How to Draw Needle Foliage in Pen and Ink

Update: I am pleased to announce availability of my Pen & Ink Drawing Workbooks at Amazon and other online retailers. You can get more information about them here. With fully illustrated examples and hands on exercises, they are a great way to get started drawing with pen and ink. Available for just $6 (US) , try them today.


Pine trees, or coniferous trees in general are great addition to any scenery. They are relatively easy to draw as their foliage needs a simple stroke and can be drawn in variety of shapes and sizes to suite any setting. In this tutorial, you will learn how to draw needle like foliage of evergreens and coupled with tutorial on drawing tree trunk, you will have the requisite information to practice and draw complete pine trees.

To draw a believable foliage, you need to accomplish following 2 things:

  1. Give foliage volume and depth
  2. Give foliage a feel of softness and openness

#1 above is done using darks to indicate shadows in the foliage which gives impression of depth and hence volume. For #2, never use a hard line that runs perpendicular to foliage mark to indicate shape of foliage or in edges.

There are many ways of drawing pine, or coniferous trees in general. I will present some techniques here but these are by no means exhaustive and you will develop your own techniques as you practice and learn from this tutorial and by observing other drawings.

There are two basic approaches to drawing pine trees. In the first ‘dense’ approach, above a certain height of tree trunk, needles fully cover and hide the underlying branches. This gives the perception of dense foliage. In second ‘branch’ approach, underlying branches are drawn  and then foliage ‘attached’ to it.

Basic Steps for Dense Needle Foliage:

pen and ink tutorial, drawing pine foliage in pen and ink


Following is another example using the same steps with less intensity of foliage. By varying the foliage intensity and using different foliage shape, different pine trees can be drawn.

pen and ink tutorial, drawing pine foliage in pen and ink

To add more interest, more interesting foliage shapes can be used as shown below:

pen and ink tutorial, drawing pine foliage in pen and ink

There are unlimited possibilities in using different shapes to draw different looking pine trees. If you happen to live in an area where coniferous trees grow, then try to study their shape and structure and incorporate them in your drawing using steps shown above. You can study pine tree images on the internet to get inspiration as well.

To create a feel of more layered needle foliage, following is another technique that can be used:

pen and ink tutorial, drawing pine foliage in pen and ink

Technique for Drawing Branch Foliage:

Observe the following important point for drawing a branch foliage:

pen and ink tutorial, drawing pine foliage in pen and ink

pen and ink tutorial, drawing pine foliage in pen and ink

Drawing a Pine Foliage with Branches:

Here branch structure on the main trunk is drawn first and then foliage added to the branches as shown below. Use the steps shown above to create foliage for a branch.

pen and ink tutorial, drawing pine foliage in pen and ink

By changing the angle, shape and size of branches, different looking coniferous trees can be drawn. To make it more interesting, overlapping branches can be added as shown below.

pen and ink tutorial, drawing pine foliage in pen and ink


Click here to download PDF with templates and finished drawings used in this tutorial. They can be used to practice drawing needle foliage. The size of individual drawing in PDF is around 7 by 5 inches (as in the original) when printed on legal size paper.


You can find many video demonstrations of techniques discussed above at my YouTube channel.

Following are some of my drawings where I have used coniferous trees.

This completes the tutorial. Remember to practice often and feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

Have fun!


Back to Tutorials:

I will be regularly adding new templates and tutorials. If you would like to be notified of any new addition, pl. send me your email address in the form below.

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