Sunday, 25 October 2015

How To Draw: Trees

Trees are more than parts of the landscape. Get close to one and you will see that it has a character and a personality that seperates it from the other trees surrounding it. Trees like oaks and beeches are the best examples of this, especially ones that have been growing for hundreds of years. There are so many ways to draw these trees thanks to the shapes created by the various number of branches, hollowed or arched trunks and the different colours in the leaves throughout the seasons. With so many possibilities to draw, it makes these woody giants a real challenge. But it doesn't matter if you are drawing one or a forest of them, if you keep practising, you will soon find that trees are a fun subject to do.

Stage One
To begin with, draw in the rough size and shape of your tree. At this stage, just focus on the trunk and the general shape of the tree's canopy, don't worry about the branches just yet. If you are drawing a mature oak tree like I am, the trunk can be wide but short  compared to the canopy which can be wider and large. If you are drawing trees with tall, slender trunks like pines or birches, then all you need to do is to draw two lines parallel to each other with the rough shape of the canopy above it. Remember to draw the trunk arched or leaning slightly if your tree aquires it.

Stage Two

The best place to start after you have drawn the basic shapes is the trunk. Start at the base of your tree, the roots, and work your way up. Add any detail to the bark along the way such as growths, holes, grooves, etc. When you reach the canopy, don't draw the branches yet. Instead, just mark out where the main limbs begin with two lines with a gap between them. The only exception for now are the lower branches, you can draw them a little bit further until they begin to spread into thinner branches.

Stage Three
Before we get to the branches, redraw the trunk in pen. This way you will be less in a muddle later and it also gives you a chance to adjust the size and shape of the trunk. When adjusting the trunk's size, start at the one side with the most lower branches on it, then using features like growths, etc or even when adding the bark's texture (a light scribble will do nicely for that) to help you reach the other side. Add a bit of texture to the ground too (again, a simple scribble will do).

Stage Five
Stage Four
With the trunk redrawn in ink, it is now time to deal with those pesky branches. What I do is not to draw every branch at once, but to work on the tree in sections. Work on one section at a time, first in pencil (Stage Four) and again in pen (Stage Five) before working on the next section of the tree. It is best to be observent when drawing branches. On each section, pay attention to how each branch grows. Shade in the more wavy, overlapping ones and leave the other ones as double lines that get thinner the further away from the tree it gets.

Stage Six
Eventually, you will get a tree full of branches like this. If your tree has a cover of leaves, you will not need to worry too much about the branches. But instead of drawing every leaf individually (unless they are large and quite noticable), just shade and scribble in the area and density of leaves. If your tree has clumps of leaves like my oak tree does, then when redrawing the branches in pen, leave a gap in the branch's structure and do a patch of light scribbles.

Stage Seven

If you want to add other trees surrounding your tree, then this is how to do it, otherwise skip these stages to the colouring stage. First draw a line for the horizon just a quarter way up from the base of the trunk. Then add your trees in (which should be simple line structures). The trees closer to your main tree are drawn below the horizon line, while trees further away are above or on the line. For foreground trees, draw a line representing side of a tree trunk partially overlapping parts of your main tree's branches and shade in and add any details such as growths and pertruding branches, etc. 
Stage Eight

Redraw in pen, shading in the ground and any background vegitation in the process.

Stage Nine

Colour in your tree and background. Here, the trees bark have a light coating of brown and applying green over the top of it. I went a bit impressionistic with the leaves. As it is autumn, I scribbled in patches of orange, green and yellow and overlapped each colour slightly. Then I used my pen to scribble in some texture and to make the impression of very thin branches. I used my pen on the ground too to create texture.

And that is how I draw trees. Of course every tree is different, but the drawing technique is the same. Some trees have blotchy bark, but this effect is simple enough to do by shading differently to other parts of the bark. The four seasons will give you more reasons to draw trees, as a diciduous tree will appear differently with each season. Evergreen trees, such as pines and yews, won't change too much throughout the year, but can also be great to draw too. So get out there, kick up some leaves and draw some trees near you!

1 comment:

  1. Very good, as always! Love your How to draw series!