Botanical Watercolor Painting: Eucalyptus Leaves | Katrina Pete | Skillshare

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Botanical Watercolor Painting: Eucalyptus Leaves

teacher avatar Katrina Pete, Watercolor Artist

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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.

      Getting Started: Practicing Leaf Shapes


    • 2.

      Part One: Watercolor Eucalyptus Leaves


    • 3.

      Part Two: Watercolor Eucalyptus Leaves


    • 4.

      Part Three: Watercolor Eucalyptus Leaves


    • 5.

      Part Four: Watercolor Eucalyptus Leaves


    • 6.

      Part Five: Watercolor Eucalyptus Leaves


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About This Class

Hello and welcome to my class! We will be painting watercolor eucalyptus leaves and branches using shades of green and brown. I will start my class with a short three minute practice video of my supplies and colors used while demonstrating leaf shapes and forms. Then, I will demonstrate this watercolor painting of eucalyptus leaves with voiceover explaining my process from start to finish.

Here are some key points we will cover in this class.

  • Learn how to mix various shades of green to create realistic looking leaves and stems. 
  • Using a pointed round brush to create various shapes, thick and fine lines and detailed edges.
  • Negative space painting a second and third layer of leaves behind the first layer.
  • Utilizing dry brush technique and wet-into-wet techniques
  • Softening hard edges 
  • Fixing mistakes in watercolor
  • Having fun!


  1. Silver Brush Limited, Black Velvet Series, round size 8
  2. Turquoise d' Pthalo Sennelier watercolor paint or Turquoise Pthalo Green shade. (any shade of blue-ish green will work, or you can mix a blue and yellow to get the shade you desire.) Note: These particular colors are very staining, which means they are difficult to lift out of your paper. Any color in the Pthalo family is staining, but very beautiful. 
  3. Raw Sienna (or Yellow Ochre)- Holbein
  4. Sepia-Holbein (any shade of brown will do, raw umber, burnt umber, etc. Just a dark shade of brown.)
  5. 140 lb cold pressed watercolor paper. I use Arches, or Fabriano, or Daler Rowney Langnton.

Follow me on instagram to check out my latest paintings and in process projects!

Meet Your Teacher

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Katrina Pete

Watercolor Artist


All of my paintings and illustrations are dreamed up in my happy little home studio in Minnesota. My painting career began with my Etsy Shop, and soon turned into commissioned work and illustration for a large card company. I love teaching, and I love helping other artists improve their skills and techniques. Please contact me if you have any questions. I hope you enjoy my video tutorials!

I love the way the colors blend into one another, hard and soft lines on textured paper, the luminosity of the pigment and the meditative state that happens with good coffee, sunshine and a paint brush.

