How To Draw A Basic Leaf

Prior to beginning this tutorial on "how to draw a basic leaf", you may want to review how to draw a grid.

  • It's a good idea to roughly place a drawing grid on your paper before beginning.
  • Grids become useful reference points to assist in understanding where to place your lines in relation to one another, as will be illustrated.

Sketch all of your lines lightly, as some of them will be erased later.

Sketch The Grid Lines

Start by lightly drawing a grid on your paper.

  • Sketch three horizontal lines each spaced 1 and 1/2 inches apart (illustrated by the dotted arrow line).
  • Sketch six vertical lines each spaced 1 and 1/2 inches apart.

Place Dashes on the Grid

  • Place four dashes on the grid (illustrated by "B"s).
  • Place a dash where the stem will end to help with sketching it long enough (illustrated by "E").
  • The length of the leaf is 4 and 1/2 inches in length without the stem--or three grid lengths.
  • The leaf with the stem is 6 and 3/4 inches in length--or four and a half grid lengths.
  • The width of the leaf is 3 inches--or two grid lengths.

The dashes will be used for additional reference points to show where the widest and longest points are located.

Sketch The Curved Lines On The Top . . .

  • Begin at the widest part where the top dash is located, at "B".
  • Sketch a curved line to the tip, at "B". Pay special attention to the "negative space" (illustrated by "C").
  • Finish by drawing a curved line to the end of your leaf, at "B". Pay special attention to the "negative space" (illustrated by "D").

Sketch the curved lines on the bottom, just as you did for the top

  • Begin at the widest part where the bottom dash is located at "B".
  • Sketch a curved line to the tip.
  • Finish by drawing a curved line to the end, at "B".

Sketch The Stem

  • Sketch the stem's curved lines downward toward the dash at "E".
  • Take notice of the stem in relation to the grid lines (illustrated by "F"s).

The stem is about half the length of the leaf. Since it is so much narrower it doesn't appear that long to our eyes, therefore it can be common to not sketch it long enough.

TIP: Placing a dash where the stem ends (in the instructions above) will help with making sure you draw it long enough.

Finish The Stem and Veins . . .

Notice Negative Space

When you are learning to draw a basic leaf, take notice of the space located between your curved lines and the grid lines. This is  "negative space" (illustrated by "A"s).

Negative space gives a reference to see where your lines are to be placed.

Include The "Bulges" at the Stem's End . . .

  • There're usually two little bulges (the top one is smaller than the bottom) on the top and bottom of the stem's end (illustrated by "C") where it was attached when growing.

TIP: Details such as these make a difference in the quality of your finished drawing.

Sketch The Veins Roughly

This is the time to roughly (and lightly) sketch the side veins (illustrated by "B").

Draw a Basic Leaf with Creative Leaf Veining . . .

  • Sketch "wavy" (or erratic) lines around each vein you previously drew.
  • Sketch wavy lines along both sides (illustrated by "A"s and "B"s).

Shade And Highlight Around Each Vein

  • Erase the lines in the middle of the veins.
  • Keep the middle of the veins highlighted with white.
  • Shade around the "highlighted" parts.
  • Shade from darker to lighter alongside each wavy line, going lighter the farther away you are.

The shading around the wavy lines gives the illusion that the veins are raised.

Shade The Stem

  • Shade both edges of the stem, leaving the middle highlighted (by leaving the middle white).
  • The light shines more on the top part than the bottom, therefore shade darker on the bottom part of the stem than the top.
  • Leave a smaller highlight for the top bulge and a larger highlight for the bottom bulge.

And now you have leaf veins and a stem that has the illusion of being three dimensional on a flat piece of paper.

Creating art and crafts builds new neural pathways in your brain and is a great way to keep your noggin healthy. Keep creating for optimal brain health!


~~~Samantha Mariah

Now that you have learned how to draw a basic leaf, you can easily move on to more advanced drawing tutorials . . .

Leaf with one curl

Leaf with two curls

Learn how to draw a leaf that is twisted!

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