How To Draw Leaves

The Ultimate List of resources for how to draw leaves with pencil, pen, colored pencil, art markers, watercolor, acrylic painting, oil painting and more!

Looking for how to draw leaves? We found the best online resources based on your choice of medium and difficulty level! We included online step-by-step tutorials and instructional videos that we felt were particularly helpful. Bookmark, pin, share or save for later!

If you want to learn how to draw leaves, you should first recognize each of its elements.

Understanding these basic elements will allow you to decide what you might want to embellish or omit in your leaf drawing.

Before we get to the list of resources, we listed the elements to consider when drawing. See how creative you can get! If you are looking for how to draw a tree, check out that post.

FUN FACT: The longest leaves can be found on a Raffia palm. Leaves from this tree can grow up to be 82 feet long and almost 10 feet wide! Crazy, right?


ANATOMY OF A LEAF: ELEMENTS TO CONSIDER WHEN DRAWING

STRUCTURE

The leaves on a tree may come as a single blade or as a compound with multiple blades on one main steam (called leaflets).

Are the leaflets in a pair? A row? Is there a terminal leaflet? A terminal leaflet is one that grows at the very end of a twig.

SIZE

The size of the leaf will depend on the structure of the leaves on the tree. If the tree has multiple leaflets per stem, they tend to be smaller in size. As mentioned in the fun fact above, leaves can grow to be as long as 82 feet and as wide as almost 10 feet!

SHAPE

The shape of the leaf can vary in many ways depending on the type of tree. Wikipedia has a visual chart on the various leaf shapes that exist.

Is the leaf more round or more narrow? Does the shape pinch at the tip or at the base?

Are there multiple lobes like on a maple leaf? Leaf shape can also be damaged by insects that chew through them creating a round serrated appearance from bite marks throughout the leaf.

EDGES

What are the edges of your leaf like? Is it completely smooth all the way around? Is it rigged? Does it have sharp, serrated edges? Maybe your leaf is spiny with sharp points.

FOLDS

Leaves can also be folded or rolled in different ways such as in certain palm leaves. 

It can be fold upwards, downwards or parallel. You’ll have to use different shades to illustrate how the lighting creates shadows with the leaf’s folds.

SURFACE

The surface of the leaf can vary as well. Leaves can be smooth, hairy, leathery, warted (gross), sticky covered with secretions (even more gross), or even scaly like the leaves of a Norfolk Island Pine. 

The texture of the leaf can be portrayed by using either a different color or a different pencil/pen stroke technique.

VEIN PATTERN

Sometimes, the vein pattern on a leaf is visible. These veins exhibit intricate patterns across the surface of a leaf. Veins can be displayed as a few shades lighter or darker than the surrounding leaf color.

COLOR

The color of the leaves will depend on the season. Typically, trees are more green and vibrant during the Spring season and gradually become duller in color through Summer.

In the Fall, leaves can turn into an array of oranges and reds until it finally becomes brown and ultimately falls off of the tree for the Winter.

Not all trees will go through this cycle as there are many species that do not exhibit this color change in the season.

LIST OF RESOURCES

PENCIL & PEN

ONLINE GUIDES

Beginner (Easy)

How to Draw a Maple Leaf (WikiHow) – Easy step-by-step using 2 methods
How to Draw an Oak Leaf (DrawingHowtoDraw) – Easy 4-step illustration
How to Draw Laurel Wreaths (TPK) – A variety of leaves in the form of wreaths
How to Draw a Fern Leaf (DrawingTutorials101) – An easy guide for fern leaves

Intermediate (Moderate) 

How to Draw Leaves on a Branch (DrawingHowtoDraw) – Step-by-step for leaves from branches

Advanced (Hard)

Student Nature Journal for Drawing Trees (LessonsforHope) – A printable sketch journal for trees
How to Draw Leaves on Trees (ArtInstructionBlog) – Detailed instruction for foliage
How to Draw an Oak Leaf on Stipple Paper (John Muir Laws) – Advanced detailed instruction

VIDEOS

How to Draw a Leaf (Howcast) – Easy to follow along instruction
How to Draw Leaves (Alphonso Dunn) – Absolutely great instruction on drawing leaves
How to Draw Realistic Leaves (TylersArtShack) – Drawing realistic foliage on trees
How to Draw Curling Leaves (John Muir Laws) – Demo for foreshortening leaves
How to Draw an Acanthus Leaf (WoodcarvingWorkshop) – Drawing an acanthus leaf



COLORED PENCILS & MARKERS

ONLINE GUIDES

How to Draw Leaves with Colored Pencils (MyNatureBook) – Step-by-step guide for coloring
How to Color Leaves with Copics (TheOddGirl) – A short visual graphic on coloring leaves

VIDEOS

How to Draw Leaves with Colored Pencils (eHow) – Easy demonstration with colored pencils
How to Draw Leaves with Colored Pencils (Prismacolor) –  Includes blending techniques
How to Draw Leaves with Aqua Markers (Gee Massam) – Using watercolor art markers
How to Color Foliage with Copics (AnniesCraftVideos) – Coloring a tree’s foliage with Copics
12 Blending Techniques for Leaves (ChertheFire) – Using colored pencils


WATERCOLOR

ONLINE GUIDES

How to Paint Leaves in Watercolor (Craftsy) – 9 different ways to paint leaves
Painting Leaves (Botanical Art) – A great resource with multiple videos for large variety of leaves

VIDEOS

Painting Leaves (Botanical Art) – A great resource with multiple videos for large variety of leaves
How to Paint Leaves (Angela Fehr) – Demonstration using 3 methods for drawing leaves
How to Draw Tropical Leaves (Vera Ush) – Watercolor demo 3 types of tropical leaves
How to Draw a Realistic Oak Leaf in Watercolor (TheMindofWatercolor) – Great watercolor demo
How to Paint a Realistic Leaf (Anna Mason Art ) – A time-lapse with audio instruction


ACRYLIC & OIL PAINTING

ONLINE GUIDES

How to Paint Curling Leaves (JackiKellum) – Using colored pencils and cream paints
How to Paint Leaves on Trees in Oil (OilPaintingwithEthan) – A text-heavy guide for oil painting
How to Paint a Single Leaf with Oil (Jacqui Blackman)  – A short step-by-step guide for oil paints
How to Paint Leaves in Acrylic (Backwoods Cottage) – A short guide for acrylic painting

VIDEOS

How to Paint a Leaf (John Magne) – A time-lapse using acrylic paints
10 Types of Leaves (Meghana’s Gallery) – An acrylic paint demo for 10 types of leaves
How to Paint Leaves (Pamela Groppe) – An acrylic demonstration for 7 types of leaves
Oil Painting Foliage Techniques (Fabri Flora) – An episode of PBS’ “The Beauty of Oil Painting”


OTHER MEDIUMS

VIDEOS

Chinese Brush Painting of Lotus Leaves (Virginia Lloyd-Davies)

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