Maple Leaf Step by Step Painting

Maple leaf is such a beautiful illustration subject! When I was a kid I collected maple leaves every fall foliage season. There were especially good and big ones in the Summer Garden in my home town - Saint-Petersburg. And, frankly speaking, I still do this!)

So let’s try to paint maple leaf step by step!

1. Pick a leaf for reference.

Bright yellow maple leaf

First you'll need a large and beautiful or small and kinky maple leaf - it’s up to you. Just find the leaf that is attractive or inspiring to you.

2. Then make a pencil drawing.

Outlining watercolor maple leaf

Either use your imagination or if you are complete beginner, just place your leaf on paper and copy it’s contours. It’s gonna stay between us!;) Don’t make strong and harsh lines, otherwise they will shine through your watercolor layers.

3. Choose your color palette.

Mixing watercolors

From lemon yellow to purple. You have a really broad range to play with. There could be no mistake! I’ll just name a few:

  • lemon yellow

  • cadmium yellow

  • orange

  • yellow ochre

  • red

  • green

  • purple

Small tip: don’t mix more than three basic colors in one mixture to avoid dirty look.

4. Make the first layer.

Watercolor maple leaf step 1

Moisturize the paper by putting clear water to all leaf’s surface. When the paper is still wet ( but not too wet) begin to apply colors- they will mildly mix through creating a beautiful coloration. Just have fun!

Small tip: stop when you feel paper starts to dry.

5. Second layer- deepen the colors.

Add darker tones where the main shadows are.

6. Third layer - deepen the colors more.

Repeat until you're pleased with the overall tone.

7. Add details.

Check your contours. They should be firm but not like an outline. Add the stem and veins.

8. Add some texture.

Maple leaf stem detail

9. Cheer yourself!

Finished watercolor maple leaf