How to paint realistic luscious leaves in watercolour with Anna Mason

Hi it’s Anna Mason, and in this watercolour
tip video I wanted to show you my glazing method for painting leaves. This works especially well for painting any
deciduous type leaf which contains lots and lots of veins to it. Like these apple leaves. You may have found these overwhelming to try
to paint and get them looking realistic if you’ve tried them before. Either you attempt to ignore the little micro
veins in them altogether and you end up with smooth, more stylised leaves, or you can get obsessed
adding too much veiny detail and they don’t look right either. So here’s my method for getting the balance
right. I started with a drawing where I marked in
the most prominent of the veins – the central one and the ones coming off of that. When we look at the photo I’m working from,
we can see that these veins are a pale yellow colour and, because they’re pale, I want to
paint them first. And when you zoom right in and look super
closely you can see that this colour is also present in the tiny little veins that come
off of the secondary veins and the even smaller ones that come off of them. But as we’re painting at this size, we don’t
actually need to paint all of those tiny veins. If we were painting the leaf at twice the
size – or even more, then we’d need to add more of these veins in to achieve a realistic
level of detail. But when we’re painting at this sort of size
we just need to create the impression of these smaller veins as we paint. And in addition, those tiny veins are so thin
that they actually appear a shade darker than the wider veins when we’re viewing at this
scale. So what we’re going to do now is to focus on painting the widest of the veins which are highlighted here and they’re easier to see
against a white background. Being widest these veins stand out more strongly
against the darker leaf colour around them so it’s these that we’re going to paint with the yellow mix. I apply the watery yellow colour to the main
veins, not worrying if I paint over the pencil boundary as I’ll be working with darker colours
around the veins to define them later. Next I paint the watery blue-green shiny highlights
to the leaves to make sure that I had those in the right places, before going on to paint
a watery pale version of the main green of the leaves everywhere else, using a small
brush and taking care to work around the yellow of the veins. With that dry I go in with the very darkest
tones within the leaf next. Using a thick dark green mix, I apply with
a small brush, making sure to leave lots of gaps to create the impression of some of the
tinier veins in the leaves. This is something that you can get quick at with
practice but it’s important not to get too formulaic and uniform in your application. It does take a while but it’s so important
for creating realistic looking leaves. Next I water down the mix a little to work
on the darker midtone parts of the leaves too. The leaf is now looking really disjointed
with all those gaps I’ve left standing out way too much. So it’s time to unify them a bit by applying
a glaze over them. For this I use a mix that’s not as watery
as the first ones I used, but more watery than the ones I’ve just been using. I work gently with my brush so that I don’t
disturb the little markings I’d made before. I then use this same consistency mix to create
smaller shapes into the lighter parts of the leaf, just as I did with the thicker mixes
in the darker parts. With that layer dry I’m into the adjustment
phase where I darken the veins again to bring them back in balance, then the darkest tones
again to get them looking right and the lighter midtones again to get them in balance too,
before I apply another glaze over the lighter tones within the leaves to darken those micro
veins some more. After I add a few more adjustments and details
the leaves are finished. A full video class of these apple leaves showing
you what colours I use and each step of the painting in thorough detail, is available
now in my online School. If you’ve enjoyed this tip video, please subscribe
to my YouTube channel and I’d love it if you’d share this video with your friends. And if you’d like to take one of my tried
and tested video classes for free, hop on over to where you’ll find even more resources to help you pick up your brush and
paint the way you’ve always wanted to. Remember, you won’t improve your painting
unless you make the time to paint. So be sure to schedule in some me-time this
week and paint something that you love. Thanks so much for watching and I’ll see you
soon with another tip for creating watercolours with ‘wow’.

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