How to Draw a Leaf: Narrated Step by Step

How to Draw a Leaf: Narrated Step by Step


Hi, Tom here with another Circle Line Art School video: How to Draw Leaf, the first step is to draw a dot where the veins of
the leaf meet, and then from this dot to draw each of the five veins that this
leaf has, looking at the angle of each of the veins, sort of measuring across with
my eye from the actual angles that I can see in the leaf, the next step is to look
and sort of read across where each of these lines should stop, because I’m
trying to draw the leaves the same size as the actual leaf, to make a copy, a
realistic copy, of the same size and I can literally read the lines across, once
I had the structure more or less in place and the next step is to try and
find the outline of the leaf, looking carefully at the shapes I can see
perhaps not really thinking about it as a leaf, just thinking about it as shapes,
which one’s higher than another one, which one is closer or further away and
how one pointy bit of the leaf relates to another point in the leaf, so
trying to make connections in what I see, so at this stage it’s really about
mapping out the shapes that you see and questioning at all times what you see,
not taking for granted that you know, we all sort of know what a leaf looks like,
but when you look at a particular leaf you see all sorts of differences which
are unexpected and they develop over the time of the drawing, the alternative, I
guess, is to just draw around the leaf oftentimes if you draw around an object,
it’s not really the same shape as when you perceive it and you look at the object,
so any of the lines that we want to keep as sharp edges need to be drawn quite
firmly and any of the lines which are more, as it were guidelines for us, when
we come to color it in, they can be much paler and softer in mark, and maybe just
erase any lines which are the wrong strength and then the next step will be
to put some color on, and for this drawing I’m going to use some
watercolors, so over the years I’ve collected quite a few watercolors and
this old tin that I’m going to use has got a lot of colors as pans, so they’re not the tubes that the solid colors that you just mix with
your brush to dilute them to create the watercolor, and then you use the lid of
the tin to mix the colors as a palette and then I’m just going to do a quick
test piece here just to see that I’ve got the right range of colors before I
start the actual drawing… so for this little sketch I’ll just use
some yellow paint first of all, I tend to use a palette which is being quite well
used before, so something like yellow I just need to clean out a little bit, but
I find it very useful to have a palette which has colors which are pre-mixed
from other paintings, because then you have the pans of watercolor that you can
use, but you also have there’s sort of the traces of other colors that I’ve mixed
with different paintings, different recent paintings, so the first step in
this little sketch is just to paint some yellow and then well the paint is still
wet on the paper, to add a little bit of a darker crimson red to this and the
crimson red hasn’t got much water in it because have just painted the paper
yellow and therefore that yellow paint has got water in it, so I don’t really
want to mix any more water and put on top, otherwise it will spread too quickly
in, too fast, you’ll need to just check and see what the paper that you’re using,
how quickly that the watercolor reacts to the paper that you’re using, but the
paper that I’ve got is quite good quality watercolor paper, it is quite thick
and heavy paper, which means that the water in the watercolor will soak in
quite quickly and it will stay damp, meaning that the watercolor can move
around a little bit, as you can see in this little test piece that I’m doing, so with drawing I tend to use just a 4B or 6B pencil and with watercolor I tend to use just to a size 8 brush which
has a round barrel with a point and I find that you just get used to using
just a few tools and then you can get used to really what exactly that they
can do, so this brush for example can do quite a nice flat wash, it can do a
straight line, it can do blending and it can sort of do dry brush, which is where
you get the dotty effect on something which is slightly drier, so
it’s quite a versatile brush and I think my best advice would be just to get too
used to what materials that you have and try and push them around and really find
out what they can do and if you’re really stuck and you’ve got a brush that
really doesn’t work, well then it’s probably time to go out and get another
brush, I tend to find that synthetic brushes work very well for watercolor, so
to go back to our main painting of the realism challenge, trying to draw
leaf just the way it looks, it’s odd but I would suggest that you don’t paint the
colors that you see directly, you try to look for a color that’s underneath the
colors that are there, so this leaf, you know clearly isn’t
white, so I’m not going to use any white with the watercolor paper, I’m just going
to use translucent colors, colors that you can see through, and I’ll start with
a yellow because this sort of slight yellow, that I’m putting on is a color
that’s behind all of the oranges and reds, the autumnal colors that are within
the leaf, so if I put that on first then I know that’s quite a good ground in
which to base other colors on top of, so it’s going the right direction but it’s
not exactly what we want, it’s not what we see as the end result, so you want to
start really with the base color first and when you’re painting with watercolor,
it’s really quite important to make sure that you paint quite fast, so that when
you’re putting down a wash it doesn’t dry on you before you move on to the next
step, so I tend to move the brush around so the edge of the area that I’ve
painted, I’m always going back to that edge and extending it to the
the full area that I want, so the whole leaf gets painted and I don’t leave an
edge to dry, because then I’ll have a line where it’s not needed, where it’s
not necessary, and then once you’ve got a wash of a color, before it’s dry, well
it’s still slightly damp, you can place some more paint on top of it and then
that new paint will dilute to some extent and will blend or bleed into the wash
that you had before and the watercolor in the way will make its own marks so
you can just place the paint on and the watercolor will move by itself, now if
you want to create, later on, for this we’ll need to create some edges and
lines, you need to make sure that the watercolor paper that you’re using is
dry or at least touch dry before you use very fine edge of the brush, to create a
line, now to create a line I would suggest not using a tiny brush, using a
reasonable sized brush, otherwise you’ll run out of paint sort of halfway down
the line, so if you’ve got a brush which can hold a reasonable amount of
watercolor paint, but then it’s got a nice point, then you can just sort of
glide the point along the paper and you’ll create a a fine line, but of
course the actual paper that you’re painting on needs to be dry, otherwise as
fine line will bleed out, so some of the areas in this leaf, they need to bleed
out, so the darker reds need to bleed into the orange, but some of the lines
and then sort of dodgy like things, which are the details that happen towards the
end of the picture, they don’t want to bleed at all, they want to stay pretty
sharp and therefore they need to be done when the watercolor is dry, so a lot of
the technique of watercolor is about the timing of it and although I can suggest
some things here and you can see the way that I’m doing it on this one, you’ll
just have to find out for yourself, because it will depend an awful lot on
the type of paper that you’re using and you’ll just have to get used to how long
the paper that you have will take to dry, how long the paper that you have will
stay wet, how strong are the colors that you have, you
just want to do the closest equivalent that you can manage in a picture like
this… if the autumnal colors of the leaf
are still wet, and then we put a shadow on it, will sort of merge between two, so
I’d like to keep the shadow quite separate, so I just let the watercolor dry for a
moment, and then when I place the shadow on, you can use a soft gray or a payne’s
gray, works very well for a shadow, you can put a little bit of color in the
shadow, but normally it’s best, probably, to mix up the color that you want to use
for the shadow, before you start using it, because shadows, basic shadows like this
work quite well if they’re very flat in color, so you don’t want to add any more
water to the color that you’ve got for the shadow and you don’t want to have to
mix it up halfway through painting it, so you make sure that you’ve got enough to place the shadow and then just pop your shadow in and then you’re done! Thank you very much for watching, please subscribe to my youtube channel Circle Line Art School, where I have many other drawing videos, or you could click on some links
below to see some of my other videos thank you very much for watching and see
you next time bye bye!

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