Watercolor Leaves: Painting Leaves in Different Styles | Irina Trzaskos | Skillshare

Playback Speed

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

Watercolor Leaves: Painting Leaves in Different Styles

teacher avatar Irina Trzaskos, Watercolor Artist & Illustrator

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

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Mixing Colors


    • 4.

      Autumn Leaves in Ink and Watercolor


    • 5.

      Gingko Leaf in a Painterly Style


    • 6.

      Glazing Techniques


    • 7.

      Painting a Branch with Leaves


    • 8.

      Whimsical Leaves


    • 9.

      Last Thoughts


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

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 the Class!

Leaves are a very popular topic in art and watercolor leaves can make a beautiful standart piece or be complementary to other art subjects.

In this class, I will show you different techniques and styles of drawing and painting watercolor leaves.

The class is suitable for beginners. 

This class is geared toward designers, illustrators or nature sketchers who use watercolor or are attracted to watercolor media.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Irina Trzaskos

Watercolor Artist & Illustrator

Top Teacher




See full profile

Level: Beginner

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

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: Hi everyone. My name is Irina Trzaskos, I'm an artist in Illustrator. Welcome to my studio explorer, the magic of watercolor. In today's class, we'll be painting water color leaves in different styles. Leaves are a beautiful subject to paint. You can use them as a stand alone art basis or in composition upon other subjects. In today's class, we'll be mixing different colors depending on the seasoning you want to shade your leaves in. Also we'll explore different shapes and styles for our watercolor leaves. I hope my classes will help you build a beautiful and successful portfolio. In the next detour, I'll show the supplies we'll be using in this class. Let's get started. 2. Supplies: In this class, we'll be using the following supplies. Watercolor paint, watercolor paper. I'm using constant cold press but you can use any brand you like, watercolor palette to mix the colors, a paper towel, a pencil, and eraser. Also we'll need a fine liner for our ink and watercolor leaves. Just make sure it's waterproof. I'm using sharpie fine liner. Also we'll need the wide gel pen for some details, water of course. We'll need a medium watercolor brush. This is Kolinsky sable number 4, and the small watercolor brush. This is Kolinsky sable number 2. If you're painting bigger leaves, then we'll need bigger watercolor brushes, also some round ones, and we may need a flat synthetic brush. You can find a list of supplies in the project section of the class. In the next video, we'll be mixing colors for our leaves. 3. Mixing Colors: So depending on the season, we'll have different colored palettes for our leaves. For example, for Autumn, we'll be using cadmium yellow indeed. To make it more natural, we'll mix it with some purple. Also, I'll be using some golden orange, cadmium orange. If you don't have golden orange then you can just mix cadmium orange with yellow and it's the same color. Carmen red. We'll be mixing it with orange, but a warmer shade. Also, I'll be using burgundy and purple. If we'll mix some golden orange with a little bit of purple, then we'll get a beautiful brown that you also can use. For summer, we'll be using cadmium yellow, yellow-green, also mixed with yellow, a regular green, and Prussian blue. For winter palette, we'll be using cold shades. So we'll go with turquoise. It's so bright so we'll mix it with some cadmium orange, just a little bit. It'll make it colder and some gray in it. Also, we can use some ultramarine blue and purple. If we want to have dark greens like for hollow leaves or mistletoe, then we'll mix some regular green with ultramarine blue. So this is the regular green with ultramarine. For spring colors, we can use really subtle shadows of yellow mixed with a little bit of ultramarine or greens. Also, we can mix some cadmium orange with Carmen red, and dilute with a lot of water. For peach, really gentle tones. Also, you can use some yellow-green, and Prussian blue. For branches, we can use sepia. These are the colors we'll be using for our leaves. 4. Autumn Leaves in Ink and Watercolor: In this video, we'll be drawing and painting leaves in ink and water color. For ink, we'll be using a simple fineliner, just make sure it's a waterproof one. We'll start with some construction lines for the leaves, I'll be drawing with pencil the thicker lines, but you can draw really fine lines for construction lines. We'll start with a really simple leaf and then we'll get to more complicated ones. Let's start with the elm leaf, it has this elegant simple shape like this. Next, we can outline it with a fineliner and just edging this beautiful edge characteristic for this leaf and it gets smaller too here. You can add your middle line and from here you can add some more lines if you want to or you can just color it, we'll be coloring them all later. This is a very simple elm leaf, let's get to more complicated ones. The next one will be maple leaf. We'll start with