How to Draw a Tree – A Step-by-Step Tree Drawing Tutorial for Any Artist

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Although many of us have been drawing trees from a young age, they can sometimes be quite tricky to master. Too many branches and leaves can make your tree look fake and overcrowded, but too few can be just as problematic. In this drawing tutorial by our resident artist, we show you how to draw two different types of trees from scratch! With all of our tips and tricks, you will be on your way to drawing realistic and full-bodied trees in no time. 

Table of Contents

 

 

Different Types of Trees

There are countless species of trees around the world, ranging from those with large and luscious green leaves to those with needles and cones. In this detailed drawing tutorial, we are going to provide you with the steps for drawing both of these types of trees. We will begin first with a leafy tree that resembles an oak and finish with a conifer or pine tree tutorial.

Tree Drawing

 

 

Leafed Tree Drawing Tutorial

Once you have all of your supplies gathered, and a cup of your favorite beverage, sit down somewhere comfortable. Maybe put on an episode of your favorite podcast or TV show, and let us dive right into this leafy tree drawing tutorial!

Tree Drawing Tutorial

 

Step 1: Constructing the Tree Trunk

Before you even put pencil to paper, try to find the center point of your piece of paper or canvas. Using this central point, draw a vertical construction line to represent the main trunk of your leafy tree. The most important part of this first step is making sure that you leave enough space all around the main trunk construction line because we will be adding much more detail all around it.

tree drawing 1

 

Step 2: Constructing the Branches

Our top tip when drawing these initial construction lines is to make sure that you draw them very lightly. You will be using them as a basis for the next few steps, but you will need to erase them. The purpose of these construction lines is to help you get a realistic shape of your tree branches. Begin drawing a few branches that flow out with curved and arched lines from the main trunk construction line. You do not want to begin drawing your branches at the bottom of your trunk construction line, rather begin about a quarter of the way up. The lowest branches should be drawn almost horizontally, and as you get further towards the top of the tree, they should start to angle upwards more and more.

Tip: You want to have some of your branches split off at the ends, to create more volume in your branches. Make sure that you do not give too many of your branches split ends, or else your tree will begin to look a little clustered. 

tree drawing 2

 

Step 3: Identifying Your Baseline

In this step, we are drawing another essential construction line that will help you achieve the best arc to your tree’s general shape. Draw a single horizontal baseline below the bottom branches that you drew in the previous step. You want to take this line outwards just beyond the end of your longest branches.

At this point, your tree should be looking a little something like this.  

tree drawing 3

 

Step 4: Constructing the Arching Shape of Your Tree

In this step, you are going to use the horizontal baseline you just drew to create an overarching shape for your tree. Using the main trunk construction line as the central point, draw an incomplete circle. This incomplete circle should begin on one end of the horizontal baseline and finish on the other. This arching shape will help you to get the right overall shape for your tree, and we will use this to place leaves and branches in the following steps.

Tip: This incomplete circle is not a halfmoon shape. Rather, you can imagine that the circle would completely encompass the entire main trunk construction line, but you are simply going to stop drawing it at the horizontal baseline. 

tree drawing 4

 

Step 5: Outlining the Tree Trunk

This fifth step is deceivingly simple but vitally important to get right at this stage of the tree drawing process. Using the main trunk construction line from the first step as your foundation, draw the outline of the trunk on either side of it. You want to add some curves and bumps to enhance the realism, so this step is best done freehand. You can begin drawing the trunk at the bottom of the main construction line and end it at the bottom of the horizontal baseline. You can complete this step by drawing a few small curved lines at the very bottom of the trunk to give the indication of some roots.

