• Stunning + Simple Filigree Illustrated Leaf Tutorial

    Even those who don’t consider themselves artists will be able to take on this easy filigree illustrated leaf tutorial. Once you make one leaf, you can’t help but draw several more … they’re that pretty (and simple)!

    Stunning + Simple Filigree Illustrated Leaf Tutorial

    With the help of gold watercolor, a “filigree” illustrated leaf is surprisingly simple to draw! The leaf illustration can be used to enhance a number of projects, from mail art to sketchbooks to greeting cards. In today’s tutorial, I’ll walk you through exactly how to draw one.

    1. Gather Your Supplies

    You’ll need a few key supplies to make this illustrated leaf. See the list under the photo for details!

    Supplies for Stunning + Simple Filigree Illustrated Leaf Tutorial

    2. Make a Pencil Draft

    First, use your pencil to make a very simple leaf outline with a single vein running through the center. Be sure to draw a stem, too!

    Pencil draft of leaf illustration
    If you’re making this illustrated leaf on dark paper, use a white mechanical pencil to draw the draft. Otherwise, any pencil works.

    3. Trace Over the Outline With Gold Watercolor

    Now, use a blunt art syringe or a small spoon to apply a few droplets of water to your gold watercolor pan. Let the water sit for a minute or so, then use a small paintbrush (approximately size 3) to mix in the water. Then, use the paintbrush to apply the watercolor on the back of your Nikko G nib.

    Using Finetec Arabic Gold Watercolor
    To watch a video of this process, see the How to Write Gold Calligraphy With Finetec Watercolors article.

    Now, use downstrokes to trace over the leaf draft. Reinforce the stem with a thinner stroke and a squished circular end.

    Gold Leaf Outline
    To make these thick strokes, apply moderate pressure as you’re drawing to encourage the nib’s tines to split apart.

    Once you’ve drawn over the draft, draw two thicker areas on the right side of the leaf to represent a slight edge curl. Then, draw three or four thick diagonal veins on each side of the center vein.

    Gold Illustrated Leaf Outline

    4. Add Delicate Strokes

    Next, use light pressure to draw thin, upside-down “Y” shapes between all of the diagonal veins. Make sure the “Y”s have a bit of shake to them … they shouldn’t be perfect.

    Gold Illustrated Leaf Outline
    The Nikko G nib is perfect for this tutorial because of its capability to make thin strokes.

    When you’re finished, your leaf will look something like the example below.

    Gold Illustrated Leaf Outline

    Now, draw thin, somewhat shaky lines through the center of the “Y” shapes.

    Gold Illustrated Leaf Outline

    Finish up by using light pressure to draw tiny square-ish shapes to fill in the rest of the leaf.

    Gold Illustrated Leaf Outline

    When you finish drawing those little shapes, that’s it! You’re done drawing your “filigree” illustrated leaf. Easy, right?

    Stunning + Simple Filigree Illustrated Leaf
    The process behind drawing this leaf is refreshingly simple.

    5. Draw More Leaves! (Optional)

    Once you draw one leaf, it’s difficult not to keep going! The process will be the same for any leaves that you draw: start with a pencil draft …

    Stunning + Simple Filigree Illustrated Leaf

    … Then trace over the draft with gold ink and add veins and small squares.

    Stunning + Simple Filigree Illustrated Leaf

    If you’re in the mood for pretty snail mail, draw your leaves on an envelope. Then, add calligraphy and pretty stamps. Voilà: a gorgeous envelope that will catch many eyes on the way to its destination!

    Stunning + Simple Filigree Illustrated Leaves Envelope Art
    I used Kaitlin Style calligraphy and Bleed Proof White ink to write the address on this mail art. For tips on finding cool postage stamps, see this article.

    I hope that you feel inspired to try your hand at making one of these lovely filigree illustrated leaves! I encourage you to experiment with different inks and leaf shapes. Metallic watercolors give these leaves an especially stunning look, but this tutorial is one that lends itself to experimentation. Enjoy!


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