construction lines again. You have to draw one line, then two more like this and two more shorter. Then between these two lines, we have to make a little arch in here and smaller arches here, and here. Next, we can start drawing with our fineliner. What we'll do, draw a little leaf and we'll outline this arch. Another little leaf until it gets you this arch and so on, then the same way with the second half and the stem. This is our maple leaf. Now let's try to draw an oak leaf. We'll start with the middle. This is the length of our leaf and somewhere in the middle will be the widest part, so we'll draw one line and then another one and then two shorter ones. You see they're not at the same level, one is higher, one is lower. By them, two short ones too and two small. Next, starting from the top, we can draw it like this and then we'll go in our arch, around the lines we just draw. Just in a wavy outlines and again, all around lines and here is our stem. This is an oak. What if we have a scarlet oak? Then we'll do the same drawing as for the oak. I'll decide where is the middle, so right here. We'll draw two wider lines and two more, two small ones. Then we'll repeat the same like for the maple tree, drawing like this but around these lines. This is our scarlet oak. Next comes the fun part, we have to add colors to our leaves. For these ones, I'd like us to go as colorful as we want. We'll start with some cadmium yellow for our elm. You can erase the pencil lines if you want or you can leave them. Again, you don't have to add the color on entire leaf, you can go as loose as you want. I sometimes like to leave some white spaces and while it's still wet, we'll add some orange to it. Why not? To this part to blend in with some burgundy in here. Maple leaves I'd like to do carmine with some cadmium orange. We'll start with cadmium orange. Again, if you are getting outside the lines, it's totally fine because this is loose sketch style with ink. Even some burgundy here, it works so beautiful. Add some more orange. You can do it as vibrant and colorful as you want. I'd like some green in this oak leaf with some yellow. I think we can add some green in here too, just have fun with it. Next, I want to add some carmine red, a little bit and then again yellow and green. You can even add some splashes for more fun. For our scarlet oak, I would like it to be burgundy, with some purple and maybe a little bit of orange. It's so dark. Add some carmine red at the end and some cadmium orange. I feel like elm still needs a couple of touches for more brightness. These are our leaves in ink and water color. As you see, we went with Autumn color palette. 5. Gingko Leaf in a Painterly Style: Next, let's paint the leaf in a painterly style. I decided to paint a Gingko tree leaf. I'll start with the stem. This leaf will be in summery colors, so the stem is Prussian blue, and then I'll paint the bottom of the leaf, also Prussian blue. Next I will take some yellow-green, and I'll start shaping the leaf. Let's add some yellow to my yellow-green, and more water. You can choose any leaves you like for this exercise. If you have a more complicated leaf, like a maple leaf, you can make a sketch first before you start painting. From here, we can start the next leaf. Just drag some water paint up. This is the bottom of the next leaf. Some yellow-green with yellow, and you can keep going as long as you want. Very easy painting this stuff. Of course, you can always add some splashes. 6. Glazing Techniques: Now let's paint a leaf in a realistic style exploring the glazing techniques. First of all, draw the leaf. I did a light sketch but I'll do it in thicker lines so you can see it too. This is a fig leaf. You don't need to do such a thick line sketch over a light sketch would work the best. For this style is important to show these lines on the leaf. However, we'll be working in layers and its really important to let the layers dry between each other, and so I'll be taking breaks between the layers. Also if you see your water is getting dirty, you can change it while taking a break to let the layer dry. You can pick any type of leaf you like. I decided on fig leaf. This is enough. Next touch we'll do we'll start on the first layer. I'd like my first layer to be yellow with a little bit of golden orange, so these warm colors will shine through other layers. First layer has to be really transparent with a lot of water, really light. Let's now add some green in it mixed with some yellow, and again, really watery. Realistic looking paintings look complicated but actually they're pretty easy just they need some patience to let the layers dry. It's a easy step, just fill the entire shape with water wash of yellow, green, and orange. Now I have to let it dry. When our first layer is totally dry, we can start painting the second layer. So what we'll be doing, we'll be filling this spaces between the lines without touching the line. I'll mix some yellow-green with a [inaudible] blue. Again, we'll dilute it with a lot of water. It won't be as watery as first layer, but still it will be pretty watery. Let's try not to touch the lines and just fill these spaces between them. You can make beneath the rashes more interesting with a [inaudible] quantity of blue and with green on every part. Think I'd like some more blue in this corner. I'm getting a smaller brush