How To Draw on Real Leaves – FAQs & Tips

Leaf Art- An Introduction

Greenery has a calming effect on humans and so does creative activity like drawing or simple doodling. Leaf art is a fun activity that combines both of these. To top it all, drawing and painting which involve real leaves fascinate adults and kids alike, adults find it therapeutic and kids find the whole process as is, easy and fun.

Leaf art basically covers two different kinds of activities, either you draw on leaves or use leaves of various shapes to make prints on paper. Today we are talking about the first one, drawing on leaves.

Leaf art with simple doodles

Drawing on leaves – FAQs

I have been doodling simple patterns on leaves for almost a year now and every time I share them on social media, I find myself answering a couple of basic questions repetitively which led me to today’s post. I decided to compile these questions to offer a quick read in case you want to draw on real leaves.

  • Q- What kind of leaves to choose from?

  • Answer –
  1. I generally pick mature, vibrant coloured leaves which have recently fallen on the ground. I avoid leaves showing signs of decay or the ones which are covered in dirt.
  2. You can also pluck the mature leaves although I prefer to use the fallen ones.
  3. Pick broad, thick leaves for the ease of drawing.
  4. If you are new to this, collect an assortment of shapes and colours. Some colours and shapes look nice when fresh but not too great once they have been drawn and dried.
Leaves in different shape, size, colour.

Tip –

  1. Collect twice as many leaves as you finally plan on having as there is a great chance that some will get spoilt in the process of pressing and some during the drawing.
  2. Take as per your need – The leaves I don’t end up using, I generally put them back with the rest of the garden waste.
  • Q- What comes first – Drawing on leaves Or Drying the leaves?

  • Answer –
  1. Both of the above options are pretty common. You can draw directly on freshly picked leaves and then press the leaves. Alternatively, you can press the leaves and then draw on dried leaves.
  2. If you dry the leaves first you already discard the ones which go bad and pick the best ones based on the final colour of the dried leaves. Con, dried leaves are very delicate and brittle. You have to be very careful while drawing on them and it almost takes away the fun. The pen doesn’t glide smoothly and there is a very high chance that you might damage the leaf while drawing on it.
  3. If you draw on leaves first then the pen moves really smooth, it is very easy and fun to draw on soft leaves. Con, the colours never look the same once you press the leaves dry. The dried leaves look dull and the colours almost always turn muddy. At times I have picked coloured pens for doodling which look great on fresh leaves but once the leaves dried the colour lost its appeal and ended up looking like a mess. I will talk more about inks in the next point.
    Left side- Already flat, pressed leaves. Right side – Soft, Freshly fallen leaves


  • Q- How to prep the leaves for drawing?

  • Answer –
  1. I clean the leaves gently but really well. First with a dry cloth then with a slightly damp cloth.
  2. After cleaning, I let the leaves air – dry naturally before I start to draw on leaves.
  3. I also clean the stem attached to the leaves. I usually discard the ones I am unable to fully clean.
Clean the leaves really well

Tip –

  1. Don’t think twice before removing the leaves showing any sign of decay or feel muddy. They almost always catch mould on pressing.
  • Q- What kind of pens are used for drawing on real leaves?

  • Answer –
  1. I have used a couple of different pens for drawing on leaves, Regular blue-black ink, metallic colours, Sharpie pens, paint markers, gel pens etc. You can even use acrylic colours.
  2. Sharp metal tips tend to damage the soft surface of leaves while drawing, I prefer pens with roller or fiber tips.
  3. On leaves which are shades of yellow, I prefer to use white pens.
  4. White pens and Metallic pens, gold and silver are the go-to choices if you can’t choose which colours will look good.
Note – For drawing on leaves find a bunch of pens here, the full supply list is at the end of the blog. 


Have fun while picking Leaf art patterns

Tip –

  1. Yellow and brown colours look pretty nice after drying; green has a greater chance of losing its vibrancy.
  2. Make sure the ink is fully dry before you press the leaves to dry.
  • Q- What about the patterns for drawing on leaves?

  • Answer –
  1. The choice of patterns totally depends on the individual.
  2. You can pick simple patterns like stars, tiny flowers, swirls, lines or dots or make a complex drawing or patterns.
  3. Simple patterns let you show the natural colours of the leaf.
Simple doodle patterns for leaf art

Bonus Question

  • How do I use this leaf art?

  • Now that you have a fun-filled session of drawing on leaves and you have even successfully dried these beautiful leaves it’s time to put them to display.
  1. Wall art – Frame these painted leaves and display them on your wall
Framed Leaf Art
  1. Handmade card– You can put these leaves on plain cards with a note inside and make personalised cards for gifting to your loved ones.
  2. Decor piece – You can string the leaves in a garland and use it as a decor element in your house.
Leaves displayed on a string.


  •  How to preserve the painting on leaves?

  • Leaves are supposed to lose colours naturally with time. Once the leaves have been pressed dry I spray them with a protective coat of clear varnish spray(Linked below) to preserve the inks and the colours for a bit longer.

Tip –

  1. Always test your protective spray on one of the leaves to see the result, only then use it on the others.
  2. To preserve the colour of the leaves, here is a blog that showed the use of mod podge over sharpie leaf art.
Leaves – A super fun canvas

So, three hours and 1000 words later I have shared everything I know about drawing on leaves.  I hope I have answered all the possible questions and I sincerely wish you give drawing on real leaves a try. It is a very easy, quick, super fun and therapeutic way to explore your creativity. If you still have any questions left, I will be more than happy to help you.

Need help to shop the supplies for drawing on leaves? 

I have listed a couple of pens and protective sprays, a bunch of options for your reference under the list LEAF ART SUPPLIES on my Amazon India storefront.  

Also, if you like the post I will really appreciate it if you can show your support by sharing the guide. You can Pin the blog on your Pinterest board or share it over any social media app of your choice.


Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links to my Amazon storefront. If you use these links to buy something, it doesn’t cost you anything extra and I may earn a commission when you use this link to make a purchase.”

6 thoughts on “How To Draw on Real Leaves – FAQs & Tips”

  1. Shardha mam.
    Apni whole life m only first girl dekhi hai jo apne passion k liye jee rhi hai,
    Or sapne jee rhi hai,
    hypocrite society se jisko koi ghnta frk ni pdta hai .
    Hats off to you mam.

  2. Thank you for such a comprehensive article. It answered many of my questions. If I may add something… after pressing my leaves for about 1-2 weeks, they kept a lot of their original color, but were flat. the I brushed on alcohol inks using colors to try to match the leaves, adding a few hilites here and there. these inks behaved like stain, I could wipe off the excess of color with a soft cloth to get more transparency. They dried to a colorful sheen. Then it was easy to draw on the leaves with white gel pens and paint pens. Letting them dry and will seal them following your suggestions.
    Thanks again for all of your ideas.

  3. Thank you for this article! I have been saving pics in Pinterest of ‘enhanced’ leaf art for some time but there are very few links to blogs with good how-to instructions. Appreciated your comments and recommendations. I use a microwave plant press (brand name Microfleur, prob available through Amazon) which leaves the plant material initially less brittle but fully dried. I get impatient to create so this method of drying works best for me 🙂

  4. I’d like to try and do something like this with a class of about 12 adults at local library. One challenge I’d have is the time limit, an hour and a half. I assume the best route to take would be for me to collect leaves and press them 1 to 2 weeks prior to the class. Bring the pressed leaves to class and have them draw on them, then seal while at class. I would love if they could also make the leaves into a framed wall hanging using old frames. Do you think this would be possible to do in an hour and a half class? Thank you for your expertise!

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