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Beginners Guide to Watercolor Painting

| Linda McClure
Check out my YouTube Channel for more tutorials!

This is a tutorial on how to paint a very basic leaf in watercolor. 

Check out my YouTube Channel for more tutorials!
Colors I am using:
Mission Watercolors

painting supplies

Set up for leaf painting project

  • Hookers Green
  • Yellow Green (which is really a bright green)
  • Permanent Yellow
  • Red Brown (which is really a darkish brown)
  • Light Red (which is really more of a brownish-red)
  • Titanium White
Leaf to Paint
Leaf from my backyard. When I can't travel, I use whatever I can find!

  1. Draw or trace the leaf shape
  2. Cover leaf area with water. If you saturated a little bit too much you can always take a paper towel and dab it off. I don't even mind if I go outside the lines, but watercolor follows the water, so keep that in mind.
  3. Paint the whole leaf with yellow.
  4. Get your bright green (Yellow Green) and paint up the center. I use a brush called a Rigger, which is a very very long thin brush. Using your brush, drag that green paint from the center of the leaf to the edges in a V to make the vein pattern of the leaf.  Watercolor leaf
    Step 4:Add light green up the middle and along the veins. Let it spread.

  5. Let it dry a little. It should still be damp but you should be able to control the watercolor. Mix some darker green with some of the light green to make an in-between color. Using a small brush, look at where the darker greens are and pull those up following the direction of the veins. Pay attention to where the light areas of the leaf are. Try to keep some light and in each part of the leaf between the veins. However, if the paint runs, don't stress! I never do. Do this on both sides (although the top left of the leaf has less distinction between the veins so I blended the paint). Make sure to keep the middle section free of dark paint. 

    watercolor leaf
    Step 5. Adding medium green to wet leaf and letting it spread

  6. While the leaf is still wet, put more dark into the leaf into the dark areas. I start at the bottom and follow the shadows and darker green between the veins, letting the water do the work. Let the leaf dry.

    Step 6. Continue to blend and add darks to shadow areas.
  7. Mix up a little reddish brown and darker brown. Use the dark brown and paint a thin line around the top edge. Your painting needs to be dry for this to work well. Now add water to the edge of the line and that will thin it out.
  8. Mix a little yellow with white and paint the center line and the veins of the leaf. The white looks really bright at first but it will lighten as it dries.
    watercolor leaf
    Step 8. Add white veins and some highlights at the edges.

  9. Now go blend in some white highlights in areas of brightness.  
  10. Add a shadow to the underside of the leaf. I used a mixture of Hookers Green and Red Brown. 

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