Common Mistakes Drawing Leaves & How To Fix Them

Drawing leaves might be challenging for beginners, but if you understand these common mistakes, you can draw natural and lovely foliage. So grab your pencils, and let's get started!

Start with basic shapes

Begin by drawing a curved teardrop shape for the main body of the leaf. Next, sketch the curve of the midrib. Then, add any indentations, serrations and veins on the leaf. Once you have the basic shapes, you can spruce it up by adding holes and indents for more character.

basic shapes of leaves

In nature, we rarely encounter flat leaves like these. Let's curve and slant the plane of the leaf.

Drawing curved leaves

Let's start by noticing the shape of the apex of the leaves when we observe a curved leaf. The top part of the leaf shape appears like a triangle with rounded corners, and it curves away from the eye.

The bottom base of the leaf appears like a 'U' shape.

Curled leaves

Remember to imagine your leaves are transparent when you draw them with this method. Make sure to connect the edges of the leaves.

When you add the midribs, remember that they travel through the middle of the leaf. Similarly, picturing the leaf as transparent, you can now add the mid-ribs all the way through.

If your leaves lack the basic structure, no amount of shading will fix blatant errors.

Common Errors Beginners Make

I have come across drawings that look inaccurate because beginners don't understand the structure of a leaf. Below are examples of common mistakes. Can you spot the errors?

Common mistakes made drawing leaves

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

The mid-rib of the leaf passes all the way through the middle of the leaf. If we forget to connect the lines from the bottom of the leaf to the top, it can look incorrect and disjointed.

Similarly, with the edges, we need to line up the blades of the leaf to make it appear to flow.

Now that you understand the basic structure of a leaf, you can add veins, dots, holes, serrations, etc.

If this drawing tutorial taught you something new, you might like my newsletter. I share drawing tips and inspiration every two weeks to help you stay creative.

Drawing Exercise - Experiment with different types of leaves

Once you've mastered drawing one type of leaf, don't be afraid to branch out and try sketching different leaves. Drawing different types of leaves will help you improve your sketching skills and understanding of the natural world around you. Take a walk outside and collect some leaves to use as reference. Observe and practice.

leaf drawing exercise

If you want to draw some flowers now that you can sketch leaves, check out these posts.

How to draw Frangipani Flowers

How to draw poppy flowers


  • Thank you (again :))

    One major problem I have with leaves – and it drives me almost crazy that I don’t seem to understand it – is with the shading of the veins: the top side of a leaf often shows “recessed” veins and the underside shows more rib-like veins (sorry for my lack of wording here). It’s difficult imho to reflect this with the shading/ values.

  • Thank you for this! Really good balance between length and depth, without assuming too much previous knowledge of the artist. Looking forward to reading your other articles. :)

  • Thank you for this article. It really struck the balance between short and informative. Looking forward reading your other articles.


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