How to Make Realistic Leaves

Hemera Technologies/ Images

Things You'll Need

  • Coffee filters
  • Brushes (fan shape and fine tip)
  • Water
  • Paint (shades of green, brown, red, orange, yellow and gold)
  • Leaf templates
  • Sharp scissors

Crafts with a realistic appearance bring a new element to displays and projects. One way to create a project using leaves as a focal point is to create artificial leaves which look true to life. Know what materials to use and what techniques work best for creating leaves that can easily pass for real.

Determine which leaves you want to recreate. Print out or sketch templates to use for cutting out the leaves. Opt for easy to replicate leaves such as maple and oak leaves. Use heavy construction paper to cut out the leaves to use for tracing on the paper you will use to make the leaves.

Use coffee filters for a background paper which is pliable and shows natural fibers. Place the cut out guide on top of the flattened coffee filter. Use a lead pencil and trace the outline of the leaf. Cut out the leaf using sharp scissors.

Place all cut out leaves on a piece of white paper so you can see the shading of colors as you apply the various layers. Dip your paintbrush in to a base color for the leaf such as orange, red or yellow. Use a fan edge brush and sweep the color all over the cut out leaf. Allow the first coat to dry. Clean the brush and use the same method to add a shade lighter of the same color. For example, use light red as the base color and use deep dark red for the second coat. When applying the second coat, use a light sweeping movement and lift the brush up from time to time so as not to cover the fist coat.

Tap gold flecks on the leaf using a fine point brush. Use the same type of brush to apply a dark shade of brown to create the veins of the leaf.


  • Play around with color combinations to replicate natural leaves. For example, use red and orange together on a maple leaf and brown and yellow on an oak leaf.

    Consider using pastels instead of paint for a more subtle and matte finish to your leaves.


  • Use caution when working with paint to avoid staining clothing or furniture.


Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images