Learn adorably cute and simple art

How I paint leaves, trees and foliage

Posted by Carlianne Tipsey on

If you've ever struggled getting texture and depth in your planty like paintings here are the tips that have helped me the most! I actually learned this first tip from watching the Sleeping Beauty extras. Eyvind Earle shared his process and it has been a game changer for me! 

Control Details

Okay so before we get into the step by step.. steps :). I want to remind you that details fade as they go into the distance. So if you are going to paint something far away you don't need to add as many little leaves or whatever, just keep it simple! 

Here are some examples of how I use details close up and far away.

Step by Step

I like to paint trees, hair and fuzzy objects a little differently than flat or smooth objects.

So when I paint plants I start with the shadow color first (instead of what it's main color is).  That way when I paint over top of the dark layer, any areas I "miss" will be dark and shadowy instead of light.  This instantly makes depth in your image! 

Then to create depth in my color, I add yellow to the light areas and some blue to the dark areas.  Now the tree isn't a flat green but has some variety. (I love it so much).

Then at the very end I add little details like individual leaves for flowers.

Don't be shy to play with colors:

I'm sure you absolutely never felt like you *had* to draw trees as green, with brown trunks, but I for sure felt stuck that way as a beginner artist.  I realized over time that professional artists often push color away from what we first think to make more interesting paintings. Because if you look at real life, there are trees with white trunks, or orange leaves etc. Plus, if the light outside is more orange or more blue (like at sunset or at night) then the color of your objects will totally change.  Here's some examples!

See how they still all look like trees? It's okay to play with the unexpected.

Vary shapes and sizes:

A good rule in design is that if they shapes and sizes have variety it'll feel more natural and organic. But when shapes are repetitive in size or spacing those items it'll feel more organized, and more man-made. So if you want your plants to look more natural, try making sure each little leaf has a little personality and varies in size and shape.

I made these as procreate brushes because it makes it a lot faster for me to paint that way! I've added them to my shop if you'd like them too. If you want to make your own just make sure you turn on scatter, rotate and that you can control the size with pressure sensitivity.

Get my brushes here

Let me know if you have any questions or if there are other topics you'd like me to cover next!

~ Carlianne Tipsey



1 comment

  • Great tips! I love playing with tree textures and pushing the colors.

    Jeremy on

Leave a comment