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Level: All Levels

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1. Getting Started: Practicing Leaf Shapes: hello and welcome to my class to get started, I'm using some turquoise. Stay low by similiar. I'm also using some yellow Oakar by whole bine and sepia, also by whole bine. And you can use any brand of paint that you would like. I use a little bit of raw number and some of my leaves. Also for brushes, I'm using the silver Black velvet. Siri's the pointed round. They work really well for, um painting leaves. They come to a very fine tip. You can vary the thickness of the brush stroke just by using more pressure. You can use any type of pointed round brush that you'd prefer. Whatever you're comfortable with these particular brushes I really like because they hold a lot of water there, a mixture of natural fibers and synthetic fibres. So that means they they hold their shape pretty well, and they also come to a nice find point. Now, before you start your actual painting, I recommend just having a scratch piece of paper nearby and just practice some simple leaves and some simple brush strokes. Now you can use any kind of green shade. I really like this. Ah, turquoise Stay low. I also have Ah, turquoise stay low green shade, and both of them are really beautiful colors that I use a lot in my paintings. Now I don't usually use the color straight from the two because it's very bright. It's beautiful, but I'm going for more of a subdued look with the's eucalyptus leaves. So I toned it down by adding a little bit of brown or a little bit of yellow Oakar, and you'll see that when we get to our actual painting, I'll just continue practicing painting different leaf shapes and forms. You don't want them all to look the same so you can make somethin some flat, some very round, and you also want to very the amount of paint in each leave so somewhat darker. Some are lighter. 2. Part One: Watercolor Eucalyptus Leaves: so you'll begin by taking your pointed round brush, dabbing it in that later green mixture and make a C shape on your paper to make the edge of that leave nice and crisp and you'll end at just the point of that leaf so that your pigment stays a little bit darker at the end. Then we're going to clean up just the other side of this leaf with a damp brush filled with just a little bit of clean water to soften that edge and bring the color all the way to the edge. And while the leaf is still what you're going to take your pointed round and draw a little stems from the leaf, these air gonna be connecting to this leave and another one so you wanna work fairly quickly so that the paint hasn't completely dried. This will give you a nice transition between each leaf and connecting stems. Now you can continue making leaves here, starting with outlining them and then filling them and fairly quickly so that your paint doesn't dry on the paper. Now you can see I made a little bit of a mistake to the left. There's some green paint on my paper and I'll show you how you can fix a mistake like that . And watercolor. I might try and lift it out of the paper, but it might be difficult. So in this case, I might actually paint over it and just blended into my leaves are my stems. My first leaf has dried already, but I wanted to darken it a little bit. So I've added some more pigment to the leaf, and I'm going to be softening some of those edges with my damp brush. Now this is just a flat brush with just a little bit of clean water on it, and it softens those edges. So I'm going to be adding some brown tones into my leaves and stems. I'm going to add it while this leaf is still damp so that the brown blends pretty smoothly in with the green. And this color will look, uh, more cohesive. How I rarely use green straight from the tube while painting botanicals, so I always use a brown or another neutral, a yellow, sometimes blue. It makes it more of a natural looking watercolor painting. In this case, I used C P A. But you could use any sort of brown. Um, I also used a little bit of Rossi, Hannah and also just a bit of rock number. Now you'll notice. Here is I'm continuing to add more leaves. This one has dried out a little bit too quickly. So when I apply more color and pigment, you can tell it's already forming. Ah, hard edge, which is not what I'm going for. So I'm cleaning it up with my my damp, flat brush. You can use any type of brush as long as it's not really wet, just damp enough to sort of blend those edges into the background. 3. Part Two: Watercolor Eucalyptus Leaves: I'm going to start making some leaves with my yellow okra mixture. You can also use Rossi and, uh, I used them interchangeably, and I'm also going to be adding just little bits of green in with the's leaves. I just think those touches of green will help it blend in with the other green leaves below . Now I painted this freehand while observing some eucalyptus branches in front of me, but I will provide an outline of these branches so that you can trace it and and use it for your own painting. So you'll notice that I didn't take a break and dip my brush and water between these two leaves. So I do this sometimes, and it makes sure that the believes and the stems are all the same color in value in tone. Now, here I dip my brush in some more of my mixture of raw sienna or yellow joker, either one that you decide to use. And when you're painting different leaves, just try and vary the shape a little bit between each one, so that they're not all the same. Some of these leaves when you look at it straight on or head on their flat. So you're really only seeing part of the leaf instead of as if it were flattened by a book . Now, some of them look that way, but you you want to vary the shape, and it really helps to either Look at a photograph and really study it. Maybe do a drawing beforehand that it also helps to just paint live what's in front of you like a still life. Now, while these leaves air still what? I'm taking a little bit of my raw number, my darker brown and I'm just dabbing it in and you'll see how it it starts to bring thes tones together. They're similar to the tones and the green leaves with that darker brown and those and here I made just a little mistake. I went a little too far with that stem, and I fixed it by just taking Ah, a brush with some clean water, a damp brush, and I just swiped off some of that paint color. Now you're going to see here. That little purple mark was made by accident from my other hand, and you're gonna see how I fix this mistake. Um, later on in this video. I tried toe lift that color with a damp cloth, but it it won't lift. Some of the pigments are very staining, and that particular one that purple color was very staining, so I'm just going to have to work with it and probably paint over it later on with some darker brown tones. 