How to Draw a Leaf Easy

Wondering how to draw a leaf? Well, you’ve come to the right place. The first thing you may be wondering is, should you even bother learning how to draw a leaf? It’s so simple and basic, right? Well, not exactly. From a distance, leaves might look like a roughly triangular, fairly plain-looking objects.

But, when you get in closer, you start to see the structures, you see the veins, and you’ll notice how intricate the patterns are. Leaves are fascinating when you look at them up-close, and they are a worthy subject for any artist to draw. Not only are leaves amazing to draw, but there’s also so much variety.

There are many different types of leaves, and no two are the same. You can also look at leaves in different stages, from fresh green ones in the Spring to old withered ones in the Fall. There’s a lot of variation, and when you look at the details and focus on them, you’ll see that leaves offer a wealth of interest.

How to Draw a Leaf Easily
How to Draw a Leaf Easily

Leaf Drawing Step By Step Tutorial

What’s the first thing that you should do when drawing a leaf? Well, it’s the same thing that you should do when drawing anything. You should break it down into its essential components. A leaf has a roughly triangular shape, so start there, light sketch out a triangle. Next, sketch out the placement of the stem and the central veins.

Clover Leaf
Clover Leaf
  • Heart shape leaf
  • Maple Leaf blade
  • Clover Leaves
  • Simple Leaf
  • Abstract Leaf Design
  • Symmetrical Leaf
  • Leaf with Branches drawing
Heart Shaped Leaf
Heart-Shaped Leaf

Follow this Drawing Lessons How to Draw a Leaf

This is the basic structure that you’re going to build everything else on top of. One of the nice things about drawing a leaf is that the basic structure is pretty simple, so you can sketch it out quickly and then get down to the fun part, rendering details and shadows.

If you are want to learn how to illustrate natural forms in watercolor and ink take a look at this online course by Laura McKendry, Illustrator, and Artist. Click here to visit Domestika

Drawing a Maple Leaf Blade

If you’re going to draw leaves, starting simple is the way to go. But, if you’re impatient, and many artists are, then why not jump into something more challenging? While all leaves share similarities, one leaf is easily recognizable by its silhouette.

Maple Leaf
Maple Leaf

That leaf is the maple leaf. When drawing most leaves, you want to start with a triangle, then add or subtract forms as needed. But, maple leaves are different. When drawing them, you want to start out with a rectangle.

Start with a rectangle sketch, then sketch in the stem placement and the prominent veins. Once you have these structures in place, start to refine the shape by sketching out the pattern of the leaf. A maple leaf has five roughly triangular shapes that are a part of it, each of these should fit inside the rectangle, which is why you sketched that out. Once the basic structure is drawn out, you can remove the rectangle and render it in detail and values.

Drawing Natural Forms

Draw a Simple Leaf
Draw a Simple Leaf

Among the many reasons that drawing leaves can be so rewarding is that it gives you practice drawing natural forms. Natural forms are unique because they have such a wide variance. Unless you’re dealing with twins, you won’t find two people that look identical.

You won’t find two identical snowflakes, and you won’t find two leaves that are either. They may have very similar structures, but since they are natural and grow as a part of a living thing, they will vary. It’s this variation that will challenge you and help you to grow as an artist.

How To Begin

How should you start drawing a leaf? The first thing you need to do is choose what kind of leaf you want to draw. While fresh green leaves are delicate, if you get an old, withered leaf that has died and fallen off of a tree, you’re going to end up with a lot more exciting textures to explore.

Once you’ve chosen your leaf, the next step is to choose what materials you’re going to work with. You can draw a leaf with any artistic medium that you want to. You should choose one that suits what type of final look you are going for.

If you’re drawing a Fall leaf, you may want to work in color since the colors of Fall leaves are often very striking. If you want more precision, you can use ink, and if you want to work with more of a general shape and impressionistic style, charcoal or pastels may be a good option.

Once you’ve chosen your leaf and materials, you start out like anything else you will draw. Observe your subject, look at the shapes, light source, and leaf structure. Sketch out the basic shape of your leaf, then start to refine the image until it looks like your subject.

Drawing leaves may not seem that challenging when you first sketch them out, but it’s not the overall structure that will be hard for you to master. It’s the fine details that will challenge you.

A simple black sharpie marker can also provide the artist with a strong visual design and bold outline drawing.

Begin With A Straight Line

While leaves are natural forms, and in most natural forms, there isn’t a straight line, with leaves, this isn’t necessarily true. The center stem is usually fairly straightforward. Is it perfectly straight?

No, but it’s close enough that you can use a straight line as a starting point. From there, you can make adjustments to the line to accurately depict the stem of the leaf that you’re drawing. Then you can add the outer structure, followed by the veins.

Sketch the Leaf Framework

Leaf Framework
Leaf Framework

Once the initial shape has been finished, you should sketch out the framework. What is the framework of a leaf? It’s the veins! Every leaf is slightly different, so pay attention to these minor differences.

Will someone looking at your drawing know if you were accurate? No, but half of the fun of drawing a leaf is getting all of the little details right. You don’t have to be perfect, but remember, practicing drawing more specific subjects like leaves can help you tackle more challenging subjects in the future.

Leaf Tip

When drawing the tip of a leaf, you may be tempted to draw a perfect point, and you could be right, or you could be wrong. Do some leaves have sharp points at the tip? Yes, but not all do.

This is especially true when drawing an older leaf that has started to decay and is exposed to the elements.

Leaf Margin

The leaf margin is the area around the edge of a leaf. All leaves have margins. Some are wider than others. The margin of a leaf can be identified because the veins and other structures won’t be present.

Leaf Shapes

When drawing a leaf, don’t overthink things. They have a simple shape. Is there variation? Of course, but that still doesn’t make it complicated.

Just focus on getting the fundamental shape right, then start building on it. If you don’t have the basic shape right, no amount of rendering will make your leaf drawing look good.

Leaf Lobes

What are leaf lobes? Lobes are the projections of a leaf. They stick out from the leaf, causing it to not have a perfect triangular shape. Some leaves, such as the maple leaf, have very distinct lobes, while others lack them altogether.

Depending on the type of leaf you are drawing, you need to be careful when drawing the lobes because they can be very distinct, such as in a maple leaf. If you don’t get them right, then the overall look of your leaf won’t be right, which will ruin your drawing.

Drawing Veins Radiating Outwards

When drawing the veins in a leaf, it’s essential to consider what they are there for. Much like our veins, the veins in a leaf are there to provide nutrients to the leaf. Because of this, they radiate outward.

They are a lot like a river that branches off. How can you accurately depict this in your drawing? You do it by starting with the main stem then branching out. As the veins spread further from the main stem, they get smaller, so make sure to draw them this way.

Drawing Maple Leaf Shape

What can you do to ensure that you have the right shape of your leaf? Well, if you’re drawing from a leaf and not a photo. You can always lay the leaf on top of your sketch to check for the basic shape.

Another fun thing you can try if you are holding a leaf is to lay it down on your drawing table, place a sheet of paper over it, then rub your pencil. This creates an etching much faster than drawing a leaf, but it also removes all of the challenges.

Drawing A Maple Leaf In Different Styles

As an artist, you should always be looking to push the envelope, try new things, and experiment with new styles. This is true whether you paint portraits or draw leaves. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Try using color! Trying to paint a leaf in watercolor or in oil. Try using mixed media! Just try different things until you find something that works for you. When you do, you can stick to it, or you can keep experimenting and trying to push the boundaries of your skills and your artistic style.


Ian Walsh is the creator and author of and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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