We love painting watercolor leaves – they can be used as part of a painting of watercolor flowers or used as the main focus of a picture in their own right. There are endless varieties of leaves to paint, whether you choose to paint garden plants, house plants or head out into nature.
Painting leaves can help you develop a real appreciation for the natural world and it can be a very therapeutic pastime. You can work from a picture or using your observational skills – or you can freestyle and come up with leaf patterns from your imagination.
You can paint loose and flowing watercolor leaves or add lots of details for a realistic look. Experiment with different techniques to develop your watercolor painting style. You don't have to stick to greens or browns either – feel free to play around with different colours, patterns and textures too.
In this guide, we'll be looking at different leaf varieties you can paint with some simple watercolor leaf tutorials to follow. We've included some very easy watercolor tutorials for beginners alongside lessons for more experienced painters, plus we've included a mixture of written and video tutorials for you to explore.
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Looking for more watercolor painting inspiration? Take a look at our watercolor painting ideas, easy watercolor flowers tutorial, watercolor portrait tutorial and galaxy watercolor tutorial for some easy projects to try at home.
If you're new to watercolor painting, we'd recommend reading our watercolour painting for beginners guide and our watercolor pencils guide. Explore our best watercolour paints guide to stock up on supplies.
Featured image by Pexels/Cyrel Manozo
17 best watercolor leaf painting ideas
1. Watercolor eucalyptus leaves
Watercolor eucalyptus leaves look beautiful and delicate, but they're much easier to paint than you might think. In this watercolor leaf tutorial, the talented Rebecca de Winton shows you how to paint your own eucalyptus painting.
2. Realistic watercolor leaves
Isn't this painting incredible? This detailed sycamore leaf painting has been created by botanical illustrator Lizzie Harper, who has created a step-by-step tutorial to teach you how to make your paintings look this good. Try her botanical illustration of a sycamore leaf tutorial.
3. Watercolor fall leaves
The fall is a wonderful time to get into a new watercolor project and we love this stunning watercolor fall leaves tutorial by Shayda Campbell. In this tutorial, she shows you how to paint an array of watercolor autumn leaves in different styles and shades – perfect for a cosy weekend painting session. Take a look at our fall painting ideas for more seasonal inspiration.
4. Realistic watercolor fall leaves
Want to paint more realistic watercolor fall leaves? In this watercolor fall leaves tutorial, you'll learn how to build up layers of paint to create a tonal leaf that looks very striking.
5. Mixed watercolor foliage
If you're looking for a variety of watercolor leaves for a project, this is a really great tutorial to try. Shayda Campbell demonstrates a range of leaf watercolor shapes in different colors for you to copy. This is a good lesson to watch if you're new to watercolor painting and you're not sure where to begin.
6. Simple watercolor leaves
When you're using watercolor paints, sometimes the simplest designs are the most striking. Why make things over-complicated? In this watercolor tutorial for beginners, Caitlin Sheffer will show you how to paint leaves the easy way.
7. Modern watercolor leaves
Loosely painted watercolor leaves have a really modern look! They don't need to be accurate or realistic either. In this tutorial, Marie Boudon, author of DIY Watercolor Flowers, shows how you can paint modern watercolor leaves. We love the beautiful colors she's chosen for these leaves – play around with different colors and see what works for you. Adding hints of blue or yellow can be very effective.
8. Elegant watercolor leaves
If you want to paint some flowing watercolor leaves, try this elegant watercolor leaves tutorial by artist Peggy Dean. You'll learn how to create both opaque and translucent leaves and improve your brushwork along the way!
9. Forest foliage
Take your leaf watercolor paintings to the next level by painting a whole forest scene! Painting foliage in a forest requires a different approach to decorative watercolor leaves. In this how to paint trees and leaves tutorial by Sandrine Pelissier, you'll learn how to build up a woodland scene step-by-step.
10. Relaxed watercolor leaves
This watercolor leaf tutorial is really beginner-friendly and easy to follow. Alisa Burke demonstrates how to paint relaxed watercolor leaves with this easy guide. This is a great project to try if you're looking for a quick painting session and you don't want to create anything too detailed or fussy. You can find lots of beautiful tutorials over on Alisa's YouTube channel too.
11. Watercolor palm leaves
Tropical leaves can be lots of fun to paint and palm leaves are particularly satisfying – you can paint lots of long fronds which look stunning. In this video, Jess Engle guides your through the basic techniques that you'll need to paint your own watercolor palm leaves.
12. Watercolor monstera leaf
You don't need to forage outside for leaves, house plants come in a spectacular array of shapes, sizes and colors. The monstera plant has amazing leaves to paint, with interesting shapes to explore. Artist Jess of leuro.com.au explains how to paint watercolor monstera leaves step by step.
13. Watercolor ferns
Watercolor ferns are so delicate and beautiful – you can paint them on their own or combine them with different kinds of forest foliage. Watch the video tutorial by Nianiani on YouTube to discover how to paint different kinds of ferns and boost your painting skills at the same time.
14. Watercolor leaf wreath
Not sure what to paint? You can't go wrong with a wreath! This watercolor wreath tutorial by Dawn Nicole is a good introduction to leaf watercolor painting for beginners. You can embellish it with your choice of flowers or experiment with different leaf shapes.
15. Watercolor holly leaves
Glossy watercolor holly leaves can look incredible on a Christmas card or as part of a festive wreath painting. However, painting shiny leaves can be challenging. The good news is that artist Rachel Toll has put together a brilliant tutorial to show you how to paint holly leaves and make them look realistic – perfect for all of your Christmas art projects!
If you're looking for more festive art ideas, take a look at our how to draw Santa, how to draw a Christmas tree and how to draw a snowflake tutorials.
16. Detailed watercolor leaves
The more details you add to your leaves the more realistic they look. These watercolor leaves painted by Anna Mason are absolutely incredible – and you can learn to paint them too!
17. Watercolor leaf border
Watercolor leaf borders are brilliant for adding to the edges of wedding invites, or you could write your own inspirational quote in the middle of the page. Learn how to paint your own beautiful leaf borders with Emma Jane Lefebvre.
We hope you enjoyed these leaf painting tutorials! Looking for more art inspiration? Explore our how to use oil pastels for beginners guide, beginner's guide to gouache and acrylic painting guide.
If you enjoy watching art TV shows to improve your skills, check out our guides to Grayson's Art Club, Sky Portrait Artist of the Year, Sky Landscape Artist of the Year and Watercolour Challenge.