A Leaf Course, Part 1A - Tonal Studies

Exercise 3, Part 1A - Day 1

I am now continuing on with my leaf study in the tonal portion.  I have chosen two leaves from my leaf studies, in my post, "A Leaf Course, Part 1 - Leaf Library" and will do tonal work on both of them - This is what is required of me in my study, but I actually plan to do tonal work for all six leaf studies in the Leaf Library.  It will take a while, but it will be well worth the extra effort.  Here's my tonal work so far...

Hydrangea Leaf Tonal Work

Day 2

It's my second day of working on my Hydrangea Leaf Tonal Study.  I have kept my leaf in a glass of water, so it's still alive and good to work with.  It was such a beautiful day out, I decided to spend my two hours of art time out on my front deck!  

Also, I cut a small branch to give me some perspective of how the leaves form and grow on the Hydrangea branch.  At the top of my clipping is a cluster of buds - I plan to sketch those out as well...

Then I sketched out a portion of the branch and added some detail and tone for growth clarity on my study page.

Day 3

As you can see, tonal study takes lots of time.  It's very important for a botanical illustrator to study the subject thoroughly and then proceed in tonal work with consideration of every vein, it's location on the leaf, and how each vein causes indentions or pillows that cause shadows or catch light.  

Day 4

Very excited that my Hydrangea Leaf is still holding out after four days!  It's starting to curl up a bit, so it won't last much longer.  I had to erase some areas and start again today because I noticed some of my veins were a bit sideways...

Once I got them straightened out, I felt like things began to click and I got much more done today than I did in the first few days!  I'll say it again, "Practice makes art!"

Day 5

My Hydrangea Leaf is still with me, but only barely.  No worries, because I have taken lots of photos of it and in picmonkey.com I changed it to black and white, so I can get my toning just right.  As you can see, there are lots of crevices which makes for lots of tiny shadows.

Day 6

I have now begun to use my black and white photo that I took of my Hydrangea Leaf while it was still alive and looking good.  I'm really surprised it lasted five whole days in a jar of water! It was so nice to be able to work from my actual subject.

I actually got a lot accomplished today and was even thinking that I might be able to finish my toning on the Hydrangea Leaf, but I had just a little more to go at the end of the day and needed to extend to a seventh day.  Here is what I was able to accomplish...

Day 7 - Final Day and Completion of my Hydrangea Leaf Tonal Work!

Although I began this last day thinking I would have very little to do, I ended up discovering some errors in my drawing on the left side of the leaf that needed to be corrected and tidied up.  Overall, I am very glad I made the corrections and I am pleased with the end result.

I know I still have so much to learn, but I have been slowly training myself through this course to practice my botanical illustration work daily, and in doing so I am already seeing huge improvement in my art.  I am very excited!  Practice Makes Art!

Well that's it for this leaf.  However, my course calls for me to do tonal work on two leaves, so I will be selecting my second to begin work on tomorrow.  I hope you will join me - I'm thinking about the Hosta Leaf... We'll see.

Also, below you can see the tools I used for toning this leaf.  The sketchbook I am working in is the Zeta Softcover Sketchbook by Stillman and Birn and my graphite pencils are the Faber-Castell 9000 Series.  I especially like this sketchbook for graphite work because it does not smear as easily.

Day 8

Decided to add a little more to my Hydrangea Study Page.  Now I'm done and moving on to begin my next tonal study of a Hosta Leaf.

This is a great course by Dianne Sutherland called, "Drawing and Painting Leaves".  I need to complete this course by September since I will begin my Pre-RBGE course at that time and it will be quite time consuming.

Thank you for stopping by.  If you have any questions regarding my studies, art supplies I use, or the process I use for my leaf library, please contact me in the navigation above.

Remember, "Practice Makes Art!" - so practice, practice, practice! :)



Click here for:  Exercises 1-2, Part 1