Tip: Ideally, you want to leave a somewhat even gap on either side of the middle construction line. 

tree drawing 5

 

Step 6: Adding Bark Details to Your Tree Trunk

In this step, we are beginning to add the first bits of final detail to our trees. We are starting with the trunk because we have already outlined it. The bark details you add to your trunk are going to be unique, much like a fingerprint. Begin by drawing several dark curved lines within the trunk of your tree. These lines and oval shapes can change from thick to thin, flowing towards both ends of the trunk.

tree drawing 6a

Now, you can use thinner lines to draw abstract curves and ovals in and around the darker lines you have just drawn. The exact pattern is up for individual artistic expression. These curved lines should follow the primary curve of the tree trunk, and you can also make them appear to wrap around the curves of the tree trunk. Continue to draw these lines, until you are happy with your bark and it looks a little something like the image below.

Tip: Do not be afraid to extend these details above the horizontal baseline, as these details will ultimately bleed into the leaves and branches within the arc. 

tree drawing 6b

 

Step 7: Outlining the Shape of the Tree Canopy

In this step of the tree drawing tutorial, we are going to create the general outline of the tree canopy. For this outline, you can use one single continuous line, that dips in and out of the construction arc. Within this continuous canopy line, you want to have sharp curves and arches, that represent the outlines of many leaves. At the bottom of the horizontal baseline, you can wrap this canopy outline around the points where your bark detailing extends above.

Tip: You can use the branch construction lines to help you map out the dips and points of your canopy outline. Once you have finished your outline, you can erase any and all remaining construction lines. 

tree drawing 7

 

Step 8: Filling Out the Leaves in Your Tree Canopy

The first part of this step involves choosing a few areas of the canopy where the branches will poke through the leaves. You can draw some abstract and curved patches which you will leave blank. After you have chosen your blank areas, you can begin to fill the rest of the tree canopy with leaves. You can easily give the impression of leaves with small curved lines and dots. Vary the size and shapes of these lines and dots to add variety to your leafy canopy.

Tip: This step is likely to take you a good while, but the more time you spend adding these details, the more realistic and intricate your final tree will be!

tree drawing 8

 

Step 9: Detailing Your Tree Branches

This step is a real step up in the realism of your tree drawing. Using the empty patches you left in the last step, begin to draw little detailed branches poking through. If you left the branch construction lines in, you can use these to plan your branches, or you can freehand draw them. You can add the same curved line details to these small branches as you did for the trunk, to add texture and enhance the realism.

These short curved lines and dots, add another layer to your drawing and bring the whole tree together.

tree drawing 9a

You will see on our example drawing, that we have some small branches that poke out the edges of the leaf canopy. To these branches, we have added small details of baby branches and little leaves, and you can do the same if you have any branches like this.

tree drawing 9b

 

Step 10: Adding the First Splashes of Color

The first splashes of color we add are going to be to the branches and the tree trunk. You can add color with the medium of your choice, be that paint or colored pencils. Use a light to medium brown shade as your base color, and carefully color in each of the dainty branches and the main tree trunk. One of the most important parts of tree trunks drawings is getting the color right.

Tip: You do not want to go in with a very dark brown immediately. If you start with a very dark brown, you will not be able to add extra shading details in the next steps. 

tree drawing 10

 

Step 11: Adding Color Highlights and Shadows

In this step, we are going to use a small amount of darker and lighter colors to add some extra depth and realism to our tree sketch. Begin with a slightly darker shade of brown, and lightly add this color to areas of the tree trunk and branches. It is best to add these darker shadows to the bottom of branches, or around the edges of the tree trunk as it retreats into the background.

Tip: Adding shadow and highlight to the branches and trunk of your tree will make your drawing appear more realistic because it enhances the effect of three-dimensionality. 

Highlights are the other side of the shadow coin, and equally as essential for creating the most realistic tree sketch possible. Depending on your personal preference, you can either create highlights by leaving areas lighter when adding your shadows, or you can use a lighter color like white, to add touches of brightness.

tree drawing 11

 

Step 12: Adding Luscious Green to Your Tree Canopy

In this step, we are going to add a single layer of a light green color to the leaves in our tree canopy. We recommend using a fairly light green color because we will be adding shadows with a darker shade in the next step. You can color the entire canopy with this single color in this step. If you are using paint, you may have to complete this step quite quickly, to avoid certain areas drying faster and darker than others.

