• Shayda Campbell

How to Draw Autumn Leaves


Today I am sharing my process for drawing Autumn leaves like oak, maple, and many more. Right now it is Autumn in Canada and it is a beautiful time of year - it is crisp and cold, and there are falling leaves everywhere. We do a lot of botanicals and this one is great for beginners with a step by step process.


To follow along with me watch here:


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I am working in my watercolor sketchbook today and sketch every leaf in pencil first. For the oak leaf we start with the centre line and a feather shape around that line. You can see in the photo how I used this shape as a guide to draw the leaf again with the funny little indents. After, you can add some little veining, some acorns and go over the final shape with the Pigma micron.


I am using the Pigma Micron .08 today because I want to create a really graphic drawing that I could maybe add some color to after. I always wiggle the pen a little so none of the leaves look too perfect and more natural. If you make a mistake, just go with it!



For the maple leaf, our guide consists of a center line, two small ovals for the bottom, and three larger ovals for the top. Once the guide is in place I give each oval section a couple little points and connect them. Once you get rid of some of those messy lines you can add veining in the center. After I'm happy with the leaf I just go over it in pen.


It is really hard to sit down and draw something out of nowhere. In most of my videos we begin with a pencil guide that gives you the basic form. Setting yourself up with a guide is a huge part of the illustration process.



The rest of our leaves are a little more simple. Still working in pencil, we create guides of the basic forms, a little more detail in pencil and then we go over it all with fine liner. If you follow along in the video you'll see how I move the page around, add line shading and more detail in pens as we fill up the page.


For our heart shaped leaf it is as easy as that - a center line with a heart before adding the little teeth around the outside. The fern I create by adding individual little leaves along the center line, eventually letting the little leaves follow stems as you work your way down the center. When I go over it in pen I only trace the outside creating the long fern-like leaves. Our last is the easiest of all with matching pairs of oval leaves coming off of our center stem. That is a super simple one but it always looks good. I decided this wouldn't be complete without adding a little stem of berries as well.


After erasing all of my messy lines I am ready to add some color! You could use chalk pastel, colored pencils, crayons, or watercolor if you used proper watercolor paper. I thought it would be fun to add some messy color in watercolor.


These illustrations are very graphic, they are thick black lines and don't leave anything to the imagination. With the watercolor I am leaving a lot of negative space, being messy, I am having fun and being more illustrative with it. The clear forms are already there so I don't need to add more detail with the paint. I added splashes of color to give this an even more Autumn feel. Of course, if you prefer, you can always just leave this in classic black and white.


Hope you are all enjoying Autumn and have some fun with this!


© Shayda Campbell 2020

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