How to Draw Trees: Conifers

This step-by-step demonstration will walk you through an approach to drawing a coniferous tree (Douglass Fir). The goal is not to copy this one tree but to lean techniques to deal with common drawing problems you will encounter while sketching pines, firs, and other coniferous trees. Try following these steps and examples and then go outside and draw coniferous trees in your neighborhood. Draw ten different trees to see how these techniques apply to the diversity of tree shapes you see. The best way to learn how to draw trees is to start drawing lots of trees.

In this drawing, I demonstrate how to draw front to back. I start with the clumps of needles that are closest to the observer, then move back to get the trunk and major branches, then the masses of needles and branches behind. This is a very good way to get a sense of depth in your drawing.

Pay particular attention to how I handle the branches that stick out toward you. The slight upturn of the branch tips makes an upturned “claw”. Each of the fingers in the claw is a clump of branches that catches light on the outer rim and drops to a deeper shadow toward the interior. Studying these shapes and how to represent them will dramatically improve your ability to draw evergreen trees.

Click on the first drawing to start a step-by-step slide show.

4 thoughts on “How to Draw Trees: Conifers

  1. douglas beckstein says:

    John you did a great job teaching today at Oakland Museum
    Your ability to plan a 90 min class and deliver it to a group of varied ages and talent is extraordinary

    Thank you so much!

    Douglas Beckstein
    PS you can use the anchored verb in future classes

  2. Guy Vinson says:

    Enjoyed your class today at the Oakland Museum today and look forward to others. I am trying to get back into drawing after a very long break, your lecture was a big inspiration and motivator.

    Thank you

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