Tip: Remember to color in the little leaves on the tips of your branches!

tree drawing 12

 

Step 13: Adding Shadow and Shading to Your Canopy

Just as we added shading to the tree branch to add depth and dimension, we are going to do the same for the leaves. After the last step, our tree looks very flat, but with shading, we are going to highlight bunches of leaves that stick out towards us by adding shadow. The best color to use for this shading is light grey. Using “C” shapes, add touches of shadow throughout your leaf canopy.

Tip: Experiment with using curves in different directions, but it is best to follow the shapes of the leaves that you have already drawn. Around the edges, follow the curve of the canopy outlines. 

tree drawing 13

 

Step 14: Finalizing the Shadows and Highlights

Start this final step by adding another layer of light shading with an even lighter shade of grey. Add this shading to the same areas that you did for the previous step. This final layer of shading helps to diffuse the harsher shadow from the previous step and make it look more natural. Next, you can take a white shade of your paint or pencils, and add a highlight to the top of each of the bunches of leaves. Make sure that this highlight is well blended into the green color for the most realistic effect.

And just like that, you have drawn a leafy green tree! We hope that you have enjoyed this first tree drawing tutorial, continue down for the conifer drawing tutorial next.

tree drawing 14

 

 

Conifer Tree Drawing Tutorial

Now that we have covered how to draw a leafy tree, it is time to make learning how to draw a tree easy for anyone with this step-by-step tutorial. Conifer trees, or pine trees, can be quite tricky to get right, but with our easy-to-follow tutorial, you can draw one in no time! You can use the same equipment for this tutorial as you did for the previous one, so let us dive right into drawing trees.

How to Draw a Conifer Tree

 

Step 1: Constructing the Main Tree Trunk

Just as you did for the first tree drawing tutorial, the first thing you need to do is to find the center of your page or canvas. At this central point, draw a sharp vertical line that becomes thinner towards the top. This construction line represents the tree trunks drawings, and is essential for creating a realistic conifer tree sketch.

Tip: Remember to make sure that you have plenty of space all around this central construction line so that you have space for the tree branch drawing steps.

conifer drawing 1

 

Step 2: Constructing the Confier’s Roots

This second step is very quick and easy. All you need to do is draw four or five outward spreading curved lines from the bottom of the trunk construction line. In later steps, we will use these construction lines to draw the roots in our pine tree sketch.

conifer drawing 2

 

Step 3: Constructing the Base Outline of the Conifer Tree

One of the trickiest parts of drawing a pine tree is getting the shape correct. We use an easy construction triangle to help us get this shape spot on! Begin drawing an elongated triangle from the top point of the main trunk construction line. You can end the triangle slightly above the root construction lines.

Make sure that your triangle is even and extends the same distance on either side of the main trunk construction line. 

conifer drawing 3

 

Step 4: Outlining the Conifer Tree Trunk and Roots

In this step, we begin to use our construction lines to create the final shape of our conifer tree sketch. Using the main trunk construction line from the first step, draw a slightly curved line that goes ever-so-slightly inwards as it goes up. You can take both of these lines slightly above the triangle construction line. Once you have outlined the tree trunk, curve each side and outline the tree roots by spreading them with sharp and curved lines to either side.

Tip: Make sure that you keep the trunk construction line in the center of your trunk outline, with an even space on either side of it.

conifer drawing 4

 

Step 5: Adding Bark Details to the Tree Trunk

It is time to add some textural detail to the trunk of your conifer tree. You can easily add this bark texture by drawing a combination of long, short, and medium wavey lines inside the tree trunk. Remember to follow the general outline of the tree trunk, and keep these lines separate.

At the end of this step, your tree should be looking something like this.

conifer drawing 5

 

Step 6: Constructing the Branches

It is now time to use our construction triangle to guide our tree branch drawing. Begin drawing split branches on either side of the main trunk construction line. It is best to start at the bottom of the triangle, and you should vary the length of the branches according to the width of the triangle. These bottom branches will be longer and more spaced out than the ones at the very top. The bottom branches will also be mostly horizontal, and as you go up, you can start to angle them ever-so-slightly upwards. At the very top of the tree, draw some short branches that point upwards.

