Introduction to Botanical Art - Eucalyptus Leaves
4.8 (14 ratings)
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Introduction to Botanical Art - Eucalyptus Leaves

Suitable for beginner or intermediate artists, you will learn to paint a botanical watercolour of Eucalyptus leaves.
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4.8 (14 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
44 students enrolled
Created by Cheryl Hodges
Last updated 6/2020
Price: $64.99
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 4 hours on-demand video
  • 7 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • To paint eucalyptus leaves in watercolour.
  • The equipment needed for botanical watercolour painting.
  • Different watercolour techniques to build up your painting.
  • How to fix mistakes on your painting.
  • How to complete a detailed painting of your own.
  • Some basic equipment is required and can be found in the preview video.

I teach botanical and insect illustration and through this experience I've learnt the problems that you might come up against when you first start out with watercolour. I will walk you through the whole process from beginning to end. We'll cover basic equipment required, setting up your specimen, sketching, tonal study, transferring the image to your watercolour paper, and then the real fun begins. We'll go through building up your painting from wet in wet, all the way to dry brush to add those final details at the end. Along the way I'll include lots of tips and techniques to help you learn to paint Eucalyptus leaves, and these techniques can be applied to other subjects.

Who this course is for:
  • Beginner and intermediate watercolour artists interested in botanical art
Course content
Expand all 27 lectures 03:49:15
+ Introduction
1 lecture 02:48

I'm a botanical artist living near Canberra, Australia and I teach botanical and insect illustration. I love sharing the joy of botanical watercolour painting. Every time I paint a new plant, I learn something about it. I feel that botanical art gives people a new appreciation for nature, and for that subject in particular. I have learned about so many plants just from seeing them in paintings. Once you get your eye in and start looking at the details in them, you will be viewing plants in a whole different way. This tutorial is suitable for complete beginners, but intermediate students may also be interested in learning about the way I approach botanical painting. I hope you enjoy this tutorial!

Preview 02:48
+ Preparation and Observation
6 lectures 35:17

Welcome to my first online tutorial! I love Eucalyptus leaves, they are an iconic Australian subject, easily recognised and loved. I will show you my method of painting these leaves of the Eucalyptus leucoxylon species, and you will learn many fundamentals of botanical art along the way.


I'll talk about the importance of using a live specimen, and the ways that you can arrange your specimen in preparation for drawing.


It's important to get a detailed sketch of your chosen plant on sketch paper before you transfer it to your watercolour paper.


A tonal study of your specimen is very useful to refer to while you're in the painting process, so I'll talk about lighting and how to get the basics down before moving to the next stage.

Tonal Study

Once you've completed your drawing, it's time to transfer it to your watercolour paper. There are several methods of doing this, and this is the easiest, using a window or lightbox.

Transferring your image with a lightbox or window

When you have completed your drawing, it's time to transfer it to your watercolour paper. This is another method of doing this, it is more time consuming than the window, but good for detailed drawings. I have included written instructions in the previous lecture which you can download for future reference.

Transferring your image using tracing paper
+ Painting
10 lectures 02:23:50

I have found during my time teaching, and my many years painting, that the consistency of the paint is a crucial factor in watercolour painting. Here I will show you how to mix colours on your palette, and the consistency of the paint required for wet in wet, wet on dry and dry brush work.

Paint consistency

The first painting technique I will demonstrate is 'wet in wet' - wetting the surface with water, then applying paint to that area. It is a valuable technique which can be used extensively in botanical art, especially for covering larger areas. Here I will be painting in the blue highlights on the leaves.

Wet in wet - the highlights in blue

I'm going to mix some greens here, and I'll show you how to test these and then compare to the actual leaf. It's not always a case of blue and yellow makes green, you may need some other colours too, and in nature there is always variation.

Mixing green

I will continue here with the wet in wet technique, this time applying the green mix, and showing how you can build up layers of paint, with the paint soaking in to the paper.

Preview 23:26

Now that I have the base layers down, I'm going to work on one leaf using 'wet on dry' technique. I will build up more colour, starting with a watery mix, and gradually the paint applied will have less water and more pigment. Also included here is mixing of browns and greys using only two colours.

Working up the colour and texture on a leaf

Moving on to another leaf now, this one is much darker so I will show you how to mix and apply a 'shadowy mix'. Then more work on building up this leaf with the wet on dry and dry brush work.

Shadow mix on leaf

This leaf will once again be built up with wet on dry and dry brush, and I will also talk about how to hold your brush.

Another leaf, and how to hold your brush!

I've saved this leaf for last - it is fiddly and tricky, and will challenge your eyes and your hands. Because this leaf is behind two others, you will need to be very careful about working around those leaves, and making the whole leaf flow even though you have to work on each area separately.

A tricky leaf, behind the others

Step back and look at your painting as a whole. Compare the light and shade on each leaf. Where do you need to touch up? Do you need more shadows? Do you need to lighten anywhere? Are there messy areas that need tidying up? And of course, there are always more details to add, especially little imperfections on these Eucalyptus leaves.

Touching up

Oh the colours in these stems! So rich and red. Although they are not very wide, I will discuss how to paint the light and shade on stems. Also refer to the 'light and tone' document which illustrates light on stems and rounded objects. They are not perfect though, so more imperfections should be added to the stems.

+ Final Touches
3 lectures 12:34

Almost done! Place a border around your painting and you will be amazed at how good it looks! This can also help you decide where to sign your work. So surely you're finished... or are you? There is stretching to do, but after that you will find that I have made another revelation.

Finished. Or am I?

When we use so many washes on a painting, the paper will often buckle. Don't fret - there is a solution. Here I walk you through the simple process of stretching paper to make it much more presentable.

Buckled paper? We can stretch it.

I did say take a look at your painting over a few days to see if there's anything else you need to add. And now I've found I do need to make one more change to my painting. A cast shadow, or two - with dry brush. I will also add some words about signing the front and back of your painting. Time to call it - it's finished!

Really finished
+ Troubleshooting
5 lectures 28:07

This leaf has a hard edge around the margin. Here I will show you how to correct that.

Troubleshooting - hard outline

We often have areas of our painting that we have overworked. This leaf has too much pigment sitting on top, and it's just a bit of a mess. I'll show you how to take it back to a stage where you can carefully finish it off.

Troubleshooting - hard edge within a leaf

When we are working with very wet paint, the pigment will sometimes spread to the edges and form a hard line. Sometimes this is OK, for example if it's the edge of a leaf. However, often we don't want it, and I will show you how to soften those lines.

Troubleshooting - lost highlight

If you have gone a bit too dark with one of your leaves (or other subject) and feel that you have lost the highlight, you may be able to get it back. It may not be as light as the other highlights, but if you look at a tree with lots of leaves, there are different highlights depending on where the light is hitting the leaf. Here I show you how you can lift some of the pigment to bring a highlight back.

Troubleshooting - messy, overworked leaf

I wish I could say my spills on this painting were deliberate, but they were not. Sometimes they just happen. I do recommend protecting your work with paper. However, it's good to know that these spills can be cleaned up to a certain extent. Here I show you how to remove the paint with a brush and/or sandpaper, and how to smooth the paper afterwards. Don't scrub too hard!

Troubleshooting - cleaning up spills
+ Conclusion
1 lecture 01:27

Thank you for joining me! I hope you are happy with your progress and your painting. Remember, you have your own style, unlike anyone else's, so just work with that, and keep practicing!