How to Draw Trees in Winter

Just in time for spring, a lesson on how to draw trees in winter!

Without leaves, deciduous trees reveal their distinct architecture. Each species has a characteristic form  primarily described by crown shape and branch angles. No step-by-step can replace the value of real observation but armed with a few tricks, you will be better able to draw what you see. Adapt these ideas to the real tree shapes before you.

My Top Tips

  • Start with deep observation. Describe the shape of the tree before you out loud. What makes it different from the other trees around it? Attend to the size and locations of the major branch units or clumps of the tree.
  • Begin drawing from the top down, connecting smaller branches to larger ones. Observe the angles at which the smaller branches connect to each other and to the major trunk. Make sure to enlarge the trunk as you descend.
  • Look for the major branch units of the tree and show this structure by drawing a light arch above each unit and drawing down from there. This gives you the shape of the crown, a critical detail to represent individual species.
  • How do you draw all those fine little branches? I don’t! Instead try using an area of light tone in the areas of the densest small twigs. This can be created with light watercolor or a paper smudging tool on graphite.

Click in the first image in the series to begin a step-by-step tutorial.