Art Ideas: Leaf Rubbing

Leaf rubbing is a way to bring out the shape and texture of leaves on paper using colored pencils like Prismacolor and other colored pencil brands. Leaves with raised veins or texture will make the most interesting leaf rubbings. Leaf rubbing is fun for all age groups.

Lesson Plan Suggestion: Leaf rubbings are a great activity to combine with nature walks or trips to a garden. The art rubbings bring out the vein structure of the leaves and help in the study of the components of plants.

  1. Find fresh or dried leaves with prominent veins on the back side. Ferns, oaks, maples and birches have leaves that work well for leaf rubbings. Avoid leaves like pine needles that are not flat and smooth.
  2. If you use fresh leaves, make a test rubbing first to make sure the leaves do not have so much sap in them that the sap seeps out and soaks into the paper.
  3. Organize your design by laying the leaves face down on a piece of scrap paper so that the underside of the leaf is facing up.
  4. Lay a piece of vellum or thin paper over the leaves. Onion skin paper or white tissue paper can also be used.
  5. Using a colored pencil, rub gently over the leaf without coloring outside the edges of the leaf. Hold the pencil sideways so that the tip is on its side on the paper. Rub over the entire area of the leaf and including the edges so that you can see the contrast of the outline of the leaf.
  6. Repeat the process with all the leaves in your design. Try using different colored pencils to get different effects.
  7. Use a glue stick or other adhesive on the back of the vellum or thin paper and attach to the My Art Card template card.
  8. You can also tear or use special scissors to make an textured edge to your leaf rubbing paper and then attach to another piece of colored card stock first before attaching to the My Art Cards template to make an even more layered design.
  9. Or alternatively, cut around the shape of the leaves and glue to the My Art Cards template.

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