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Tropical Leaves in Watercolour

Welcome to the new blog! In today’s video and post, I am doing a study of tropical leaves in watercolour.

You can still watch today’s video for more details and examples:

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*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post contains affiliate links from which, at no additional cost to you, I earn a small commission from.

Tropical Fern

For our first leaf I am using a pointed round brush so I can use the tip of the brush to create the stem first. For the individual leaves, I begin pulling the brush towards me, dragging the belly of the brush across the page to create the organic and natural leaf shapes. Using the tip of the brush again, you can make them pointed on either end. I finish up the fern by thickening the stem and refining the leaves.

Tip #1

Use all of the different parts of the brush. The pointed tip is perfect for the stem and the belly of the brush can be used for filling in bigger areas. Together they can create these small leaves that bulge in the middle.


For this one I have started with a pencil outline so I have a guide for the oval shape and the indents. Then I erase it so I have a very light outline left to work with.

I start with the stem again with the tip of my brush and then start filling in that outline. Make sure to leave some holes near the stem and use the tip of the brush for the edges and the nice fine points. For a leaf this big, I use a couple of different green paints. By grabbing from a few shades, they blend together for a more natural look that melds together on the page. While it is still wet, I add a darker green near the centre that blends out to look more organic.

Variegated Tropical Leaf

I have created a very light green, adding some white and grey into the paint as the base for this one. I mark the centre with the tip and then use the belly of the brush to expand it out. Dragging the brush and letting the paint flow out creates a natural shape even though I won’t know what it will end up being.

Tip #2

To mix a dark green, try adding dark blue. You can experiment with black, brown or even a dark purple to create a natural green for the leaves. If it doesn’t look dark enough when you use it, try taking more paint from an area on your pallet that is not as wet.

Using the dark green, add these extremely dark green patches. I use the belly of the brush on the page to create these splotches along the length of the leaf. By letting the brush just hit the page they are random and natural by not overthinking it they are imperfectly perfect. The last thing I do is use the tip of the brush to refine the shapes and add some points.

Banana Leaf

Again, I use the tip of the brush to create the centre stem and a pencil to create a guide for the shape. This time I fill it in with lots of little lines. Using lots of individual lines we create the texture of the leaf, leaving some negative space and some indents to capture the imperfections of the banana leaf.

Tip #3

By adding a pencil perimeter you can fill in the leaves without losing your shape. With the monstera, I was filling using the belly of the brush and it makes it easier to keep the indents and holes in mind. With the banana leaf, I am filling it in using the tip of the brush so it can be even easier to lose that shape without the original guide. Always erase it after you draw it so you have a very light outline that won’t show through the paint.

Finishing Touches

Another tropical fern with these long fronds in the dark green is created very similarly to the first. I run the belly of the brush across the page and use the tip to finish off each leaf with a little point. This time I have some fun wiggling and bending the brush a little to create some wobbly and natural leaves.

To finish off the whole page, I add some light pink leaves to create a beautiful soft contrast. With the extra dark green, I add some simple veining to tie it all together. You can use any colours to finish off the tropical leaves study and it will look great have fun experimenting and mixing the colours.

Thank you for checking out the new blog!

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Sep 03, 2020



Michelle Walker
Michelle Walker
Jul 04, 2020

The leaves are lovely but I don't see the water colour paint pan available at all through the link provided.


Mala Kanojia
Mala Kanojia
Jul 04, 2020

Thankyou so much ma'am for sharing your art they are lovely .


I was super excited to see in today’s tutorial that you announced you have a website now with a BLOG! Awesome! Great blog post, love how you set up today’s post, with the step by step, the awesome tips, and the photos. I hope you know Shayda (and Chris) how much we appreciate YOU both in the Watercolor Art World! You guys are an amazing team! Thank you so much.


Carol Wetherington
Carol Wetherington
Jul 03, 2020

Thank you - I love how simple you make it.

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