Doodling with Leaves


Have you been inspired by autumn? I have! It’s hard not to be, when I see all the gorgeous golds, reds, or oranges brightening the trees, and now carpeting the ground. I’ve been thinking of different ways to draw with leaves. Leaves make great subjects for doodle studies, because they are

  • easy-to-find
  • portable
  • come in different colors and shapes
  • simple & complex — good for all ages and abilities
  • they’re a perfect excuse to go on a scavenger hunt

Go for a walk in your backyard or nearby park. Try to find leaves in as many different shapes and sizes as possible. If there aren’t many varieties in your area, look for variations within the same tree. See if you can find at least 10 different kinds.

Doodling with Leaves : 5 Ways to Draw


1. Contour Color Layering

You will need different colored-pencils or pens. Start with the simplest leaf shapes and advance each time to a more complicated one. Look at the edges — are they smooth or jaggedy? Are they curved or pointy? Are they symmetrical?


Doodle each leaf shape as an outline in a different color. Layer one shape over another shape like this, until you have a nice composition:


Alternatively, younger doodlers can trace the leaves to compose your design.


2. Mapping the Leaves

This drawing requires a bit more patience and observation of the lines on the leaf. Lightly sketch the outline of the leaf (or use a light colored-pencil as I did). Then, notice the lines running through the leaves, called veins. When you start drawing the veins, they start to resemble roads or rivers on a map. Do the lines go up or down from the petiole to the tip of the leaf?


If you’re an advanced doodler, you can spend more time and add more detail and shading. Try drawing several shapes, too, until you fill a page with doodled leaves.


3. Leaf Rubbings

Choose a leaf, a blank page, and several colored-pencils. Turn the leaf over to the (back)side where the veins protrude more from the surface, and place on a flat surface or table with this side facing up. Put your piece of paper on top, covering the leaf. Take a sharpened pencil, and, using the side (not point) of the lead, rub or color the page, revealing the lines of the leaf. It’s magic — I love seeing the leaf appear as you color. Move or turn the page slightly, and rub again with another color. Repeat a few times, layering the texture and colors:


Variation: Paint the surface of the leaf, and then press the painted side onto a sheet of paper, transferring the color. You may need to experiment with the amount of paint needed to get an impression, without making it too goopy.


4. Fill in the Blanks

This might be a good exercise after you’ve done number 1 or 2, and you’ve had the chance to study the leaves a bit. Find a damaged leaf, or one that has missing parts. Draw the leaf, carefully filling in the blanks.


5. Doodle Collage

Choose a leaf and affix it to a blank page. Add a doodle, using the leaf as your inspiration. This is one of our favorite techniques here on kid can doodle: see how Moomooi, Claudi Kessels, and Christoph Niemann doodle with nature. Here’s a couple of examples of what I did:


Have fun!


Hope you inspired to try a few leaf studies of your own! Hurry, before they all fall off the trees!


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Experimental Media : markers


Experimental Media


Drawing with markers

Did I tell you we just recently moved all the way from Australia to England? Which means that at the moment our drawing implements are pretty basic since we haven’t received our shipping container yet. But last week, my sister-in-law gifted me a collection of markers. They naturally became my second media experiment.

Markers and pens have never been my favorite drawing tools because I find that the consistent line width means they are are less forgiving; that any mistakes are easily seen, and you can’t erase them! You either have to be pretty confident with the marks you make, or not worry too much if they aren’t exactly perfect. The beauty of this experiment is that I’m trying new things and learning how to use them.

I first tried incorporating the markers in my doodles.





Then I just doodled with them, trying monkeys for upcoming Lunar New Year:



What I learned

Since you can’t really blend with markers,  the best way to shade is by using different colors. I grouped similar colors together, limiting my palette with each drawing, using the light colors as highlights and darker hues for the shadows.


And while the line widths are uniform, you can be expressive with the strokes, as I tried to be with the animal fur, and in the hash marks for shading too.


The one bummer is that when the markers have been used awhile or if you forget to put the lid on, they do dry out, and may affect the quality of your drawing.

trythisHave you tried using markers? I bet you have some lying around the house. Give them a go! The more you use them, the less likely you are to be concerned with mistakes, because you can’t erase! It’s actually freeing!


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Favorite Doodle Books

We’d be remiss if we didn’t have a year-end list, so here’s our Favorite Doodle Books this year:


Most Colorful Cast

The Little Factory of Illustration by Florie Saint-Val (Tate Publishing) takes budding artists on a tour of a fantastical factory, helping them create a show by exploring collage, pattern-making and composition.


Adorable Instruction

Illustration School: Let’s Draw by Sachiko Umoto (Quarry) is ideal for artists who want a bit more drawing direction, especially in replicating the cuteness that is Sachiko Umoto. Learn how to draw people, characters, animals, flowers, plants and more!



For Fashionistas

32 Ways to Dress a Bunny (Wee Gallery) is one of three mini models to dress with doodles. You’ll want to collect them all.


Super Silly

Make Faces: A Silly Scribble Activity Book by Christopher Harrisson (Ivy Press) is appropriately titled and bound to induce a gaggle of giggles and a lot of doodling.


Cutest Concept

The Small Object Thumbprint Portraits by Sara Neuburger (Chronicle Books), the follow-up to her popular Thumbprint Masterpieces, comes with a two-color ink pad and stickers that cartoonists can use to complete the scenes.


Occupational Accessories

I Could Wear That Hat! by Ben Sanders (Thames & Hudson) is perfect for day-dreamers, doodlers and me.


Terrific for Typographers

Draw Your Own Fonts by Tony Seddon (Ivy Press) is designed for those who fancy fonts, and want to create artful alphabets.


Artfully Awesome

Marion Deuchar’s Draw Paint Print like the Great Artists (Laurence King Publishing) is fabulous—I love her drawings, handwriting, and books. This one introduces kids to fine artists as well as teaches art concepts through fun projects and activities.


Designer’s Delight

Lastly, here’s two books for an aspiring architect—they’ll learn about design and designers while developing their own design skills.
Archi-Doodle: An Architect’s Activity Book by Steve Bowkett (Laurence King)
Draw Me a House: Architectural Ideas, Inspiration and Coloring In by Thibaud Herem (Cicada)


PS. Our favorite doodler is Taro Gomi, author of Scribbles, Doodles, and Squiggles. Two lucky artists will win one of his mini doodle books: Cheer Up or Grumpy. To enter the prize drawing, just submit a drawing in our current Show & Tell, Loolygadoodling.



Images credit: or the respective publishers.



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