Fall Leaf Art Projects for Kids
Even though we have a TON, of Free Fall Art Projects for Kids….some of them can be a bit messy. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Oil Pastel and Watercolor Spray Paint, but sometimes it’s nice to keep the mess to a minimum while still creating stunning art with the kiddos. It’s time for some Fall Leaf Art Projects that will keep it simple, but encourage young artists with stunning results!
This project is actually just a simplified version of another Watercolor Fall Leaf Art Project we designed quite a few years back. It was an instant hit then, and this new update is sure to be a hit with your younger students as well. This time around we’re providing a few fall leaf templates you can use with your younger students. If your find your kiddos are really into leaf painting you can also check out this amazing leaf print project that will bring a little process art and science into your classroom.
Fall Leaf Template
Basically, we’ve simplified this project by providing your students with a template…well three leaf templates to be exact. We’ve created an Oak Leaf, Maple Leaf, and Poplar Leaf template with thick black lines for easy coloring (scroll to the bottom of that post for the exact templates used in this art project. Kids of all ages will love this new option. Our fall leaf templates have thick black outlines that are great for younger students because there is more room to hide any coloring mistakes!
Fall Leaf Coloring Pages & More
If you want to start with just the template outline of the leaf, we have a wider variety of Fall Leaf Templates available free on our sister site Super Star Worksheets. (HINT: While you are there be sure to check out our adorable Fall Leaf Coloring Pages, your kiddos will love them and there are some that can easily be turned into art projects too!)
Why Watercolor Pencils?
If you don’t have watercolor pencils, you can use watercolor paint or even watercolor markers as well. However, let me tell you that watercolor pencils are one of my favorite mediums to work with for a variety of reasons. First, they are super easy to blend and layer multiple colors for pencil drawings. The variety of colors in the set above really provides so many options for drawing. Second, if you get them wet with a tiny tiny tiny bit of water on a brush, the colors POP super vivid but you can still allow some of that pencil texture to show through. You’ll see in the final steps of this project that we specifically leave some of that texture unblended.
Fall Leaf Watercolor Art Project —Let’s Get Started!
STEP 1: Pick your Template!
We’ll use the Maple Leaf Template for our project today. The links are up above to the oak, poplar, and 15 other leaf templates.
STEP 2: Pick your Colors
I find it’s much easier to choose your color palette beforehand. This is a great way to get your students thinking about what colors they will use for their leaf. You can encourage them to focus on warm or cool colors with a few adjacent options. For example, using warm colors with purple or brown, or using cool colors with pink or purple, neutral colors with pink or purple etc….
STEP 3: Color with Pressure Variation
The trick to this project, as covered in the original art project, is to lay the color down thick and saturated on one end of the shape, and slowly lighten up the pencil pressure as you fill in the shape. In the picture above you can see that the color moves from dark to light. The idea is that it will give your project a 3-D feeling, and it certainly provides visual interest.
STEP 4: Choose Another Color
Repeat this coloring process with each shape in your leaf. Within our fall leaf templates, there are a variety of shapes of differing sizes.
STEP 5: Repeat with More Colors
Try to use different colors throughout the leaf so that the same color doesn’t touch another shape of the same color. Also, try to choose different shapes for each color as well. In the example above, each color is spread out and had unique shapes. You can also decided to vary the direction of the shading or to keep it all in the same direction.
STEP 6: Consider Composition
As you are coloring in the shapes, begin to consider the composition of the project as a whole. Will you be leaving any areas white? You might consider that the center part of your leaf uses darker colors while the outer parts of your leaf use lighter colors. Or will your leaf be random colors? There is no right or wrong method, but considering how you want the overall appearance of the leaf to turn out is helpful.
STEP 7: Finishing Up
Once you have your leaf art activity completely colored in, you can step back and assess your work! I ended up adding some lighter yellows and pinks to the edges of the leaf, with a few darker fall colors like maroon, brown, and tan near the center and the stem.
STEP 8: To Paint or Not To Paint…..That is the Question
If you are happy with your project you can stop here! Easy Autumn Art Project for Kids Complete. However, if you want to put those watercolor pencils to good use and watch the colors pop, then you’ll want to paint over them with water. Anytime you add water over watercolor pencils, you’ll lose some of the pencil texture as the color lifts off the paper and blends into the water. You’ll also lose some of the gradient shading work we did with the pencils. I think both techniques produce amazing results so it’s all about your personal preference. I’m using a water brush in the photo above, but you can just dip a small paintbrush in water as well.
STEP 9: To Paint!
Once you decide to paint, you’ll quickly notice that your colors will POP when wet! I carefully painted water over each section and I did try to retain some of the gradient shading as well as some of the texture from the pencils. The key is to use a tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny amount of water. :)
STEP 10: Watercolor Paper
One thing to note is that you will see some paper distortion with the water, even with cardstock paper. This is one reason why the original art project included the use of watercolor paper. However, using a very small amount of water will mitigate this and still produce amazing results.
STEP 11: Completed Project!
Once you paint over each section of your leaf you’re finished! Simply let the paper dry and decide how you will display your beautiful fall leaf masterpiece! Here are a few that we completed using different color palette and techniques:
Oak Fall Leaf Art Project for Kids
Here is an example of selectively leaving some sections white. Consider that as the fall season progresses with weather and decomposition taking over that some fall leaves become very transparent with veins showing through. Leaving some parts of your art project white is a fun way to represent these fall beauties.
Poplar Fall Leaf Art Project for Kids
Here is another example where 3-D elements were considered in the color placement choice. This poplar leaf has such geometry to it, that coloring in a pattern really helps it pop! Additionally, the color palette was laid down from dark to light so it appears the leaf has an ombre effect adding to the visual interest. You can also experiment with different colors and hues using the same leaf. I think this brown version almost looks like a pinecone!