how to draw a tree

How to Draw Trees [FREE TUTORIAL]

Drawing trees is easy when you know what you’re looking for. In this article, we’ll show you how to draw trees from scratch.

how to draw trees 2

Without the right strategy, drawing trees can be difficult. However, learning how to draw trees using our proven system will give you an advantage over other artists! In this lesson, you’ll learn how to draw a beautiful tree, the Hike And Draw way.

What you’ll learn:

  • Learn how to draw trees 
  • How to draw leaves on a tree
  • How to draw tree roots

What you need:

  • Pencil – 2B softness works best
  • Blank paper – Doesn’t need to be fancy


How to Draw Trees

Drawing trees is an immersive and rewarding experience, but sometimes it’s the little things that prevent our drawings from looking as good as we know they can be. I remember getting frustrated after spending hours and hours on a particular tree drawing that just didn’t turn out the way I planned. Sound familiar? 

Ultimately, I devised a practical system that makes drawing trees more approachable, while yielding better results. This step-by-step tutorial will teach you how to draw a tree using a blueprint constructed of dots.

Why dots? Because ANYONE can draw a dot! Dots are the simplest form of mark-making. The point of using dots to create a blueprint is so that we can build our drawing deliberately, step-by-step, so that our finished drawing is supported by a solid foundation. 

Start by Drawing a Tree Blueprint

A little early planning will help you draw a tree with the correct proportions. Begin by establishing the height and width of your tree using four dots. Think of these as measurement markers.

how to draw a tree - step 1

Consider the shape or profile of the tree as a whole. Working from top to bottom, plot the profile of your tree by using more dots. This will help create a solid foundation for our next step.

how to draw a tree - step 2

Draw Foliage BEFORE Branches

It’s tempting to start adding foliage after drawing the most dominant visual element first, like the trunk and branches. Despite this, you’ll actually want to start drawing foliage first. 

Just like before, begin from the very top of the tree first and work your way down. Be sure to leave a lot of blank space around where the trunk and branches will be, since you’ll be drawing those last. Consider also how the branches are arranged on the trunk and how some are visible while others are not. 

A natural branch arrangement will add more realism to your drawing. It’s a good idea to study the morphology of different tree species in order to get a better understanding of how to draw trees. I recommend checking out The Denro Lab by Carrey Russell.

how to draw a tree - step 3

Draw the Tree Trunk and Branches

Now that all of your foliage is accounted for, it’s time to add the trunk and branches. Be sure to let some branches show through the foliage. Also, note that most trees have roots above the ground for stability against strong winds (think of them like guy-lines on a tent).

Rather than having your trunk disappear into the ground, show some roots just like in real life. Once you finish this lesson, be sure to check out my other tutorial on how to draw tree roots.

how to draw a tree - step 4

Add Shadow to Your Tree Drawing

Start by considering the light source. Where are the darkest shadows and lightest highlights on your tree? Avoid making your shadows too dark. Create shadows gradually by gently shading in the darker areas without pressing too hard on the paper.

Building up shadows gradually helps create more control for you, the artist. If you want to erase a shadow that is already too dark, you’re going to need some additional drawing tools that will help. It’s better to use lighter pencil strokes earlier and avoid having to clean up a mess later. 

how to draw a tree - step 5

How to Draw Trees Video Tutorial

It’s time to draw along with this video tutorial. By the time you’re finished you will have learned how to draw trees!

Play Video

Now you know how to draw a tree using the Hike And Draw method! If you found this helpful, consider sharing this article with a friend, or even better – show them what you’ve learned by teaching them yourself 🙂

Enjoy the Tutorial? Try my FREE Nature Drawing Lesson!

Hike And Draw Free Workshop

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