Botanical Illustration: Tips on leaf shapes - March 3rd 2013

Story posted: Sunday, 3. March 2013 by Lizzie Harper

Watercolour illustration of Corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas). Also referred to as Flanders poppy.

Although you can always draw what you see, and get lovely results; sometimes a bit of background botany can prove invaluable when undertaking a scientific illustration of a plant.


One of the main aspects to consider is the leaf of the plant.  The first thing to do is to figure out if you’re drawing a dicot or a monocot.  Monocots include grasses, palms, and orchids and have leaves with parallel veins (amongst other characteristics).

Diagram of monocot vs dicot

Monocot                                          Dicot


The next thing to observe is whether your plant has leaves opposite one another, or spaced alternately up a stem .  Getting this right will really make an illustration look convincing; if you get it wrong it often lets the whole image down.

Now you need to decide on the shape of your plant’s leaf, and simultaneously look at a dictionary of botanical terms of leaf shapes.  The easiest way to keep your nerve is to consult a picture guide (there are lots of variations of these online).

I’ve chosen a few of the commonest leaf shapes, and hope that you can see the similarity between the line diagrams which I did for Wild Flowers of Britain and Ireland by Spencer-Jones and Cutter, and some of my finished illustrations.


These are long and very narrow leaves.

Linear leaf diagram

The upper leaves of a cornflower have linear leaves.

Cornflower by Lizzie Harper

Cornflowers also show that you have to be careful to look at a whole plant; often leaves at the top of a stem will be a completely different shape to those at the bottom.



These leaves are roughly egg-shaped, and wider at the base (there’s not a diagram for this one though).  Lots of plants carry this shape of leaf, including the beech.

Botanical illustration of beech by lizzie harper



Leaves made of two rows of leaflets;

diagram of pinnate leaf by lizzie harper

the ash, and the scabious are odd pinnate since they only have one leaf at the tip; if they had a pair at the tip they’d be even pinnate.

Botanical illustration of ash by Lizzie Harper

Botanical illustration scabious by Lizzie Harper


A leaf shaped like a hand with fingers,

Diagram of palmate leaf by Lizzie Harper

the most obvious example is the horse chestnut or conker tree.

Botanical illustration of Horse Chestnut by Lizzie Harper



Lobed leaves have deeply indented margins.

Diagram of a lobed leaf by Lizzie Harper

A common example is an oak leaf, or an ivy.

Botanical illustration of ivy leaf by Lizzie Harper

Botanical sketch of oak by Lizzie Harper

There are many, many other common leaf shapes; and it may well be worth printing off one of the leaf shape worksheets mentioned earlier and refer to it when drawing plants.  This will help you be certain about your specimen’s shape, and also familiarise you with the terms which litter flower guides liberally.

Two other features to think about before beginning your leaf illustration are what the edge or margin of the leaf is doing (smooth?  Toothed?); and what shape the network of veins make on the leaf.

Despite seeming like an enormous amount of things to consider before putting pencil to paper, it does help a drawing to give a quick thought to these matters.  However, if it all seems rather dry and over-whelming; the best advice is to observe really carefully and draw what you see!  Happy leaf illustrating, and many thanks to Debbie Crawford for suggesting this blog topic.

Browse the gallery: Botanical Illustrations

Category:  Biological terminology   |   Comments:  1   |   Viewed:  9427

Go back to the list of news stories

Comments are off for this news article.

mhllg cxemu# for 33% zsomsj2

Thursday, 22. May 2014, 16:16:17 – tjerjstgo:

