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Watercolour Leaves

Video Duration: 25 mins

Estimated time to complete the lesson: 2-3 hours

(pause video as needed to complete steps, but please complete at your own pace)

This tutorial is recommended for adults and children 10+.

Use watercolour or gouache to create a realistic study of leaves, either from your own garden or mine.

  • be guided step by step

  • learn valuable skills

  • design an attractive composition

  • learn about colour mixing, layering and detailing with watercolour

  • pick up handy tips



  • Watercolour paper, 300gsm

  • Watercolours (or gouache), primary colours
    and white

  • Watercolour palette

  • #6 round brush

  • #0 round or short liner brush

  • Water

  • Pencil 

  • Eraser

  • Paper towel

watercolour leaves trailer_Moment3.jpg
watercolour leaves trailer_Moment2.jpg
watercolour leaves trailer_Moment.jpg


REMEMBER – there are no rules, don’t be afraid of experimenting!

These are my tips, to be used as as a guideline for creating this particular work, in conjunction with the video. Pause the video after each step and then complete that stage at your own pace. You can always go back to gain clarification on a particular aspect of the process:

  • DRAWING - pressing as lightly as you can (hold your pencil away from the end to help you press lightly)
    draw the main outline of your leaf, leaves or stem. Do as little as possible so that the pencil line does not
    overtake the painting. Don’t add any details such as veins or shading. If you have pressed too firmly and
    your pencil lines are too dark, use your eraser to rub them back a little.

  • MIX YOUR COLOURS - whether you’re using watercolours or gouache, you need to prepare the colours
    now. This is important, as once you start painting you will work quite quickly and don’t want to stop to mix
    colours. Look at your subject closely and decide what colours you need to mix - you will possibly need
    yellows, green tones, possibly some browns or rust colours, depending on the colours in your particular

  • PAINT THE BASE LAYER ON THE LEAVES - work your way around, one leaf at a time. Start each leaf by
    firstly adding water, and then dropping colour into the wet area. Refer to your subject for where the colours
    and shadows appear on each leaf. Try not to make each leaf the same - keep varying them so that they
    look more natural. Let this whole layer dry before moving on to the next step. Letting it dry naturally (and not
    using a hair dryer) as best if you have the time.

  • ADDING THE VEINS - don’t make the mistake of just painting the veins on as lines and leaving them to sit
    on top. We want the veins to look like they are part of the leaves. Start with a line, but then use a clean,
    damp brush to blend away one side of each line so that it looks like part of the space, rather than just a line.
    Work your way around every leaf, adding veins and shadows. Again, refer to your subject for the areas
    where veins and shadows are strongest, and where at times they are light and barely visible. Adjust your
    approach to show this natural variation.

  • ADDING THE STEM & OTHER DETAILS - you may need to mix a slightly different colour for the stem. Do
    this and then paint a line as the base coat of the stem. Pay attention to the minor lumos and details in the
    shape. Let this dry. (Note - I also used this colour to base the underside of my leaves). Once the stem (or
    other areas) are dry you will come back and add shadow or variation. Whilst waiting for the stem to dry, add
    more shadows in and along the edges of the leaves that are now dry. Look for small details and blemishes,
    if any.

  • ADDING WHITE - put out a small amount of white, adding just enough water to make it flow. If you add too
    much water the white will disappear once it dries. Add this to any areas where you see light reflecting.
    Some areas might be stronger than others. Use a clean, damp brush to blend away the edges of the white
    where needed. You may choose to leave some without blending edges, particularly if they are a strong
    reflection of light that might occur on a shiny leaf.
    NOTE - every subject is different. Look at your subject closely for the information you need. .


QUESTIONS: Please feel free to send me an email at

Happy Creating!