Realistic Eucalyptus Watercolor TutorialMar 07, 2021
Hey guys! I'm going to walk through how to create this cute and dainty watercolor piece DIGITALLY on Procreate. If you like a challenge, you can totally follow along with actual watercolor paint, but your steps will just look a little different. If you're able to, I definitely recommend grabbing the AquaReal Watercolour Brush Pack because I'm really excited to show you all the goodies I've been able to create with it!
If you prefer your pictures to move (aka video-style), scroll alllll the way to the bottom of this page to view!
This watercolor brush pack is honestly so dreamy and fills my little realist heart. Get ready to fall in love with eucalyptus all over again, because who doesn't love this stuff already?
ALSO, if you already have my book Peggy Dean's Guide to Nature Drawing & Watercolor make sure to have that handy because we'll be referencing it to draw our eucalyptus. If not, that's okay too, we'll be going through it step-by-step.
- AquaReal Watercolour Brush Pack
- Just FYI: iPad case (2018) | iPad case (2015-2017)
- Peggy Dean's Guide to Nature Drawing & Watercolor by Peggy Dean (optional)
If you're following along with my book, head over to page 130. If not, don't worry, we'll go over it step-by-step and it's like you're getting a sneak peek inside!
Ok, note on this rad brush pack I'll be using... One of the most unique parts of the AquaReal Watercolour Brush Pack is that it comes with three watercolor paper canvases. Lisa (creator of this pack) went to great lengths to make us feel like we're really watercolor painting. For this project, I'm using the chiffon canvas.
This brush pack also comes with a TON of different color palettes to spark your creativity, the peach and sage palette gave me serious life. Not going to lie, I was feeling super inspired to do this eucalyptus piece after seeing all the gorgeous greens in these palettes. How can you resist?! If you're opting out of getting this brush pack, that's totally okay too, just use whatever you have on hand.
Step 1: Sketch your branches
Start by going in an upward motion with your sketch brush and bring it back down to create a full stem. Feel free to make adjustments to make your stem skinnier OR thicker. Add some petals in the same growth direction as the stem. When you start adding your stems, try to make the stems at the top of your branch shorter than the ones closer to the base. This will help make your eucalyptus look super realistic.
If you're following along with the brush pack, start with the sketching and detail brush. I love this brush in particular because it's really fine, has a slight transparency to it, and has pressure sensors that help make it feel like a real sketch. The color palette provided by the brush pack that quite literally stole my heart is the peach and sage palette, so that's what I'll be using as my default for this piece.
Next, add your silver dollar leaves. Silver dollar eucalyptus is suuuuuper pretty and cylinder-shaped. Play around with the shape of your leaves. Depending on the perspective, some can look like they're slightly turned to hone in that realistic feel. As you reach the top of your branch, make your leaves a little more narrow and make the stem closer to the top of the leaf so it looks like it's tilted to the side. Make adjustments as you go and if you need to add more OR fewer leaves, do it! The nice part about working digitally is nothing is forever and you can actually go back and make edits a lot easier. Still have love classic watercolor though, obviously.
I decided to add some more leaves because my eucalyptus was looking too bare. I added some overlapping leaves which look SO fun. 10/10 recommend.
Step 2: Fill in your leaves
Create a new layer on top of your sketch layer, this will be your "main wash" layer. Drag your sketching layer on top of your main wash layer so you can still see where you're going without the painting layer getting in the way. I'm naming my layers because I'm trying this new thing called being organized. It's alright.
I went ahead and grabbed the all-rounder brush, which is a round brush if you couldn't tell by the name. Next, pick the base color of your eucalyptus. Blue maybe? Purple? You rebels. I picked a cool sage-y color for my eucalyptus. Make sure to reduce the size of your brush because you're filling the leaves pretty close to their edges. Go on and color in those cute silver dollar leaves!
If you're using this pack, you've probably already noticed that if you lift the apple pencil on this particular brush, once you hit it again it'll cause a little seam. This is very similar to what happens when you're actually painting. If you don't like that this brush does this, you can grab the wet blending brush from the same set and blend those areas together.
To create some differentiation between leaves that are overlapping, create a new layer on top of your "main wash" layer and apply a clipping mask. Grab a new color to compliment your first color, I went with a brown. Grab the bloom accent brush and apply the color to the overlapping portions of the leaves. This will be helpful when you turn your sketch layer off because it'll not only differentiate the two leaves but also make it look like there's a shadow.
