Drawing, Guides, Sketching

How to Draw Trees Guide

May 29, 2014
How to measure a tree for drawing using your pencil.

How to measure a tree for drawing using your pencil.

There are many different types of trees. This guide will show you how to draw leaves, deciduous trees and pine trees.

How to Draw Leaves of All Types

Whether you draw landscapes, still lifes, or florals, at one time or another you will have to draw a leaf. Since they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, it can be intimidating. Here are some tips to make drawing a leaf the least of your worries. 

leaf sketchesDrawing the Leaf’s Shape 

When drawing a leaf, take a look at the overall shape. Flower leaves are generally rounder in shape than tree leaves. Tree leaves usually have a more triangular form. Draw the basic shape onto your paper a little bigger than the leaf you want to draw. Then, draw the leaf inside the shape, following the general line you started with. By following the guide you should end up with a pretty accurate version of the real thing. 

Adding Line and Shading 

The use of line when drawing a leaf is very important.  Leaves are not composed of perfectly straight lines. More likely than not your leaf will be drawn with many squiggly lines, so keep your hand loose as you draw. 

Lines can also identify the age of your leaf. Thin sharp lines should be used for dried, crackled leaves, while bolder, softer lines should be used healthy leaves. 

Another thing to notice when you draw a leaf is whether or not it is shiny or fuzzy, smooth or rough. Rose leaves are shiny and smooth. To draw this texture you will need to use sharp, defined shading and highlights. 

On the other hand, African violets have fuzzy, soft leaves. These can be drawn by using softer lines. The fuzz can be draw with small tugs on your pencil in places that are more lit. Let the shadows be just soft shading. 

Drawing Veins 

The veins in the leaves spur off of one main vein in the center that goes from the tip to the stem. These veins are not symmetrical on each side as you can see in my example. They stem off from the main vein and flow out to the farthest points on the leaf. 

Sometimes there are also smaller veins that flow out of the larger veins, but they usually don’t reach the outer edges of the leaf. 

How to Draw and Sketch Deciduous Trees: A Step-by-Step Demo

Demo Picture OneTo draw trees properly, the artist has to understand a little about trees. Trees come in two types. Deciduous trees have leaves that are shed in the fall and grow back in the spring.Evergreen trees have needles or foliage that stay green all year long. 

Because these trees are different, they need to be drawn with different techniques. Here is a step-by-step demo of how to draw deciduous trees. To learn how to draw evergreen trees see this demo. 

Step One: Drawing the Trunk 

how to draw a tree 1The first step is drawing the trunk. The trunks of deciduous trees are usually bumpy and gnarled, so straight lines should be avoided. To do this, the artist should make short, quick dashes to define the trunk. 

The illustration shows how the trunk should look as if it is emerging from the ground by having the tops of its roots showing. These should be drawn the same way, with short, quick dashes of the pencil. 

Step Two: Drawing the Bark 

how to draw a tree 2The bark on a deciduous tree varies, so the artist must take the time to observe the tree. Some barks are smooth, while others are full of ridges. The bark on the tree in the example has fairly rough bark, so the pencil was turned on its side and strokes were made with short, dashing movements. 

Step Three: Drawing the Branches 

To draw the branches of a deciduous tree, the artist should remember one simple step: the branches are ‘V’ shapes that turn into progressively smaller ‘V’ shapes. 
how to draw a tree 3
Put simply, the artist can draw the trunk splitting into a ‘V’. Then, each arm of the ‘V’ will split into a smaller ‘V’. The artist can keep doing this until the treetop is full of branches. The artist should remember, though, to overlap the branches to create depth. 

On different types of trees, the ‘V’s of the branches will be wider or narrower, but the rule still holds true. 

Step Four: Drawing the Leaves

how to draw a tree 4Leaves can be added by using the side of the lead of the pencil in long, sweeping strokes. The strokes should be connecting with the ends of the branches, where the leaves grow, and should be varied in darkness for depth. This works well for trees that are distant to the viewer. 

Trees that are closer should have a little more detail, such as individual leaves drawn on the closer branches. 

Step Five: Finishing Details

To finish a tree, the artist should add shading around the ‘V’s in the branches and on the trunk. Since trees shades itself, light will be dappled and indirect, making for darker shadows and less highlights. 

These techniques can be used to draw almost any deciduous tree. The trick is to take these tips and to modify them for the type of tree that is being drawn.

How to Draw and Sketch Pine Trees: A Step-by-Step Demo

Demo Picture TreeDrawing and sketching pine trees is simple and can be done with short, dashing strokes of the pencil. 

Pine trees are drawn differently than deciduous trees because they grow differently. Identifying these differences and applying them to drawing the tree are important. Here is a step-by-step demo of how to draw a pine tree. To learn how to draw deciduous trees, see this demo. 

Step One: Drawing the Trunk 

How to draw a pine tree 1The trunk of an evergreen tree is usually quite straight, and grows to a point at the top of the tree. The bark is generally rough. This can be shown by using the edge of the pencil to draw short strokes in an irregular pattern. 

Step Two: Drawing the Branches

The branches of an evergreen tree are perpendicular to the trunk of the tree. The artist should not draw straight lines for the branches because this doesn’t look natural. Wavy, random lines are much more believable. These wavy lines split into a ‘V’ shape at the ends to form smaller branches. Usually, branches on pine trees only ‘V’ once. 

Evergreen drawingIn the illustration, the artist overlapped the lines of the branches to create depth. The branches come from the trunk from behind the trunk, the center, and the sides. The branches also get progressively shorter as they get closer to the top of the tree. This is because the higher the branches are, the younger they are. 

Step Three: Drawing the Needles 

Since this tree is a pine tree, the needles need to be added. Needles are drawn as little clusters of straight lines that come at the end of the branches, as shown in the illustration. 

nature sketchTo draw needle bunches, the artist should start by holding the end of the pencil farthest away from the lead for more range of motion. Then a straight line should be drawn for the center. More straight lines should be drawn coming from the center in various directions. Needles should overlap to create depth, as well. 

Needle bunches that are farther away from the viewer should look less defined. The top of the tree should be less defined, as well, with the needles overlapping and meshing in bunches. 

Step Four: Shading 

Evergreen FinishedThe tree should be finished by adding shading to the undersides of the branches and to the bark on the trunk.

Piles of fallen needles can be added to the base of the tree to add a touch of realism. This is done by drawing hatch marks on the ground around the tree. 

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