Carving Leaves and Foliage into Wood
Leaves are one of the most common decorative elements carved into ornamental wood pieces, and it is definitely a skill worth having from the beginning to master woodcarver. Although tree leaves have almost infinite network of veins, you can capture the essence of the leaf by focusing on the primary and some secondary arrangements of veins.
The first step is to create at least a low relief of the shape of your leaf by cutting in around the leaf shape removing the wood around it until your shape takes form.
Then, cut in to define the primary and secondary veins. Once you are satisfied with the initial modeling of your leaves, you can add more surface detail or added veining. Keep in mind some leaves are quite smooth in texture and others are rougher. Also, when considering vein detail, keep in mind that veins become narrower and thinner as they work out from the center to the edge.
Use your woodcarving tools to carve more shallow veins along the outside and deeper towards the central primary vein design. The best way to develop a realistic technique for leaf woodcarving is to understand and utilize a variety of woodcarving tools.
A good understanding of your blade choices and other tools will help you immensely when executing foliage. Practice carving one leaf, then a cluster of leaves. With practice, patience and the right tools, you will soon master beautiful leaf and foliage wood-carved designs.