Landscapes, Painting

How to Paint Trees in 4 Easy Steps

June 4, 2014

By Alina Bradford

Trees come in all shapes and sizes, but a landscape artist can learn how to paint trees in five easy steps. These simple steps can be adjusted to work with different tree types, like deciduous and evergreen trees, and with different seasons.

To follow each step, please see the illustrations at the bottom of the article.


Step One for Painting Trees: Draw the Trunk and Branches

All trees need a sturdy foundation, that’s why the trunk and branches are drawn first. The artist should avoid drawing with a pencil and instead use a liner brush or a pointed round brush for loose, realistic strokes.

Here are the steps for drawing a tree with a brush:

  1. Load the brush with the trunk color.
  2. Lightly touch the brush tip to the canvas and increase the pressure while pulling the brush downward. This will be the trunk.
  3. With a narrower brush, use the same type of stroke used to create the trunk to create the branches. Make sure that the widest part of the stroke is against the trunk. For more realism, the artist can let the hand waver back and forth so that the branch isn’t perfectly straight.


Step Two to Painting Trees: Add Shadows to the Trunk and Branches

While the paint is still wet, load a smaller brush with the shadow color and repeat the trunk brush stroke on the side of the trunk that has the least light. Blend the edges with a small dry brush for a natural look.

Step Three to Tree Painting: Paint the Dark Leaves

Adding leaves to the tree is the obvious next step, but they shouldn’t all be painted the same color. Start the leaf painting process by painting the dark areas first.

Here is how to paint leaves:

  1. Dab an old, raggedy brush in the darkest shade of green.
  2. Lightly dab the brush on a rag.
  3. Dab the brush onto the branches in a quick motion. Make sure to leave holes for the sky to show through since no tree is one huge mass of leaves.

Step Four to Tree Painting: Paint the Lighter Leaves

With the same painting process described in step two, paint the lighter colored leaves overlapping the upper edges of the darker leaves. Make
sure to do this process while the paint is still wet on the darker leaves. This will blend the two colors slightly, giving the tree more depth.

Using this technique, the artist can begin to paint realistic trees in landscape painting. With practice, this technique can be adjusted to fit a variety of needs.

Here is another way to paint trees:

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