4. Part Three: Watercolor Eucalyptus Leaves: So here's where it starts to get really fun, where our first layer has dried and we're gonna be working on our second layer of color. Now, these leaves, I'm going to make a little bit darker. The pigment is richer and these leaves will. Some of them will be in the background so that the ones in the front are a little bit lighter and they will start to pop when you see we're going to be painting darker leaves around them. The stems of this particular plant, eucalyptus, are kind of thin compared to the leave. So I'm trying to keep with that aesthetic, and it really helps to use Ah, a brush with a strong sharp point. I'm using a number eight pointed round by silver Black velvet are This is the number 10 but even a number 10 has such a nice fine point that I I can use it for really thin lines. Now see how this green is like a medium shade. It's darker than the light green leaves next to it. It's just simply made by adding more paint to your water ratio, and you can make a simple chart if you want to kind of help see your mixture. But either way, with practice you'll you'll kind of get a feel for how how dark the paint will be on paper , and it always dries a little bit lighter anyway. Now, this background layer of leaves and stems is really important because it helps to define the leaves and the stems that air in the foreground or closer to you. So you wanna be careful around the leaves and make sure you use a brush that you're really familiar with and, um, and just sort of carve around those leaves in the foreground again, it's important to make sure that the first layer is completely dry. Otherwise, you might have some colors blending into each other or some unexpected things happen. I'll just continue painting your leaf while it's still wet. Um, you only have maybe a few minutes before it starts to dry on your paper, because this is, uh, sort of a dry brush technique where we're applying paint directly. It's a dry paper now here I decided I needed a have a darker tone behind this really pale light green leaf. So I decided to go for an olive color in. I achieved that color by just mixing my green with a little bit of my yellow joker. And it's It gave me a neutral olive tone, Um, you Congar can and even more with some of your your darker brown or your raw number again. You can see how I'm really careful around that stem because I want that later stem to stay late. So I'm just using my pointed round, and I am painting very close to the edge of it, just being careful not to go over it. And there it looks like I did a little bit, but But then again, a minor little mistake like that isn't a big deal. Overall, when you look at your painting, you want to get a certain feeling from it. That's what everybody says. That's how everyone feels when they view a painting. It's the overall look, and they're not looking at the tiny little things that Onley you might pick out. So when this is all complete and finished, I think you'll be happy with what you have. So here I am attempting to fix that one mistake. Remember that purple mark? So I'm just going over it with my dark all of mixture and just covering it right up. I'm also going toe Add in my stem with the same mixture without going back into my water. This will connect the two pieces together. 5. Part Four: Watercolor Eucalyptus Leaves: Now, when you're painting Freehand like this without any drawing that you're going off of, you take a lot of pauses. You take a lot of breaks and you look at your painting from far away, and you just try and get a sense about where to put the next few leaves or stems. So in this case, I felt like I needed some darker colors and some more of that warmer brown color on this side of the painting to balance out those green tones that which are softer and paler. So I'm just adding some more darker leaves in the background, and again you'll see how, when I add them behind the lighter leaves that it really helps move those leaves to the front. Now I'm going to be painting some darker stems behind the lighter ones. Just be very careful about where you place your marks. You you don't want to go over the later ones unless that's what you're going for. But in this case, I wanted the later ones to be pushed forward and and it works by just being very careful and using, Ah, a brush with a really fine point like this pointed round. Now Remember the very year shapes with your leaves and also paint them quickly. I'd say in under a minute or two and fill in your leaves. I usually outlined them first and then fill them in with that same paint mixture. Now, if your background leaves look a little too close and value or color to the foreground leaves, then you're gonna want to adjust that. And you can do that by adding more pigment, more more paint. Um, that will create more of a contrast. In this case, I felt like the leaf I was painting right now was just a little bit too similar and value again. Value is is dark and light tones, and in this case, I decided to add just a little bit more raw number while the leaf was still wet. And that made it just dark enough so that it provided that contrast between this leaf and the one in front of it. No, I'm defining just one of these stems with just a darker line, and when you're working with two colors like this, my green and we can call it copper or light pale brown, it's important to mix them interchangeably to give your painting some balance. Now, in this case, I felt like something was missing from this side of the paper. So I decided to add just more leaves and stems and again vary the shape. If you want to paint quickly, don't go back in and dip your brush and water. Just continue connecting leaves and stems together. 6. Part Five: Watercolor Eucalyptus Leaves: now keep in mind the area of the painting that has the highest amount of contrast, or the darkest and lightest values is usually where the eye focuses most of the attention. So when you're working on a painting, just keep in mind where you want that area to be, and also how you want the item. Move around in a painting. You don't want it to stay in one spot, but you wanted to start in one spot and kind of move throughout the painting. Keep in mind when you're painting each leaf individually. If you wanna have some color variation within that leaf and you're going for a smooth transition, make sure you do it while it's still wet. In this case, I'm adding just a little bit more of my raw number. So this is an example of a wet into wet technique also on the paper when you apply paint to an area that's already wet, and the important thing to remember here is that when you're adding another color into another wet area, make sure that it's about the same concentration as the area that you're applying paint you'll see here this color that I'm applying is about the same concentration as the color that's already on the paper. So if I had too much water on my brush, what would happen is it would push all those pigments to the edge and create these hard, unwanted edges. Now, when you're painting branches and stems, make sure to keep them organic looking. So that means you wanna have some bends and twists and different thicknesses of branches. Also, another thing you want to do is to vary the darkness of your branches on your stems. If you look at one in real life, there's lighter areas on darker areas and little knobs and twists here and there. Now I'm adding another leaf here that's a little bit darker than the ones in front of it. I just felt like the ones in front of it weren't defined enough, so I'm just carefully painting this leaf in the background, using raw number and a little bit of my raw sienna, and you don't have to be perfect as faras um, painting all the way to the edge of those foreground leaves. You can overlap them a little bit when you're using a darker color. It's not um, it's not going to be noticeable if you overlap just a little bit. So in this painting we did a few different techniques. We did a bit of dry brush technique. That's just what paint on dry paper. And we also did a bit of wet into wet technique that's just mixing two colors on paper that's already wet or even the same color wet into wet just means you're taking your brush and your dabbing in color into an area that's already wet. And we did a little bit of negative space painting, I would say, because what we're doing here is we're defining the leaves that are in front by painting around them or the negative space around them with darker leaves in the background. Now, as you get close to finishing your painting, just take a look at it from a distance or even take a break from it and look at it a day or two later, you might want to darken some leaves. You might want to define some areas, and it will just help your painting come together if you give it some time to decide if it's really done. I felt that these leaves needed a bit more definition. So after they were dry, I just went over again with just another layer of my green paint. Thanks again for watching. I hope you learned something new. If you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. Um, I will post a supply list and an image that you can trace so that you can start your own painting.