How To Draw Trees

Proportion, Scale and Alignment

Trees are ubiquitous in the landscape in every season. Getting them to look right requires attention to three specifics that make the size and shape look just right.  

PROPORTION is essentially the ratio or comparison of the height to width of the tree. In this lesson, we’ll use a measurement based on the height of the trunk from the base to the point where the lowest branches are attached. This measurement can be used to determine the height and width in terms of ‘trunk heights’.

SCALE is less precise but involves observing the widths of the trunk and branches. The difference in scale of trunk and branch width for young trees is very different than in older trees. This factor is often missed in drawings and paintings and the result is mature trees that look as if they are young trees. 

ALIGNMENT is used to help determine lean and direction of the trunk and main branches, as well as placement of branches along the trunk. 

All three are covered in this lesson. 

Transferring the Drawing Layout

The downloadable layouts are done with heavy lines to make it easy to see and copy onto your watercolor paper. It is best not to draw the lines too heavy on your paper, especially in the sky, since there is a good chance the lines will show through the paint. It’s not a deal-breaker, but those heavy pencil lines are sometimes a distraction.

Materials Needed

    • Pencil and paper. 

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