicate certain things to the viewer. Then just like a language has to have words and a grammar and a structure in order for you to be able to speak, make clear what it is that you actually want say or what you mean. You need to have those tools with you. You need to know the grammar, you need to know the words, you need to know how to put them together in a way that makes sense for the other person. What's fascinating about this is just like language. That doesn't mean that everybody speaks the same. That doesn't mean that the way I express myself is going to be the same way somebody else expresses themselves. Just looking at the amount of writers and authors that are there in the world, different styles of writing that gives you a sense of how these sort of elemental structures, even though we learn similar sets of words, of rules of grammar, it opens the doors to a wealth of diversity and unique voice. When we're thinking about drawing, there's something very similar there. There are these rules and principles and words, visual words that we can use, that can be all the same for all of us, but it allows us to actually delve deeper into our unique voice. Even though this class is about plants and even more specifically leaves, I'm going to use an example that is more generic, I guess. I'd like you to imagine a chair. What chair do you see in your mind? The probability is that you have a schematic vision of a chair in your mind. It has something to sit on, it has four legs, and it has something to lean. That's kind of the basic schematic idea that you have in your mind. But then if you go and you look at all the different kinds of chairs that exists in reality, you'll notice that that initial symbolic representation that you have in your mind is limited, and that what actually exists in the world is insane variation on the subject of a simple chair. It's the same thing when we're talking about plants or leaves. People will often have one or two, maybe three, maybe five or maybe seven, if you're lucky. Possibilities of different trees or different leaves or different plants to draw. But what I want us to do is to expand the symbolic idea, the symbolic representation that we have of, in this case, a leaf. Rather than being a single possibility, we're going to multiply those symbolic representations. Once you multiply those, it's like adding tons of colors into your crayon box. You have all these different avenues and roads that you can go down. We're going to be trying to complexify the images that we have in our mind of leaves. But we can do it about something else. We can do it about chairs, we can do it about lamps, we can do it about dogs, or whatever other subjects that you're interested in. That's also what's cool. Once you've learned that there's a way of expanding your visual vocabulary, then you realize, well, I can actually do this with whatever subject inspires me personally. If you have an obsession with pastry and you want to expand your pastry visual vocabulary, then you can apply this to that or learn how to make really cool-looking planes. What I'm trying to get is that learning this method is something that then can be applied to all the different subjects that interest you specifically and then help you build your artistic voice. We're going to start off with making schematic drawings. I'm going to bring you through that process by demoing it for you and explaining what I'm doing as I'm doing. The important thing with a visual vocabulary is not only about knowing the words. It's about being able to recall them as soon as you need them, right? So that's part of vocabulary. I'm going to first be showing you what these words are, and then I'm also going to show you how can you go from something that's very little, very real, very schematic to something that's much more organic and flowing and then corresponds to you and to what you're looking for in your own drawings? Let's do this. 4. Leaf structure: This first part is going to seem maybe a little bit categorical because that's literally what I'm trying to do. We're going to be trying to build mental categories so that it's very clear in your mind what the different possibilities are. Once those are clear, then you can refer back to that list, refer back to those different categories and be like, oh, no, for this drawing, I want this one or I want that one. As always, the most important thing here is to have fun with this. If you're not having fun, ask yourself what it is that you're not having fun with. If you find that this class is perhaps too technical so you're getting bored of learning all the categories, then maybe find a way to make it less categorical, but still maintaining the idea of how do I learn all these different possibility. I'm giving you the option of categories because I know it's a simple way of memorizing. But if that doesn't work for you, find your way of learning this visual vocabulary, because you'll see that it will allow you to have so much fun when you're actually creating drawings that are just full of plants. You'll have so many different possibilities. First, we're going to be looking at what the structure of a leaf is, sounds simple right? Well, you'd be surprised. Usually you think a leaf is a leaf, but actually, it's not just a leaf. Sometimes you have a single leaf, sometimes you have what we call a compound leaf, and a compound leaf is like a leaf that was divided so much that it looks like it's many leaves. It sounds strange, but each single section is actually what we call a leaflet and the entire thing of leaflets is the actual leaf. Why is this important? Because geometrically, it makes a huge difference visually. Do you see how different they are? That can be very valuable to use in your drawings in order to vary the different structures, to vary the different textures. 