Campanaro ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds at the NFL scouting combine and had a 39-inch vertical leap, a 10-2 broad jump, a 6.77 three-cone drill and bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times. [url=]bottega veneta outlet[/url] You find people organizing collections, said Almouhak. They will get enough money together, find themselves a truck and then go. Many simply want to find the animals they left with friends. f [url=]fake oakleys[/url] the current Barons up 87,433 to 84,308. [url=]cheap oakleys[/url] This decision has confirmed the EU's great determination to make sure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine is respected. There are various schools of escapism, but the common thread seems to be the solitary luxury that private binge viewing affords. Nobody wants to watch six episodes of Girls with a bloke in the room. Men will watch The Bridge, The Killing and Borgen with their women folk, and usually very long teeth. And no man can psychically endure a Real Housewives marathon of any origin. Probably a good thing, too. [url=]gucci replica[/url] I thought that the premise of the story was a strong one and was hoping that this , which collects the first six issues of the series, would deliver on that promise. It did, to some extent, but it did not quite live up to my hopes. First, the illustration of the story was sufficient if not superior. For me, the artwork is more of a supplemental aspect of the graphic novel. It the art is superior, then it simply adds to the story but it is the story and the writing that are the most important part for me (although that is my opinion and I know that others focus more on the art). Trifogli does a good job illustrating the story and the art went well with the story although it did not blow me away. I would give the art an average rating both in the quality as well as in how well it meshes with the story. m [url=]tn pas cher[/url] The Blytheville Courier News new paid system is an investment in our community [url=]cheap ray bans[/url] Villarreal 4 - 0 Rayo Vallecano f “The NEMA teams tracked tornado damage and the storms that were reported by trained spotters on Sunday,” said Berndt. “The damage that occurred in southeast Nebraska was significant and we are working with local emergency managers on needs assessments as well as preliminary damage reports.” [url=]bottega veneta outlet[/url] Sharp-tailed grouse are native to Wisconsin and once were found throughout the state. The birds flourished when the state was covered in grassland and other habitat that was often disturbed by wildfire. [url=]hogan outlet[/url] Synthetic Fibers [url=]tn pas cher[/url] kAm!2EC:4 pC DEC@?8k^Am How concerned are you considering the difficultly in putting a timetable on this? [url=]michael kors outlet[/url] MEMORIES 175 told of the demise of Eastbourne Bowling Club which has been a feature of Darlington's East Park for 106 years. "It was so sad to read," says Jean Breeze. "I have happy memories as my mother and father and two brothers all played, and as children we spent all our time in the park as we lived just round the corner." Jean has cuttings from the Evening Despatch newspaper of 1960 showing her mother, Margaret Olives, bowling the first ball of the new season because she was club president. The Despatch was The Northern Echo's sister paper. The headline it put above the lady bowlers must refer to a story elsewhere on the page. o [url=]cheap jordans[/url] The borough’s proclamation urges all residents to drive safely, exercise extreme caution to reduce accidents and casualties this summer and to remain sensitive to the increasing number of motorcycles on the road. [url=]fake ray bans[/url] On this Mother’s Day, we encourage all those readers fortunate enough to have their mothers in their lives to express their gratitude for the influence of these remarkable women, without whom our world would be a poorer place. The calendar may only designate one day a year for their celebration, but they deserve our love and respect year-round. An emergency call was made 8:52 a.m. last Wednesday to the Jeonnam 119 fire department, which transferred the call to the Mokpo coast guard office, the coast guard said in an emailed statement. The ferry made its first distress call three minutes later. [url=]cheap jordans[/url] Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Athletic Bilbao 1 - 1 Sociedad [url=]michael kors outlet[/url] Our Party must be committed to ensuring that the grassroots voice is heard, and that every one of us, in all 67 counties, has the tools to be successful in order to hold the Governor’s Mansion, Florida Cabinet and keeping majorities in the Florida Senate and Florida House. "I thought that there were some interesting facts, like that they used to mine coal everywhere," she said. [url=]hogan outlet[/url] Owing to a legal tangle over the merger of nearby villages, the election was postponed in Rajam and Srikakulam municipalities. m "Our hope is that people on their own will start picking up after their pets." [url=]cheap michael kors bags[/url] Moments later, Collard and his bandmates were screaming with jubilation and running to the stage. "I've learned things don't come right away, but with hard working you can be surprised with what you can accomplish," he says, speaking both of winning the competition and daily life as a musician. Related StoriesMay 12: [url=]gucci outlet[/url] The only other G-rated movies that might be designed for adult audiences and there s a lot of room for debate here are the Disney comedy College Road Trip (2008); the third in Disney s Santa Clause trilogy, The Escape Clause (2006); and the British import Mr. Bean s Holiday (2007), all three of them very juvenile comedies. q [url=]cheap oakleys[/url] Tucson city planners charged with creating regulations that cover urban agriculture hope to hash out the two interests in a couple of public meetings. The first one is Tuesday. [url=]michael kors outlet[/url] But various upheavals leave the inheritance in doubt. n But it didn’t take the Indians long to take out their early plate frustrations on the Rays bullpen. Three of the Indians hits came via home runs, much to the delight of the loud and large crowd of Tribe fans sitting behind the visitor’s third-base dugout. [url=]cheap jordans[/url] Futures were likely to find support at $4.446 per million British thermal units, the low from April 7 and resistance at $4.598, the high from May 9. t Mélenchon specializes in making cynical, limited criticisms of government policy, remaining entirely within the boundaries of pro-imperialist politics. He complains, “François Hollande's alignment on the international policy of the United States has made France largely inaudible in the Ukrainian crisis.” [url=]fake oakleys[/url] The asked the to extend federal recognition to the couples married in Arkansas, making them eligible for the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples. [url=]cheap jordans for sale[/url] Crisco was born to a Republican family on a Stanly County dairy farm in North Carolina, he said in an interview last month. [url=]tn pas cher[/url] Andrews, Abele's community relations director, suggested the retirees could make individual appointments with the county's retirement system manager, but said full answers aren't expected for some time. Abele was booked with back-to-back appointments Thursday and couldn't meet with the retirees, she said. x [url=]tn pas cher[/url] The ACC voted Monday to maintain an eight-game conference schedule, .At the conference's spring meetings at Amelia Island, Fla., its athletic directors voted to keep an eight-game slate, with at least one non-conference game against a team from a power five conference starting in 2017.The ACC already has an agreement with Notre Dame for five of its teams to play the Fighting Irish each year, and those games would count toward the non-conference commitment.The SEC last month , maintaining an eight-game conference schedule with at least one power-five non-conference opponent on the schedule by 2016.Several the SEC's decision -- including Stanford's David Shaw, who said that as college football is going to a four-team playoff system, "we all need to play by the same rules."The 14-team ACC, like the SEC, had considered expanding its conference schedule to nine games but the athletic directors voted 8-6 to stay at eight, according to the report. [url=]cheap jordans[/url] I think the industry will accept it. The city is ahead of the game. They are planning in advance what they want developers to do. And the tenants don t have to spend a lot of time to find a location or going to some corner at the outskirts. This is a center ready to go. We want tenants to know about that and we want to start talking to them. Since