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!
- Straight pen fitted with a Nikko G nib
- Paper (I’m using an envelope from Indian Cotton Paper Co.)
- A pencil (use a white pencil if you’re writing on dark paper)
- Blunt art syringe
- Size 3-ish paintbrush
- Finetec Arabic gold watercolor
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!
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.
Now, use downstrokes to trace over the leaf draft. Reinforce the stem with a thinner stroke and a squished circular end.
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.
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.
When you’re finished, your leaf will look something like the example below.
Now, draw thin, somewhat shaky lines through the center of the “Y” shapes.
Finish up by using light pressure to draw tiny square-ish shapes to fill in the rest of the leaf.
When you finish drawing those little shapes, that’s it! You’re done drawing your “filigree” illustrated leaf. Easy, right?
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 …
… Then trace over the draft with gold ink and add veins and small squares.
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!
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!