How to Draw a Leaf Step by Step
We see four examples of natural sophistication: a maple leaf, an oak leaf, a fig leaf, and a four-leaf clover. Some leaves have a simple shape that is easy to draw; others have a very complex outline.
I draw the core line of a leaf and the extension for its petiole (stalk), as well as the top and bottom borders of the leaf and the vertical lines it will take when it opens in the autumn, with an HB pencil.
The veins of a leaf are laid out in the shape of a circle, with the core line serving as a reference for the central vein (the midrib) and the base line serving as a reference for the leaf’s veins.
In this week’s Design of the Month, I’ll show you how to design a maple leaf, which has an irregular rhombus-like midrib that connects the leaf’s base, central tip, and two points in the upper part.
Each shape’s sides are not equal on purpose; a maple leaf has symmetrical features, but it will always have some deviations or imperfections.
Don’t be afraid to stray from this basic structure; it’s just a starting point, not a strict constraint.
I add five lobes to the next segment, some of which are sharper and longer than others; variety is important when drawing natural forms.
The lobes of the third segment are drawn.
The next two segments are relatively small, with four pronounced lobes, and I refine the left-hand side of the leaf.
Now I’ll draw the fifth segment’s lobes.
I refine the shapes of the leaf’s lower, additional parts, which usually have only one pronounced lobe (less frequently, two).
I erase all of the subsidiary lines, leaving only the contours of the maple leaf. Now I’ll draw the pattern of the secondary veins that run from the primary veins to the sides, starting with the central vein, the midrib. Some veins are longer and thicker than others, and they usually go towards the lobes.
I add secondary veins to all of the leaf’s primary veins.
Don’t draw all the small elements; our goal is to create just a hint at the details. I add the tertiary veins that branch from the secondary veins; they’re barely visible.
Let’s make our sketch more realistic. Using the HB pencil, I add hatching to the sides of the leaf, as well as darkening the spaces between the primary veins and the veins themselves, and thickening the petiole.
I add more hatches to the leaf to make it more contrasting.
I assess my drawing; it appears unnatural or perhaps too perfect; to remedy this, I use the 3B graphite pencil to add a pattern of semicircles and thick strokes; the drawing now resembles a fallen autumn leaf!
I draw the leaf’s core line (which will serve as a reference for the midrib) and its borders with an HB pencil.
I make an uneven shape that resembles an egg, which will aid in the creation of the leaf.
I use a marker to draw the lobe borders; oak leaves have a lot of asymmetry, so you can be as creative as you want.
The midrib is fine-tuned, and the secondary veins are drawn.
I begin by outlining the petiole and drawing the first pair of lobes on the upper part of the leaf.
On the left side, I draw three lobes, which often have small additional curves that make the shapes unique and even more appealing.
On the right side of the leaf, I draw three lobes.
I add three rounded lobes to the bottom part of the oak leaf.
The pattern of the tertiary veins is drawn; they are very light and short.
I darken the veins and the areas between the lobes with the HB pencil.
I use the HB pencil to add a layer of light hatching and shade the sides of the leaf, and the drawing is finished!
I draw the core line of the leaf and its borders with the HB pencil, including the boundary between the stalk and the petiole.
I add the first segment of the leafu2014it has an unusual shapeu2014and refine the shape of the petiole. Because fig leaves are symmetrical, we’ll draw the left half first and then recreate it on the right side.
I use an organic, uneven contour to draw the secondary vein and outline the second segment of the leaf, which is longer and larger than the first. Pay attention to the fig leaf’s sinus; our goal is to make it prominent.
I draw the fig leaf’s bottom segment, which has a pointed tip.
I draw another part of the leaf, trying to match it as closely as possible to the original; however, allowing for some imperfections will not ruin your work.
Several more pairs of secondary veins are added.
I add credibility to the sketch by drawing a net of thin tertiary veins.
To simulate the texture of fig leaves, I use soft strokes with the 3B pencil, starting on one side of the leaf and darkening the central part and sides. The midrib and secondary veins of a fig leaf should remain light.
I use 3B soft pencil strokes to create the illusion of small folds on the sides of the blade.
I continue to add soft graphite strokes, aiming for a smooth transition of value in the drawing.
We’ll be working on a four-leaf clover in this section of the tutorial; it sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? I mark the central point of the shape and add two directional lines with the borders.
I begin by drawing a tear-shaped element of the first leaf… and then proceed to add the remaining leaves, some of which may overlap.
I make the angular dents to refine the shape of the leaves, which now resemble hearts.
I make a pattern with the leaves; this adds interest and credibility to the drawing.
I start by erasing the pattern’s bordersu2014we want it to be light and hazyu2014and then add a subtle net of thin veins and darken the cores of each leaf.
I use a HB graphite pencil to lightly hatch the leaves, then draw small semicircles to fill in the pattern’s gaps.
I use the 3B pencil to darken the leaf with soft strokes, but you could also use a hatching or random scribbly strokes.
I boost the contrast even more by adding 3B pencil strokes to the leaf tips and highlighting the drop shadows from nearby leaves.
Your Drawings Are Complete
Congratulationsu2014you’ve completed four beautiful graphite pencil sketches! I hope you were inspired by the leaves and enjoyed the process of drawing. For additional practice, I recommend getting some real leaves (or other objects) and sketching them yourself. This will help you improve your observation skills and better understand the principles of shading with graphite pencils.
How do you draw easy shading?
On a separate piece of paper, make a value scale from light to dark. Draw a long rectangle and divide it into 10 equal pieces with lines. Shade the square on one side of the rectangle with your darkest value. Add value to the adjacent square until it is lighter than the darkest value.
What are the 4 types of shading?
Smooth, cross hatching, “slinky,” which can also be called hatching (I think slinky is more fun), and stippling are the four main shading techniques I’ll demonstrate.
Which pencil is best for shading?
While the softer B pencils are generally considered the best for shading, there’s no reason to overlook the harder H pencils. The HB and H are excellent choices for fine, light, even shading, but they, too, have drawbacks. Pencil grades from HB to H, 2H to 5H, get progressively harder and are easier to keep sharp.
How do you make leaf rubbings?
ACTIONS TO TAKE
- 1Collect leaves of various shapes and sizes.
- 2Position a leaf. Place a leaf with its bottom side facing up.
- 3Place paper over the leaf.
- 4Rub a crayon.
- 5Rub over the entire leaf.
- 6Remove the leaf.
- 7Make more leaf rubbings.
How do you draw a realistic leaf?
ACTIONS TO TAKE
- Observe the main veins of the leaf and see how far they spread from one another.
- Compare the right and left sides of the leaf and see where the veins start. Sketch them lightly.
What are the five shading techniques?
Shaded elements include:
- Shadow edge. This is where the object is turning away from you and is lighter than the cast shadow.
- Halftone. This is the object’s mid-gray tone.
- Reflected light. This is a light-gray tone.
- Full light.
What are the techniques of shading?
Here are seven different shading techniques to use in your sketches and drawings.
- Cross Hatching.
- Contour Hatching.
- Tick Hatching.
- Woven Hatching.
- Woven Hatching.