Leaves are such versatile symbols of nature and are very telling of tree types and seasons. In other words, leaves can inform your painting and take your art to the next level! In this article, we’ll walk you through the basics of leaf drawing in seven steps.
1. Get Inspired
The first step is always research. Look up leaves on Pinterest and other sources. You might not even have to look far if you’re a plant parent yourself, as they can be all the inspiration you need.
You’ll come across different plant types, find handy references, and get your creative juices flowing! We’ve decided to draw a maple leaf, but we’ll help you draw almost any leaf shape.
2. Draw the Petiole, Midrib, and Main Veins
Start with the center, and make your way out. Use an HB pencil if you can. Firstly, draw the petiole, the core line that attaches the leaf to the branch. Secondly, sketch the midrib or central vein as an extension for the core line.
Thirdly, add six primary veins on each side of the midrib. Note that these vein lines should start at the midrib-petiole intersection, and give them a curved or wavy shape for a more natural-looking leaf.
If you aren’t drawing a maple leaf, you can deconstruct your plant leaf shape. To do that, count the number of primary veins it has, and consider how straight or curved they are.
3. Create the Outline
Now, the leaf’s main veins will help you draw the outline. Note that a maple leaf is composed of five main parts. To make the one at the center, add two points on both sides of the midrib. Then, connect these points with the base of the leaf and midrib’s tip in an irregular rhombus.
Now, you’ll create similar shapes for the remaining primary veins (except the two shortest ones at the leaf base). To illustrate, add two points on each central vein’s sides, and connect them with the vein line tip. The only difference is that the leaf base should only connect with the lower dot. As for the upper one, it should be joint with the leaf part by its side.
And don’t worry! We haven’t forgotten the two veins at the bottom. Just use them to create two notched elements, completing the outline.
Ultimately, each side of the shape won’t be the same, and the overall leaf shape will have a somewhat symmetrical design. But don’t fixate on making it perfect because that’ll only make it look unnatural.
For those who aren’t drawing a maple leaf, you can deconstruct the leaf similarly. Does your leaf have multiple sections? If it does, how many many sections are there? Where do they connect? These questions should help you understand how to draw the outline.
Do you feel that these instructions are too detailed for you? Feel free to skip drawing the subsidiary lines and draw the outer shape.
See also: How To Draw a Tree
4. Draw the Lobes
For this step, you want to add the lobes that define the leaf’s shape. So, draw three upper lobes and two lower ones for each leaf part; that’d be five each, except for the bottom two leaf sections. Since these two are small, you can create four lobes for each. As for the two notched elements, turn them into pronounced lobes or two lobes each.
If you’ve skipped drawing the subsidiary lines, draw a line around the central veins and midrib by copying the reference leaf’s outer shape. Because an actual leaf is irregular, you should make some lobes sharper, curvier, thicker, or longer than others.
As for anyone drawing a different leaf, look at your reference picture. If your leaf is sectioned, how do these sections’ outer lines look? Are they mostly straight, curved, zig-zag, or else? Can you liken them to a shape? Use these questions to sketch the outer shape of the leaf.
With the leaf’s outer shape done, you can erase the subsidiary line if you have them.
5. Create the Secondary Veins
From the midrib, create secondary veins in thinner lines than the main one. Most of them shouldn’t connect to the outer frame. Still, you should make some thicker secondary veins that reach the lobes.
Then, draw more secondary veins from the primary ones in the same way. Also, you can apply the same concept to many leaf types.
Read also: How to Draw the Sun
6. Add the Tertiary Veins
Tertiary veins are optional, but these finishing touches are critical if you want to make your leaf look way more realistic. You should draw the tertiary veins protruding from the secondary ones and make them so thin that they’re barely visible.
For anyone drawing other leaves, depending on their shape and size, you can decide if you want to add tertiary veins or not.
7. Color or Shade
If you want to color your maple leaf, you can make it green, red, or yellow. In fact, it’s better to use several colors and transition between them smoothly for a realistic effect. Use pastels, colored pencils, or any media you prefer to bring your leaf to life.
For shading, you can add hatching to the leaf sides and darken the primary and secondary veins. Also, thick strokes can make your maple leaves look more natural.
See also: Cool Things to Paint for Beginners
The Final Touch
Congratulations! You’ve now learned how to draw a maple leaf and almost any other leaf type. Although you can follow this guide precisely, it doesn’t hurt to go off-script! So, don’t hesitate to dive in, make mistakes, take your creative liberties, and add all the final touches you want.