Watercolor Berries and Leaves Painting Tutorial
Hello, I am Denise, a watercolor artist, and illustrator at Denise Anne, and this is my first guest post for Dawn Nicole Designs! Today I am happy to share with you a step by step beginner watercolor tutorial on how to paint a branch with bright berries and leaves.
In this tutorial, we will go from drawing to finished watercolor painting together. You will be able to download a printable sketch of the berry branch used for this tutorial below so you can do the tutorial with the same illustration, or you can sketch your own! I have also included a full materials list at the end of this watercolor painting tutorial.
There is also a video tutorial at the end of the post.
Materials used in this tutorial
I recommend sketching initial drawings on regular text weight printer paper. This way you can make adjustments and erase lines without damaging the more expensive, soft watercolor paper.
- Light Pad (I use this one)
- Cretacolor Cleos Fine Art Graphite Pencils (used the 2H Pencil)
- White Eraser
- Arches Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper 140 lb.
- Standard text weight printer paper for sketching
- Water dropper with a bottle (optional, but I love using them to wet my paints)
- Mijello Airtight Watercolor Painting Palette
- Princeton Heritage No 4 Round Brush
- Princeton Heritage No 2 Round Brush
- Princeton Heritage No 4 Bright Shader Brush
- Holbein Watercolors Set
- Paper towels
- Water cups for rinsing brushes
Get started with this tutorial by downloading the sketch to trace on your watercolor paper.
How to Transfer the Sketch to Watercolor Paper
To transfer our sketch to watercolor paper, I use a light pad and lightly trace the design using my 2H graphite pencil.
If your tracing lines are too dark, use a white eraser to very gently lighten your trace. The trace should be as light as possible, but still visible so you can see the outline of your design while painting.
You can also erase as you go, but make sure you remove lines where you will be painting because some paints will trap the pencil marks and then they cannot be removed from the watercolor paper.
Setting Up the Paint Palette
If you want to use the same colors I did in this tutorial, here they are! The paints I used in this tutorial are from this Holbein Watercolor Paint Set.
For the orange color berries we will be using:
- Quinacridone Scarlet
- Vermilion Hue
- Jaune Brillant No. 2
For the leaves and stem we will be using:
- Shadow Green
- Sap Green
- Hooker’s Green
Add the paints to your palette and add a few droplets of water with a water dropper or a brush. Using your brush, blend the water with the paint for each color separately, making sure to rinse the brush out in your water container, so you do not mix colors.
Start with Painting the Berries
Begin painting your berries first with a very light wash of Jaune Brillant No. 2, leaving the color light at the bottom and dropping in extra color at the top of each berry.
Any berries that are behind another should be painted a little darker by using more color and slightly less water. Make sure the berry in front is dry to keep it light in color; this will give depth to the painting.
Your watercolor berries should look like this after painting with Jaune Brillant No. 2.
After lightly coloring the berries all at the same time they will be dry, and that is okay. If you want to add more color on any of the dried berries, you can paint a very slight layer of clear water over the berry. Then load your brush with watercolor, dab it off on a paper towel to release some water, and use the wet on wet technique dropping in color until they are well blended.
Painting Tip: When painting with watercolors, paint in layers going from light to darker colors, deepening them as you go.
Deepen the Paint Colors for Each Berry
Now we are going to establish each berry one at a time and deepen the colors by painting each one using Vermilion Hue, layering the watercolor on top of our light Jaune Brillant No. 2 we already painted.
To add more color interest, while your berry is still wet from adding Vermilion Hue, along with the edge of the berry, add in some Quinacridone Scarlet.
Remove any extra water or unwanted color with a dry flat shader brush (one of my new favorite brushes).
Remember if you ever add in too much water or color, you can remove it while your painting is wet with a dry brush to soak up the extra coloring and water.
Continue painting your watercolor berries, deepening the color and dropping in color accents of Vermillion Hue and Quinacridone Scarlet as you go using wet on wet technique.
Your berries will look like these below.
Painting the Watercolor Leaves
Painting these leaves is very similar to the process we used for our berries, and we will be using the same wet on wet technique for blending the colors.
Start with painting each leaf one at a time with a light wash of Sap Green. While each leaf is still wet, drop in Hookers Green for darker shadows, and a small amount of Shadow Green along the edge of the leaves. If you use too much color, you can use the dry brush technique I mentioned earlier to pull out color if needed while your painting is still wet.
Paint more leaves one by one shading as you go and letting the leaves dry. Otherwise, the colors will blend.
Note: you can paint next to wet leaves if that is the look you want, but I didn’t do that with this painting.
After painting your watercolor leaves and they are dry, we will finish the painting with the stem.
Paint the Stem of the Branch
I usually like to start at the top of the branch and work my way down when painting stems because it feels the most natural. Make sure your leaves and berries are dry before painting the stem.
Using a small number 2 round brush, paint the branch in even smooth movements with the tip of your brush. You should load your brush with a higher concentration of watercolor paint to water. Too much water and your strokes will be very runny, too little water and it will be dry.
Painting Tip: To find the balance of water to paint on your brush, use a scrap piece of watercolor paper and test your lines until you get the right consistency.
Darken the stem with Shadow Green with a mixture of more paint than water. Paint the Shadow Green only in accent areas on the branch; this will add variations in color to your stem and give it natural dimension.
Here is the finished watercolor berry branch painting.
I’ve also created a video lesson of this tutorial for you. You can watch my YouTube video below:
Denise Palmer is an illustrator, watercolor artist, surface pattern designer, and blogger. She creates illustrative graphic design resources to assist brands, makers, and designers, to develop products that connect with their customers.