Project – Drawing trees

Exercise – Sketching an individual tree

I chose a tree by the river for this exercise, which was to do four sketches of the same tree:

Tree study

Sketch 1:


In pencil, a simple outline drawing with vegetation shaded in

Sketch 2:


In coloured pencil, including some tonal shading this time

Sketch 3:


In pen with tonal shading (drawn as a continuous line), but no vegetation drawn in

Sketch 4:


Pen as with sketch 3, with vegetation in coloured pencil – a bit too luminous in colour and being able to see through the coloured pencil to the pen below looks a bit weird.

Sketch 5:


I did an additional larger sketch of the same tree in charcoal

Exercise – Larger study of an individual tree

I picked the tree on my patio to draw as I could do this comfortably through the patio windows:

Individual tree photo

I chose Letraset Tria pens to complete this sketch as I wanted to try them out.

Individual  Tree

The pens give a uniform colour no matter how much you go over the same spot with them, so I had to add tone through hatching on the trunk. There wasn’t really any way I could add this in the foliage areas though, but I don’t think the image suffers too much from this.

Exercise – Study of several trees

I found a suitable spot not too far from home which I thought might work well:

Group of trees

I decided to tackle this using charcoal:

Group of trees charcoal

I then thought I’d try adding some colour:

Group of trees charcoal and chalk

The chalk made an almighty mess! That and I seemed unable to get any control over them at all. So, covered in green chalk, I decided to try again.

Group of trees 2 charcoal

This time I thought I’d try coloured pencil to introduce colour:

Group of trees 2 charcoal and coloured pencil

This did work better to get colour in, but looking back on these images, they are very childlike images – mainly because they are uniform in tone. The trunks were pretty uniform in tone, but I think maybe I needed to use a smoother paper to get a dense black for the trunks and then rub out the few highlights? However would be the best method, I haven’t achieved it in these drawings!

Check and Log

How many different tree types have you drawn?

  • Three. The most interesting ones I find to draw are those which are dead or partially dead as the bare branches give the interest and they are not just a mass of green.

What techniques did you use to distinguish each type?

  • I’m not sure I’ve developed a technique for different types of tree, I approached each drawing with a plan to use different media or just to see what worked.

What did you do to convey the mass of foliage?

  • As detailed above, I mostly avoided this by drawing bare trees, and the drawings I did of several trees were not very successful.

How did you handle light on the trees? Was it successful?

  • Not very well. Some of the hatching I used on the study of the individual tree worked well, but apart from that I haven’t been successful in capturing this.

Did you manage to select and simplify? Look at your drawings and make notes on how you did this, and what could you do better?

  • Not really. The tree image which I think has worked best for me was the study of the individual tree in which I drew pretty much everything which was there, only simplifying in the mass of foliage. The only images which were simplified were the studies of several trees and I simplified them to the point of a child drawing! I’m quite disappointed with what I produced for the tree drawings as I was quite keen to get some good results with these. I definitely need to work on my simplification of images and on my tonal work.
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