5. Leaf shapes: [MUSIC] 6. Leaf edges: 7. Leaf venation: way, way. 8. How to assimilate the library: Now that we have already a little visual library of different things including types of leaves, shapes of leaves, leaf edges, leaf venation, we could go on and there are many other examples of all these things. Of course, I've selected a few but there are many more. Why is this library so simple and so schematic? Because it actually makes it easier to learn it. When I talk about flexing or visual memory muscle, not only we doing that, if you make your own little page with these different categories in order to first have a layout of it. Also, once you've done that, once you've made your visual library that you can refer back to, you can actually practice trying to integrate that by hiding it and trying to do them by heart. For some people that might be a little boring, it's more like route memorization, but if you want to bring in some inner creative flare while you're doing that, that's fine. For me it was simpler to just go ahead and do it many, many times in order to have them all in my mind when I'm actually trying to make a drawing. There are a few different ways that you can try to assimilate these into your visual language. What I want you to most of all remember is that these are actually very simple shapes. We have an oval shape, we have a diamond shape, a triangle shape, a heart shape, a needle shape. I give you those names rather than the more technical biological names. Why? Because there are much simpler to remember. We can remember it can look like a heart, it can look like a spoon, it can look like pod. All those things are things that are very easily accessible. If we can remember that there are all these shapes and possibilities, then when you're drawing you don't actually need to refer to the library that you once made because you already have it in your mind. That's kind of the idea here. 9. Two essential ingredients: How do we go about moving from this schematic simple shape to creating your own unique voice, creating your own unique drawing. That's what this next part is going to be about. In some of my previous classes, I've developed ideas of creativity, but if you haven't done any of those, that's fine, I'm going to repeat and develop things on that subject here. For me, there are actually two aspects to developing your artistic voice and creating your own unique drawings. One of them is to be curious, and the other one is to experiment, and those are the two essential ingredients, I would say to finding your artistic style, your artistic voice. Why are those two the most important? If you're curious, then it means that you're going to be looking at things in a different way than just staring at them passively. When we go about our daily lives, we just ignore most things, and because we're so caught up in our minds, and we don't pay attention to visually what surrounds us. However, if we remind ourselves to stay curious and to stay in particular visually curious, because we want to get better at drawing and develop our creativity, then you'll notice that you'll be taking a little and time to observe the things around you. So be curious, now that we've looked at all of these simple forms, look at all the plants that you encounter on a daily basis. Whether it's in the cafe that you go to, your own garden, walking down the street in the park, or even on the internet, I'm surely you'll find a number of different plants and leaves that will surprise you, that you've never actually really looked at. You've never actually taken the time. "Yeah, wait, this is more of like a spear shaped leaf. Well, look at the veins. Well, how are the veins organized on this leaf?" We slid over these things without asking ourselves the question. This schematic representational library that you've built is going to help you look more closely at the things around you. Stay curious, if you want and you want more inspiration, go ahead, look at Pinterest, look at books, look at the plants around you. There's a wealth of sources you can refer to that will help grow the schematic library that you've built in order to complexify it a little. Second aspect that I was talking about is experimenting. I talk about this notion of lot. Why? Because not only does it alleviate the pressure of creating a perfect drawing on the first go, or the first time that we actually make a drawing. Also within experimentation, there's also the notion of curiosity, which was my first point. Except in this case, rather than being outwards curiosity about things that surround us, we're actually going into more of an inwards curiosity. What have I produced? What has this drawing reflected back to me? How am I responding to the image? What do I like about it? What don't I like about it? What am I going to learn? That's what's amazing about this notion of experimentation and experiment is always a success. Whether you like your drawing, then that's a great thing and you can be happy about what you've produced. Or on the other hand, if you're not happy about it, what can