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Sketching Trees

Sketching trees might seem difficult at first, with the complex branches and vast number of leaves to be dealt with. However, by first observing the overall form and ignoring small details, trees becomes much easier to draw. Don't worry about the leaf shapes, but concentrate on the way they are grouped - ball-shaped bunches or flat sprays, for example. Try squinting to reduce detail as you look for the forms.

drawing trees
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Begin by sketching the trunk and main branches. Observe lines of the trunk and branches, and note any visible root system. Loosely outline the main clumps of foliage. This line is just an indication of the position, so keep the marks light to begin with and don't worry about mistakes. Now add in the main areas of tone, shading the dark areas and leaving brighter areas clear. Drawing from life is important, so that the highlights and shadows all make sense, depending on the angle of the sun.

Every tree is different, and each will present its own challenges. You can use the 'negative space' method of drawing in small areas of darks behind a light-coloured group of leaves, or erase and redefine. Try not to get sidetracked into drawing individual leaves, but allow your pencil marks to indicate the texture of the foliage.

tree photo Accentuate atmospheric perspective to create depth. Notice how the distant tree is a smooth light tone, while the bark texture is clearly visible on the closer tree. Try using soft indistinct marks for more distant shapes, crisper marks for closer areas. Light areas and grass can be removed with an eraser or added with white conte. Experiment with different types of pencil strokes - regular hatching, crosshatching, smooth shading, and vigorous random marks.

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