Tip: It is best to draw these branches freehand. Do not be afraid of drawing some branches slightly over the edge of the triangle construction line. 

conifer drawing 6

 

Step 7: Outlining the Shape of Your Branches

In this step, use the construction lines we drew in the previous step to help you with the tree branch drawing process. Begin at the bottom of the tree, drawing a single line with spikes and curves that roughly traces the bottom of the triangle.  The easiest way to get the texture of these branches right is to draw abstract “W” shapes that are joined together around the outline. These “W” spikes should always flow outwards from the center of the tree, never inwards.

Tip: Remember to trace around the branch construction lines, leaving an even amount of space on either side. 

conifer drawing 7

 

Step 8: Final Details and Outlines

In the previous step, you simply outlined the outer edges of the tree branches. In this step, you are going to carry this outline into the center of the tree body, covering the main trunk construction line. Use the construction lines from step 6 to guide these outline details, and use the same “W” shapes to capture the needle texture of the branches.

To give the tree a more three-dimensional appeal, add additional shrubs across the center of the trunk construction line. These additional shrubs should extend outwards in both directions, and drop downwards to give the impression that they are extending towards you. 

When you are happy with your branches, you can erase the construction lines that remain visible.

conifer drawing 8

 

Step 9: Adding the First Splash of Color

Just as we did in the leafy tree drawing tutorial, we are going to add the first bit of color to the trunk of our conifer tree. We suggest using a light brown shade for this first layer of color. You can color the trunk solidly with this light brown shade.

By the end of this step, your drawing could look something like this. 

conifer drawing 9

 

Step 10: Adding Details and Shadows to the Tree Trunk

For this step, we suggest using a darker shade of brown to add shadow and texture to the trunk. With your darker brown shade, follow the bark lines you drew in step five. Adding shadow along these lines makes the trunk appear more three-dimensional as if they were bulging outwards. You can add this shadow detailing to the roots of your conifer tree too.

conifer drawing 10

 

Step 11: Adding Color to the Conifer Needles

In the same way that we began coloring the trunk by using only one shade of color, we are going to use a single green shade to color in the branches of our conifer tree. We suggest using a fairly light shade of green, like grass green. With this green shade, color in the entirety of the branches, ensuring that your coloring is even throughout.

If you want to increase the realism of your conifer tree sketch, you can leave small patches between branches blank, as if there were little gaps.

conifer drawing 11

 

Step 12: Adding Shading to the Conifer Canopy

In our leafy tree sketch tutorial, we used a shade of light grey for the shading, and we are going to do the same for this tree. Choose a light to a medium shade of grey, and use it lightly to add shadows on the undersides of the branches, from the top of the tree to the bottom.

Shading on the underbelly of the branches will make them appear more three-dimensional and realistic.

conifer drawing 12

 

Step 13: Adding the Final Layer of Shading

In this step, you are simply going to add another layer of shading to emphasize the shadow and finalize your realistic-looking conifer sketch. You can use a slightly lighter shade of grey and apply it over and slightly around your previous shading. This method of shading will help diffuse your darker shadows and make them smoother and more realistic.

conifer drawing 13

 

We have come to the end of our tree drawing tutorials. We hope that you have found them enjoyable and informative, and that you feel more confident in your tree drawing abilities! 

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is It Difficult to Draw Different Types of Trees?

There is definitely a sense among many artists that trees are tricky to draw, but we think that if you follow the right steps, drawing trees is actually very simple and achievable! If you follow our step-by-step tree drawing tutorials, you will learn how to draw a tree of any kind.

 

Do You use Construction Lines to Draw a Conifer Tree?

Yes. We always use construction lines in all of our drawing tutorials because they help ensure that you have the right shape and proportions before you begin adding details.

 

Can Anyone Follow this Tree Drawing Tutorial?

Absolutely. This tree drawing tutorial is easy to follow, making learning how to draw a tree easy for any and all artists.

 

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