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Steve Greaves

Photorealism Painting

Techniques & Methods

Dock Leaf in the Grass - Painting Tutorial

Steve Greaves - Dock Leaf - A painting still in progress.

Dock Leaf in the Grass

Photorealism Botanical Painting in Progress

1. Dock Leaf Reference Photograph

Steve Greaves - Dock Leaf - photo

The Photo was taken with a Nikon F50

SLR film Camera with a 35-70 zoom lens.


It was taken outdoors with natural sunlight 

creating backlighting and shadows. 

No reflectors or fill-in flash were used.


The photo was printed 9 x 7 ins by a 

professional lab. I scanned the print and

printed out an A2 size print using a photo

quality inkjet printer and matt photo paper. 


2. Copying & Transferring the Image

Steve Greaves - Dock Leaf - photorealism drawing

Dock Leaf - Photorealism Drawing

The Photorealism Drawing ready to be transferred 

onto Watercolour Paper.


The image was copied onto A2 transparent 

acetate with a fine pigment pen - then from 

that onto A2 tracing paper using the same 

pen. Then the image was redrawn on the 

back of the tracing paper with a soft (2B) pencil. 


Finally the image was traced through the 

paper onto TH Saunders Waterford 200lb

Watercolour Paper using a hard (6H) pencil. 

In this case, the paper was not stretched, 

just taped to a board with masking tape as 

the Technique used for this Photorealism

Painting is almost a dry-brush effect with no 

heavy washes of Watercolour Paint.


Tracing is not an easy option. It can 

take days of intense accurate drawing to 

transfer a detailed image such as this.


Pigment pens are used on the acetate and 

tracing papers but the image is always laid 

down onto the support in pencil. A putty rubber 

is used to remove any excess pencil marks.

4. Photorealism Painting Technique

Steve Greaves - Dock Leaf - photorealism painting detail

Dock Leaf - Photorealism Painting Technique

Detail from Photorealism Painting in Progress


The Dock Leaf Painting is being built up gradually 

using several transparent layers of Artists' Quality 

Watercolour Paint. Blue-greens are being used for 

the first two or three washes of colour, Terre 

Verte being the dominant base colour. 


The main Paint Brush being used at this stage is a

Winsor & Newton Series 7 size 5 Sable brush.

Yellows, browns, blues and purples will

be added at a later stage.


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