How to Make Fall Leaves - Part #2

Friday, November 7, 2014

 This is the second half of a 2 part tutorial on making fall leaves. In the first half I showed you how to cut out a leaf and make it look more realistic. Click here to read Part #1.  In Part #2, I'll discuss using different petal dusts on your leaves to achieve bold vibrant colors.

At the top of this picture is a plain yellow leaf that was cut out of gum paste. Below it are three examples of the same basic leaf that were brushed with different colors of petal dust. Yes... even the orange leaf started out yellow. The color possibilities are endless!!!

Here's a similar example to the one above. Except I used pink gum paste instead of yellow to make the basic leaf.

Before we get started, here are a few basic rules to keep in mind:

1- Never start out using dark colors. 
You can always make a color darker... but it's almost impossible to lighten it up! This same rule applies to both gum paste and petal dust. By starting out light,  it's easier to vary the value and intensity of each color.
2- Less is more.
Begin by adding colors a little at a time. You can always apply more color later... but it's very difficult to remove once it's on.
3- Blend the edges of the colors together.
Doing this will make the colors flow together naturally, so they won't look spotted or splotchy. Be careful, however, not to over blend!
4- Don't worry if the tips or small parts of your leaf break off.
The truth about fall leaves is that they're either drying up or already dead. Take a look at real leaves... you'll notice that they're all shriveled up, crumbly, torn, or even have holes in them. Leaves are not perfect. In fact, they'll look more realistic if they have flaws.
5- Use many different colors of petal dust on each leaf. 
Don't be afraid to make extra leaves and experiment with your colors. You won't know how they work unless you try them. 
6- Use a lot of different brushes.
I use small paint brushes to apply the petal dust. For this tutorial, I used one brush for the yellows, one for the greens, one for the light reds and oranges, and one for the dark reds and burgundy. Plus I had one very tiny brush for only dark brown.

OK... let's start with the yellow leaf.
I began by dusting a mid-tone yellow here and there, concentrating on the center of the leaf.

Then I randomly add light orange to a few other places on the leaf.

Next, I deepen the color by adding a mid-tone orange to the outside edges of the light orange spots.

Then I add a couple of different reds to the outside areas of the dark orange. The farther out from the center I go, the darker the colors become. Finally, I hit a few of the lighter spots with bright yellow. This helps add vibrancy to the leaf.

The next step is to add a just a touch of dark brown. Using the flat side of your tiny brush, stroke upward across the very outside edge of your leaf. This helps bring dimension and realism to it's appearance. Finally, add just a hint of brown to the veins. Be careful not to go too dark, or the veins will look like you drew them in.

There's a huge variety of colors you can make with a basic yellow leaf. Play around a little, and see what kind of colors you can come up with.

Next up... the red leaf.
I start by adding a reddish orange color to different parts of the leaf.

Next I brush on a mid-tone red to the remaining areas.

I deepen a few of the reds by adding an even darker red color.

 Finally, to make the dark reds look even richer... add burgundy to a few spots. You can also add some pink or light orange to brighten the lighter areas. Finish off by touching just the outside edge of your leaf with dark brown, and then lightly trace over the veins. (Do this the same way it was described above for the yellow leaf.) 

Here's an example of a variety of colors you can achieve by starting out with the same basic pink leaf. Try using different shades of orange, pink, red,  burgundy, and even a little dark green. 

These fall leaves are a great way to practice your skills. Don't be afraid to play around and use a variety of color combinations. You can even try adding blue or purple to your color scheme! If a leaf breaks... don't worry, it doesn't matter. You can still use it! The whole idea is to discover new ways to use color and to have fun. You might even be surprised at how artistic you can be!!! 


  1. Very creative. Thanks for sharing some tips. I want to try this at home ;)

  2. Wow this looks so amazing. Its very simple, We'll definately goint to try this.
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  3. What a fantastic and informative blog! i enjoyed reading this, and I must say your blog is great! Keep up the excellent work. You have a magical talent of holding readers mind.
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