Expanse. Part 3. Project 1. Trees. Exercise 1 Sketching individual trees. Exercise 2 Larger observational study of an individual tree

Find a tree that interests you in a park, garden or anywhere you feel comfortable sitting or standing. Look out from ground a ground floor window if that suits you better. You’ll need to be some distance from a big tree.

Do around four preliminary drawings- divide your paper up into four landscape/portrait boxes. Use a soft 2B-6B pencil, charcoal or pen/ink.

  • Draw a simple outline of the tree’s overall shape
  • Draw basic shapes in outline, or shaded areas that describe how the forms in different masses around the trees
  • Draw the outlines of the trunk and the main branches of the tree that you can see
  • Draw with lots of scribbled outlines or shade roughly to try and indicate something of the texture of the foliage


For this exercise I decided to work from my garden.

Here are my quick sketches of trees in my garden and our next door neighbour’s garden. They are mainly in outline with some extra lines to explain texture and shapes.

Four quick tree sketches
Four quick tree sketches
Outline of a tree in pen
Outline tree in pencil
Apple tree sketch

We have three apple trees and next door has two large Scott’s Pine trees. I drew quickly using a soft pencil to capture the outline of the tree and some of it’s branches.

In our local wood, called The Wick Wood, I found these trees and made individual sketches of them. As the wood was very dark I tried to express this with deep lines and shading. The bushes I just scribbled to get the leaf effect.

The Wick trees
The Wick trees

Whilst away one weekend, I quickly drew these Silver Birch trees that were growing close to a fence. I used a fine black pen to draw the details.

Silver Birch trees
Silver Birch trees

Also from working in my garden I made drawings in ink, Chinese brush painting style of my large apple tree.

Apple Tree in ink
Apple Tree in ink

Exercise 2 Larger observational study of an individual tree

Spend more time really looking at a tree in detail. Spend at least an hour on this drawing. Chose which media will suit the individual characteristics of your tree. For example, you might decide to use A3 cartridge paper and a fine drawing medium such as a drawing pen, pencil or ballpoint.

Draw quickly, so that you keep a free and flowing hand to follow the fluid line……….. Notice the light source and see where the deepest shadows are and the strongest light…………..Hint at texture by fluid use of shading or lines.

Detail of tree trunk both sides


Materials; Fine black pen and paper

On one of my walks I found this odd looking tree. I think It’s been trimmed in it’s life time, so was a strange shape at the base, with a large canopy. I made a detailed sketches of the trunk of both sides. The light was even as it was a cloudy day, but there were some deeper shadows in the texture of the trunk. The fine pen was the right tool to draw with. as it flowed smoothly on the paper. I had to draw quickly as it was quite chilly standing outside.





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