Fall Leaf Art Project

by Shopify API
Fall Leaf Prints

Happy fall, y'all! There's no better way to appreciate the beauty of the season than to go out in nature and do what we love most around here—make ART with it! This easy mini-tutorial suitable for all ages shows you how to make prints of fall leaves using gelli printing. It's also a great way to learn about negative and positive prints!

What You Need

5x7 Printing Plate
5x7 Printing Plate

5x7 Printing Plate

4" Roller
4" Roller

4" Roller

Americana Acrylic Paint 2oz Bottles
Americana Acrylic Paint 2oz Bottles
Americana Acrylic Paint 2oz Bottles
Americana Acrylic Paint 2oz Bottles
Americana Acrylic Paint 2oz Bottles
Americana Acrylic Paint 2oz Bottles
Americana Acrylic Paint 2oz Bottles
Americana Acrylic Paint 2oz Bottles

Americana Acrylic Paint 2oz Bottles

paper (cardstock works best)


  • silicone mat (best alternative)
  • sheet of plastic or plexiglass (may compromise texture transfer)
  • sheet of craft foam
  • DIY gelatin plate

Step 1: Collect Leaves

Go on a nature walk! Grab a friend or trick-or-"treat" yourself to some alone time and admire all the warm and bright colors October brings. As you're walking and enjoying the fresh air, find the prettiest leaves to collect and take with you. Be sure to grab all kinds of sizes and shapes—sometimes with art, what we have in mind doesn't always work out, so it's better to have more than enough variety than too little! 

two girls holding up big fall leaves

Step 2: Select Your Favorites

After you've filled the pockets of your cardigan with leaves and finished the last sip of your apple cider, head on back to your creative space to lay out all the treasures you collected! It's time to organize the leaves by size or shape and figure out which ones would best suit your vision. How big your gelli plate or the alternative you are using will determine which size of leaves would fit best. The best results are when the entire leaf from stem to tip fits on the plate, but if you have an idea in mind that just uses parts of the leaves, go for it! This is YOUR project.

(TIP: When attempting to fit the entire leaf on your gelli plate, if it doesn't fit completely when laying it down vertically, try laying it down diagonally!

page filled with real fall leaves in all different sizes and colors

Step 3: Paint the Plate

It's time to paint! Once you've picked out your desired acrylic paint colors, simply add a few drops of paint to your gelli plate and use the roller to spread it across the surface in a thin, even layer. Acrylic paint doesn't take long to dry, so you'll want to work rather quickly in the next few steps! (But don't feel like you need to rush—you have some time!)

paint being spread on gelli roll using roller

Step 4: Placing the Subject

Carefully place your leaf, textured side down (the backside of the leaf), on top of the paint layer. Once you have laid it down, DO NOT MOVE IT. This will compromise the texture in your print! 

a leaf being placed on painted gelli plate

Step 5: First Pull (Positive Print)

Now we are going to begin the process of our first pull. A pull is what we call the print you get after pressing it down and lifting it up to reveal the art. Gently place a piece of paper on top of the gelli plate with the leaf on it. Press down on the paper, making sure to press across the entire area. Once you have applied pressure to every area of paper that touches the gelli plate, slowly peel the paper away from you. For extra help, watch this clip from our art journaling artist Jesse Petersen's Feather Print tutorial to see how it's done.

a hand pressing down paper on top of gelli plate
a paper slowly being lifted off of gelli plate, revealing part of the first print

This is your "positive" or silhouette print! We call this a positive print because it is pulling the image on the plate. 

four different colored positive prints of fall leaf shapes

Step 6: Second Pull (Negative Print)

Very slowly and oh so carefully, lift the leaf off of the gelli plate. Then, using a separate piece of paper, lay the paper over the top and rub! Be sure to rub evenly and vigorously to get all the paint transferred to the paper. Gently peel the paper away from you.

This is what your gelli plate will look like after pulling off the leaf.

close up of gelli plate after leaf has carefully been lifted away

This type of print is called your "negative" or detailed print! We call this a negative print because it is pulling from the object itself. 

Fun Fact: If you pull another print from this immediately after pulling your negative print, you'd get something called a "ghost print", which is just a lighter version of your negative. Its barely-there result is what gives it its name!

multiple pieces of paper showing different colored prints, both positive and negative, or silhouette and detailed

Step 7: Get Creative

Now is where you can get creative with it! Make a collage, make individual prints, or try something you've never seen before. This project is great to do just for fun or to finish off with a cute frame to make festive home decor! 

stylized image showing multiple pieces of paper with several different colored prints of leaves in all different shapes and sizes

Go the extra mile and play with markers or Posca paint pens to outline your leaves! 

silhouette prints with outlined detail of leaves using posca paint pens
silhouette prints with outlined detail of leaves using posca paint pens

Share yours with us!

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