Back on the all-rounder brush, continue coloring in your leaves. I love working in layers more than most people, so every time I have two leaves that are overlapping, I just create a new layer to use the method above to create a shadow effect on the leaves. I made the coloring on my leaves a little more sloppy because, well, it's just my aesthetic! Let me live.
Step 3: Play with effects on your leaves
Create a layer on top of your first clipping mask and name it "Main clip 2," you know, if you're into that. Apply a clipping mask to your new layer and start playing with some effects.
This brush pack also includes stamps, which is so cool because the stamps make it look like the watercolor is actually bleeding. Grab a stamp you dig and apply it to a few of your leaves. If you don't have the brush pack, play around with splatter. You have a lot of options to make adjustments with these effects: you can use your selection tool to select the stamp and move or adjust it to your liking. You can also use the blending brush that comes in the pack OR your smudge tool. Literally, endless options!
There are a variety of different stamps in this brush pack so don't feel like you have to use the same stamp on all of your leaves. Some stamps are darker than others, some larger, so just play around with them and see what you love and what you... don't love. Bloom stamp 3 has my whole heart. Remember, you can adjust your stamps using your selection tool! Try turning your sketch layer off and see if you can differentiate your leaves, especially if you have a lot of overlapping leaves.
You can either be intentional with your effects OR just go crazy. Dealer's choice! Once you've applied all of your stamps, go ahead and use your smudge tool OR the blending brush in the AquaReal Watercolour Brush Pack to blend some of the stamps with the leaf color. The smudge tool can be interesting because yes, it does lighten the area, but if there's enough color, it will actually pull the color in the direction that your hand is going.
If you're like me and you wish you would have made your main wash a tad lighter, have no fear! You can change this. To do this, go to your "main wash" layer and select your wand, then select "hue, saturation, brightness" from your options. From there, drag your brightness down (it lives on the bottom of your screen). This will help when I add more darkness later and leave more room for me to add depth.
Step 4: Add depth
Apply an alpha lock to your "main wash" layer, grab that sage-y color and jump into adding some depth. Grab the bloom accents brush and add some depth to the bottoms of your leaves. You're basically just adding some extra somethin' to create that realistic depth to your eucalyptus. I'm not being super intentional with this part because I like it a little more sporadic. Remember, if you have overlapping leaves, make sure to really add depth to those so it creates a shadow effect! Try going a smidge darker to create more depth, making the lighter color just an accent, rather than the main color.
Step 5: Add extra depth with a clipping mask
From the "main wash", create a new layer, apply a clipping mask and grab a really dark color. I decided to lighten my main wash even MORE to build more depth. I'm still using the bloom brush. Add some depth to the edges of your leaves to define their lines. Turn your sketch layer off and see how you feel about it. Some leaves may need more emphasis while others, maybe some less.
This is something you can play around with until it is to your liking. That's what is so great about Procreate, you can really go back and forth with things like color.
Step 6: Add details to your stem
Create a new layer and rename it "stem", so you know it's for your stem layer. Grab a contrasting brown or sage color. Fill in your stem, depending on how thick or thin your stem is, you may just have to color a direct line from top to bottom. I grabbed my blending brush that's specific to this brush pack and blended my stem area to create a more unified color.
Don't forget to bring your stem up and through a few of your leaves. Feel free to blend out any lines that feel too harsh.
Step 7: Erase any unwanted pencil lines
Grab your eraser tool and erase any unwanted pencil lines from your original sketch. You can also completely turn off that layer but I actually like leaving some lines. It feels a little more organic and realistic. This is basically the time to clean up any unwanted harsh lines or imperfections, you can take away as much as you'd like, or as little.
Step 8: Add finishing touches
I really like to emphasize the center of a stem for a few leaves. To do this, go to your stem layer, create a new layer on top and grab either the all-rounder brush, the bloom accents brush, or the rugged brush. From there, grab a really deep color and highlight the inside stems on some leaves. After that, smudge one side of the stem so it adds shadow and depth. Again, I would recommend only using this method on a couple of leaves because these types of leaves, in particular, are pretty flat so too much would end badly.
Get creative and add some splatter around your eucalyptus if you want! I always like to add some splatter at the end of my piece. It's also fun to smudge some of the edges of your leaves so it looks like it's coming off, or bleeding. This really makes it feel like it's a watercolor piece!
Aaaaaand there you have it! I had such a good time making this tutorial for you guys. Honestly, it has kind of given me some inspo to play with my IRL watercolors, even though these Procreate ones were pretty fun. Don't forget, if you loved the AquaReal Watercolour Brush Pack, run over and snatch that thing up!
HEY you! Want to save this cutie for later? Just pin it!