I learn from it? 10. Making your unique drawing: For the final drawing, be curious and experiment. You can use the references that we built from that library, but then you can also use other abstract textures for example and maybe invent your own kind of venation or your own kind of shape of leaf. You can make plants that don't look exactly like plants and look more like weird other things, I love doing that. The key is that these categories that we've built, even though it seems very rigid and square, there more of a bouncing boards so that you can then have a greater variety of things to choose from. It's something that you can keep building and keep growing. Grow your own little garden in your little sketchbook and then share with us if you want. I'd love to see the way that you interpret this exercise, not only the more categorical, not only the sketches, the initial visual sketches that we're referring to, but also then how you moved from that to your finished drawing. Do one, do two, do three, do as many as you'd like, but have fun with it. Because that's the point of drawing, not only to learn but to have fun. So have fun, learn a few things, and share your little garden with us. I'm going to share my little garden with you and I hope you'll share yours too. 11. Demo + explanation: All right, so here we go. What you'll notice for this first drawing is that I've decided to take a more literal take on the visual library. What I mean by that is that each single plant that I was integrating into this drawing, I was really thinking about, what kind of plants am I doing? What's the shape of the leaf? How am I going to make it different from the previous plants that I've drawn. So in this one I'm doing little tiny leaves that are opposing other that look more composed, and then now I'm trying to vary that not only by choosing a different kind of leaf that is more of the single leaf, the single blade with a long step, but also I'm trying to vary by changing the size. That's something that you can use in your own drawings, is make the different plants different sizes. Does the plant looks very bushy? Are the leaves very far apart from each other? How are they structured so that it can look a little bit more visually interesting. I'm also thinking about the veins and the edges. For example, right now I'm working on parallel veins in one of these long sort of needle, thin kind of leaves, in comparison to the previous one where I have more of a palm shaped vein structure. Something else that you're going to notice is that I'm also putting leaves in front and behind each other, which is something that you can do in order to increase depth. But you don't necessarily need to do that. It can also be super fun to just have the leaves be very flat and make a very 2D drawing. It really depends on what you're comfortable with or what you want to experiment with. So now I'm adding a little bit more texture to the previous plant that I did just so that it looked a little bit more integrated to these longer leaves, this longer plants. Now you're going to notice that I'm also adding in a few little more abstract kind of textures. My own takes on little plants, and that's also something that you can do. In this new section what you can see is that I'm really taking into account the 3D structure of the plant, and like I said, if you're comfortable with doing that, then go ahead and do that but it's not necessary. If you don't know how to do that, then that's fine. Just make it more flat like in the schematic version of the library that can also make a super fun drawing. In these next drawings that I'm going to be showing you, I decided to pull away from the visual library in order to just focus on making drawings that I really enjoyed and liked doing and like looking at. In this one, I specifically chose one kind of leaf, one kind of venetian and then added my own little take on roots. Same thing for this next one, which is kind of a cross I guess between the first one and the second one. What was happening is that since I had already practiced a bunch of times integrating the visual library, I was much more comfortable making these flourishing little gardens with many different kinds of plants in them. But keeping the atmosphere that I liked in the first ink drawing which was a tiny little isolated plants with these kinds of roots that are hanging down. So this is my version obviously of how I can move from something more literal to something more personal. But there are many, many different ways of doing this, and what I'm hoping is that you'll find your way of doing that by experimenting and doing a few different ones, so that you find something that you think is fun to do. 12. See you soon!: Thank you so much for being a part of this class. It was super fun. I know I learned a ton, I hope you learned a ton and I'm really excited to see what you're going to create. Please share in the project section the advancement of all the different parts of the exercise. Let me know if you have any thoughts about any of the things that I said, whether you agree or you disagree or you want to add onto that. I love talking about art and creativity. What else? I'm on all the social media, I'm on all the stuff. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Patreon where you can get behind the scenes look into my secret projects and other things that I'm working on [inaudible] at c, tick tail, all the things. Yeah, come find me.