so I can control it better. Let's just fill in all the spaces between lines on the leaf. It doesn't matter that they are a little bit different in color. It's dognifying and it's even making it more beautiful, and the same way the entire leaf. Don't let it dry again, it's very important. This step requires precision and patience as the most impressionist paintings in glazing techniques. Now let it dry, and if it's necessary, change the water and wash the palette. After of a second lead in dry, we need to erase all pencil lines, especially there's vikas line. Often we erased all the pencil lines to construct more colors and depth to our leaves. I'd love to see some purples and the blue print in my leaf because it's a fig leaf. I'll make some prussian blue with purple, and you'll start edging some shades too many leaves. You can add some groupings here and there. I'm not covering the entire area of leaf I painted before, just a part of it. Also add some lines like this. Because our leaf are less to dry between if we see our colors are not mixing. Of the green underneath stays there. You can keep adding in this menu layer since you want. Just don't forget to leave some areas where the previous layer uncovered. Color a bit pink, more interesting and don't overlap on these allied layers. This is our third layer, and then also it could be a final one. But we'll add a few more details after it dries. Let me shadow here. After three layers, our leaf is looking pretty interesting. But I'll also would like to emphasize where the light is coming from, so light is coming from this direction. I'd like to make this some parts of the leaf a little darker and cooler. Then I'll mix some prussian blue with some yellow green, and a little blue, and I'll add them this side a little darker and details. I said you can keep drawing as long as you want and what layer you add [inaudible] here and they'll be okay. If it fills some of these lines are too bright, then you can cover it with a little of a bit greece. The last step, we have to add some shadow. I'm taking some ultramarine blue with a little bit of cognitive orange and a little bit of shadow. On this side my layer is still wet, some until no more bleeding, so this is outer fig leaf in glazing techniques. 7. Painting a Branch with Leaves: Now when we know how to paint all kind of leaves, let's try to paint a branch with leaves and to see how we can use watercolors transparency to our advantage, while painting leaves. I'm taking some turquoise and I'll mix it with some [inaudible] orange. Maybe I'll add a little bit of Prussian blue tint. Now, I'm diluting it with a lot of water. We'll start with a branch. I'd like to paint a silver and dollar eucalyptus branch. I'm starting with a little of water, just leaf shapes, like we did during painterly style. While our leaves are still wet, we can add more colors to them. I think some purple in here, oops, this is ultramarine blue. A little bit of green. Now I would have to let it dry. Now let's let it dry. After our branches totally dry, we'll take the same paint and we'll add some more branches and leaves. But we'll overlap them partially with existing leaves. We can notice this beautiful transparency. Because for this leaf, you can see the previous one. You can do it as many times as you want. This will bring more dimension and a depth to our art paintings. 8. Whimsical Leaves: In this video I want to show you how to add some whimsical details to your whimsical leaves. Say if we have leaves like these ones, we can add some water into them, especially if we feel like they're too white comparatively with other leaves we have. We use this [inaudible] to add and be like this middle line, and then we can add some side lines which are just like a natural pattern for leaves, and then we can make a thicker line, and then a small line, and again a thicker line, and really fine line. I said we can add some dots, and the line again, and few more dots, and the line again. We can add some dots here. Also on the portion of the leaf or an entire half of the leaf we can add some lines along the leave, like this. I don't have to be perfect. Now what we can do is just add some spots. I've got some purple in here, [inaudible]. We can just play with it and add some more spots. That's how we planned it. We can have waves of dots. You can add any patterns you feel like, circles and dots triangles. If you have darker leaves , then you can use white Jackpen on like wash Make a dotted line along the leaf. What we can do with white wash on a darker leaves is to start on the middle line again, and then we can draw smaller leaves inside the leaf. It could be a field or empty inside, and again, we can paint some lines. Some dotted lines along look pretty interesting too. We can paint lines on the entire leaf or circles. I can't wait to see what details you'll be adding to your leaves. I'm sure you'll come up with your own ideas. I can add some white in here too, and of course, we always can add a branch with berries to bring more interest into our painting.These are our whimsical leaves. 9. Last Thoughts: Thank you for watching my classes. I hope you had a chance to paint with me. If you like this class, please leave a review and upload the project to [MUSIC] Project Section on the class. I can't wait to see your beautiful leaves. See you in my next class.