Do your drawings of tress look a little cartoonish? Well, we’ll take care of that right now. In this challenge, we’ll draw a realistic tree.  Trees come in all different shapes and sizes and consist of lines and shapes that change directions abruptly.There are many different ways to approach drawing a tree based on the species and the time of year. The manner in which you would draw a tree in the fall will undoubtably be different than the summer. In this drawing tutorial, we’ll take a look at one method to drawing a tree.  The steps outlined here can be applied to any type of tree that you may want to draw.  It is best to work from a reference to create a truly representational tree.   This reference could be a live tree or a photo.


Step 1 – Begin by drawing lines to indicate the trunk of the tree and a few lines for the branches of the tree.  It may help to draw the trunk and the branches “as the tree grows”, from the ground up.  The lines may also taper at the end, just as the branches do in reality.  Be sure to keep these lines “organic” and loose.  Stiff, deliberate lines will not translate as natural branches.

How to draw a tree step 1

Step 2 – Continue to draw lines for the branches.  These lines will become a structure in which to add the leaves later in the drawing.  Or if the tree is missing leaves, the lines will become the visible branches.How to draw a tree step 2

Step 3 – Next, we’ll define the canopy of the tree by drawing lines to indicate the edges.  These lines can be loose and light as they are simply added to help understand the form of the tree.  Again, be organic with these shapes.  A tree is seldom perfectly symmetrical, so imperfection is actually encouraged here.

How to draw a tree step 2a

Step 4 – At some point, you’ll need to consider the light source.  Decide where the light source will originate.  In this example, the light source is coming from the upper left side.  This means that the leaves, trunk, and branches will have shadows and highlights based on this location.  For the trunk, the core shadows will exist on the right side of the tree or the opposite side of the light source.  As the shadow is added, consideration is given to the texture of the trunk.  Lines are used to create the illusion of texture.  Greater concentrations of lines will translate as darker shadows on the tree.

How to draw a tree step 3

Step 5 – Now with the trunk complete, we’ll need to start adding texture for the leaves of the tree.  Here again, we’ll consider the light source. There should be darker values created by the texture on the underside of the canopy of the tree.  Lesser concentrations of the texture will appear lighter and should be applied to the tops of the canopy of the tree. The textural marks that are made here should stay within the confines of the lines that defined the canopy in step 3.  Remember, don’t draw the individual leaves of the tree.  Instead, focus on drawing a texture that appears as a concentration of leaves. How to draw a tree step 4

Step 6 – It may take a while to develop the texture necessary to create the illusion of leaves, but take your time and work slowly.  It will be worth the time when you are complete.  You also will need to add a bit of cast shadow behind the tree.  If the tree is on a grassy surface, this illusion can be created by concentrating lines that extend upward (like grass grows).  The more concentrated the lines, the darker the cast shadow.How to draw a tree step 5


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