Drawing Trees
How To Draw Trees In Your Building Sketches

I mentioned earlier that in this loose style of drawing trees are basically just squiggles. For simplicity sake we are going to be concerned with three basic types of trees: shade trees (ones with leaves), pine trees (ones with long sharp needles), and palm trees (ones you find in tropical areas).

This example shows shade trees.

 The larger trees are pines.

Example of palm trees

The drawing exercise for leafy trees, as in #1, is soft circular squiggles. For pines (#2) draw short jagged strokes, and palm trees (#3) are drawn with wider wispy strokes. Practice doodling to warm up.

Here are photos showing actual trees we are going to draw.

This is a large shade tree. Print out a copy of this picture or use one of your photos of a leafy tree common to your area.

Here is one example of a pine tree.

This is the most common type of palm called a coconut palm.

Set your photos up for tracing or use the photos for reference and try out your freehand sketching skills.

Before starting to draw, remember you don't want to create an exact representation of these trees. As you draw more and more you will find different ways of sketching subjects that will be unique and develop your own style.

The picture to the right shows a shade tree in three different stages. Just as you did in the earlier lessons begin your sketch with loose outlines (#1). The first stage will produce a pretty good depiction of that tree. You could stop there, but as you add more squiggles here and there (#2), it starts to look more interesting. Add some shadow where the tree limbs seem to meet darker layers of leaves (#3). You can stop at anytime, and remember less is more. Great tree!

Do the same with the pine tree. Your sharp strokes indicating the needles can be larger than on the real tree. In fact, you want to exaggerate them a little.

Now try the palm tree. Fill in detail with longer strokes, but don't try to draw every palm leaf.

There is no right or wrong way to draw trees. You can practically get away with anything. Just remember when you feel you have gone far enough on a drawing, trust your instinct and stop.

If you saved your drawing from the More Drawing from a Photograph lesson, go back and add some more detail to the trees. You will be amazed at the results. A little goes a long way.

I threw in a foreground branch in the upper right that wasn't in the photo. This is a trick to fill in void areas and also frame the image--bringing focus to the building. When drawing you are the boss and can create the image anyway you want.

Practice drawing different types of trees. You will find that there are trees and other vegetation specific to your area. If you want to learn their names and see plants from other areas there are a lot of good books out there to use as a reference.  

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