How To Paint Tree Leaves And Trees In Step By Step Instructions

2 November 2023

One of the most tricky part in painting landscapes is the way on how to paint the tree leaves and forest trees. The way on how to execute the strokes can be hard but can be learn upon constant practice. Here I am going to demonstrate on how to paint it the way I did on my landscape paintings.

First we need 2 types of brushes. The pointed round brush number 0 for the trunks and branches, anyway this demo is all about painting leaves. The other brush is the flat number 6 with synthetic bristle. You can see them below.

Then we need 5 palette acrylic colors including the primaries. You observed that I am always using this limited palette colors because I want you to learn mixing them to create new secondary and tertiary colors. One of the most important factors in painting is learning how to mix and create new colors as what I've said. You need Phalo Blue, Medium Yellow, Brilliant Red, Titanium White and Lamp Black.

To start the painting we need to mix paints for the trunk and branches. We need brilliant red and lamp black to create the brown or add a little yellow if you want to. It is still brown but a little flesh like. Then start sketching the trunk and branches using the number 0 round brush as you see below. 

Make sure to make the branches smaller than the trunk. Then start mixing for the dark green color. Use phalo blue, yellow with a little red to make the color green darker. This will be the undercolor of the leaves. The dark part or shaded part. 

Mix it well using the number 6 flat brush. Dip the tip on water if it feels like drying and hard to make it wet and flows smoothly on canvas. Tap it carefully on the area you want to add the leaves with a quick dot-like-strokes. 

The result should look like the photo above. If you have a reference you can follow the form of the leaves. Don't scatter the leaves, form it like you group them. 

After that mix for the leaves' highlights. It should be light yelowish green as you see below.

Phalo blue, medium yellow, titanium white and a little red to make the highlights. The white will make it lighter than the background color.

Then apply the highlights on top of the leaves. Just tap it slowly to create such effects. Make sure you don't over do it. Do it One by one until the paints looks like the real leaves. When you judge your works make sure you are atleast 0.5 meters away from it to see if it works.

Add the higlights on the part facing the sun. Mine is on the top left side so all the highlights are on the top left.

The result should look like the photo above. 

Then below I am going to demonstrate on how to paint the forest trees. You only need to repeat the method above but no need to add the trunk and branches unless you want to put some visible branches on forest, that would be much better.  Same color and you only need the number 6 flat brush. 

First you need to mix for the dark green color like I did above. It's the mixtures of phtalo blue, medium yellow and little red. 

Apply it like you just playing the paints to form group of trees. The result should look like the photo below.

Then mix for the highlights the same when I created the light yellowish green above. Phtalo blue, medium yellow, titanium white with a little brilliant red.

Then apply it carefully on the top leftmost sides of the forest. The same technique when I created the highlights of the leaves' higlights which was shown above. 

I know it's hard at first but constant practice will make discover and learn the way on how to paint it. It's kind of tricky but I tell you I am a self-taught artist and I learned it by discovering how to apply with constant experimentation that takes months and years. Those times I had no internet and youtube. I am living in a third world country that's why I was so late in using the computers and internet. 

Let's go back to the demonstration, continue doing the highlights and the results should look like the photo below. 

Adding more highlights and also the final results.

You may check the video tutorial here:


Painting tree leaves, bushes, vegetation and grasses are all tricky because you need to find the right brush and need to learn on what's the proper way on executing it. Flat brushes or fan brush can be hard when you don't know how but it is only hard at first and when you keep on painting and experimenting. You will discover things and learn it on your way. So keep doing it, practice will make it perfect!

Do you want to become a youtube artist? You may check this tips.


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