Drawing 1 : Part III : Drawing Trees

Exercise : Sketching an individual Tree : OCA p 98

I decided to try sketching several trees so that I would get a feel for their different shapes and characteristics and that would enable me to decide what type of tree to draw for the exercise.

Here are some of my initial sketches:

Practicing mark-making

Fig 1 : #93/3 Practicing mark-making


Fig 2 : #109/4.  A large tree in the park









Fig 4 : 100/3.  This tree looked very dead but its skeleton was so gnarled and lovely, I thought it worth drawing




Fig 3 : 110/4 Another large tree with its structure on display as the leaves are barely showing


Fig 5 : #99/3. This little cherry tree was just breaking into leaf and was reflected in a pond

Fig 5: more trees by the water

Fig 6: more trees in the park










I used charcoal pencil, graphite, ink and soft charcoal for the various images above then I did my 4 preliminary sketches, ready for my final drawing:

Larger study of a Tree : OCA p 99

Fig 6 : sketch 115/L/A4

Fig 7 : sketch 115/L/A4

Fig 7 : My 4-part sketch shows firstly the outline of the tree, secondly which branches I could see through the leaf cloud, thirdly the tonal areas and finally the bark on a branch and trunk.  These all helped me in the final drawing by familiarising me with the tree before I started.

Fig 7 : 116/L/A4

Fig 8 : 116/L/A4


Fig  : A weeping birch in a graveyard in Denmark is the tree I chose for this sketch.  I’ve used pencil (4B and 6B) and I have tried to be faithful to the light and shade within the branches.  The sun was high and just behind the tree.  I added the bushes where they contrasted (and I enjoyed the mark-making for them) but faded the picture out where the box hedges around the gravestones were, not to detract from the main focus of attention.

Study of Several Trees : OCA p 100

The image below (Fig 9) was completed in chalk pastels on coloured sugar paper.  I chose that medium because I felt it would best show off the autumn leaves.   I’m pleased with the outcome though I realise in hindsight I have used pastels a couple of times before and perhaps a different medium would have shown a variety of skills.

Fig 9:  Study of several trees

Fig 9: #127/L/A3 : Study of several trees

The trees looked dramatic against the pale sky and I have highlighted this.  They almost seem alive and about to pounce.  On the whole I was pleased with this study.

Check and Log

  • I’ve drawn more than eleven tree types
  • I used various marks, thicknesses of pen / pencil / charcoal to distinguish each type, concentrating on the ‘feel’ of the tree
  • foliage masses have been created with various marks, shapes and density
  • I handled light in the trees by creating heavier masses in the darker areas to leave white paper showing through for light
  • I have certainly selected each tree from a landscape of other trees and kept them simple by not over-detailing.  Mostly I’m happy with my efforts but perhaps I have over-simplified by not creating a landscape behind the tree.




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