A Course in Drawing Simple Landscapes in Pen and Ink: Part 1

Purpose of the Course:

The main goal behind this course is to help people adopt drawing simple landscapes with pen and ink as a creative and relaxing hobby. With a simple pen and paper, you can spend you free time creatively and connect with your creative side. In my completely free video demonstrations and online tutorials, I show how absolute beginners can use simple pen strokes and compositions to create pleasing landscapes in under 15 minutes. In this course I have prepared a guided way to consume the content I have created for learning to draw landscapes in pen and ink. I invite you to begin your creative journey today.

Who is it intended for:

This course is meant for anybody who is interested in learning to draw with pen and ink. No experience what so ever is required. All aspects of drawing simple landscapes in pen and ink are fully covered. All you need is a desire and interest in learning and practising what is covered in the course.

What is covered?

The main focus is on drawing simple landscapes involving trees, bush, trunks, stones, mountains, water etc. that are around 4 by 5 inches and can be quickly done in under 20 minutes with practice using ordinary pens. Click here to view some examples of such landscapes. The course is broken into different parts with each part focusing on certain elements.

A main aspect of this course is that it is focused on drawing complete landscapes. In other words, we look at not only how individual elements like a tree or stone can be drawn, but also at how different compositions can be done by using these elements together. This is very important as it gives the reader an understanding of simple compositions and they can use this knowledge to create their own landscapes which keeps the learning more fun and interesting. Without this, beginners are often at loss for ideas as they try to move from individual elements to full landscapes. Compositions presented and demonstrated in this course can be used and changed in many different ways to create a new landscape every time.

How is it delivered?

Following are 3 main components of the course:

Online Tutorials: These fully illustrated tutorials describe drawing different elements of nature in detail.

Video Demonstrations: The video demonstrations on my YouTube channel provide step by step demonstration of techniques discussed in on line tutorials. Every step is fully explained and a landscape is created right in front of your eyes.

Illustrated Examples and Practice Templates: Additional illustrated examples of techniques and activities discussed are provided to help solidify  your understanding. Practice templates are also provided that can be used to practice drawing strokes and techniques discussed in the lessons.

For a lesson focusing on a specific element, an online tutorial is initially provided that can be used to study the strokes and techniques in detail. This is followed by video demonstrations that show use of those stroke and techniques in detail in the context of a composition. After going through online tutorials and video demonstrations, practice templates must be used to practice the strokes and techniques discussed.

It is important to PRACTICE drawing the landscapes presented here. Download the templates I provide and practice drawing them before moving to the next lesson.  Everybody has their own unique pen style and your drawing will look different than mine. But you will improve with practice and develop your own style which will be a reflection of your creative process.

This course is one way to explore extensive content I have created to learn drawing simple landscapes in pen and ink but feel free to create your own journey.

You can get overview of different activities covered in this part in this video on my YouTube channel.

Feedback Welcome:

I would love to hear your thoughts on this course and any comments or suggestions for improvement are most welcome. In addition, feel free to reach out to me with any questions as you start on this wonderful creative journey.

Don’t be Hesitant:

It is very important to not get intimidated in the beginning by thought of putting a ‘wrong’ pen line that can’t be erased. Many people think that because a pen line can’t be erased, it is difficult to learn to draw with pen and ink. This is incorrect and in fact, because a pen line can’t be erased, it takes away the ‘draw-erase-draw’ cycle that beginners often get stuck in when using an erasable medium like pencil. After you put down a line, keep drawing even if it is not to your liking. Soon you will notice that any ‘wrong’ line becomes part of overall end result and adds its own feel. It is very important to be not hesitant about using pen when drawing with it. At the same time, don’t try to rush the process. Find your own rhythm and enjoy the process.

Overview of Pens:

We start by looking at different options for pen and paper to use for drawing in pen and ink. Getting a good pen to start with is important as it will avoid your frustration with poor quality lines. There are lot of choices available in the market and I discuss some of them in the following video:

Overview Pen Choices (Video, 20 minutes)

For a beginner, I would summarise it as following:

Quality gel pens in medium and fine nib (.5mm and less line width) along with a small sketch book that you can easily carry along are great way to get started drawing in pen and ink. Uni-ball Signo UM-151 (.38mm) is my favourite gel pen, but other gel pens from Pilot, Sakura, Pentel etc can also be used. A quality felt tip pen, like Pigma Micron from Sakura, can also be used. They often sell for under $3. If you want to try fountain pen, I recommend Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen (under $20 in NA).

A small sketch book (like 3.5 inch by 5 inch) with a gel pen can be easily carried along anywhere and can be used to quickly practice simple pen strokes whenever you get few minutes of time. A great thing with pen and ink is that it can be done anywhere and make use of this advantage to practice drawing as and when you get a chance.

A Small Sketch book with a quality Gel pen is all you need to get started

A Small Sketch book with a quality Gel pen is all you need to get started and practice anywhere

Overview of Pen Strokes:

Following tutorial and video discusses some of the basic pen strokes that are used to draw landscapes in pen and ink. Use of these strokes is illustrated and discussed in detail in individual demonstrations later, but practice these strokes extensively whenever you have time to make effective use of them in your drawings.

Overview of Pen Strokes

Overview of Pen Strokes (Video 20 minutes)

Lesson 1: Landscapes with Tree Trunks:

We start by learning how to draw and texture tree trunks and create simple landscapes with trunks as the main element. In the first activity, we look at some of the simple compositions that can be done with trunks and learn to draw landscapes based on these compositions in outline. In subsequent activities, we learn to texture different elements and move from landscapes in outlines to textured landscapes. Make sure to practice at the end of each activity.

Activity 1: Understanding Composition Themes with Tree Trunks and Drawing in Outline

As mentioned earlier, main focus of this course is on teaching simple compositions that can be done with different elements and so we begin by learning some of the simple compositions that can be done with tree trunks. These compositions are simple, pleasing and can be easily adapted to create different landscapes with different feel.

In the following tutorial and video demonstration, 3 types of compositions with trunks are discussed. After you understand the concept behind these compositions, you will be able to make effective use of them to create pleasing landscapes based on them in subsequent activities.

Compositions with Trunks (online Tutorial)

Compositions with Trunks (Video, 9 mins)

The first step in any drawing is to make an appealing outline of the landscape attempted. In the following tutorial , key considerations and examples around creating outline of different landscapes based on compositions discussed above are presented. As you can observe, by changing the placement and density of trunks, landscapes with different feel can be drawn.

Drawing Outline of Landscapes with Trunks:

Activity 1 Summary:

You should now have a good understanding of simple compositions based on tree trunks and how to draw outline of landscapes based on them. These can be used as a basis of your efforts in next activities and can be changed in different ways to create new landscapes.

Activity 1 Practice:

Try drawing the outline of compositions discussed in this activity based on instructions and examples in the link above.

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Activity 2 : Creating Your First Landscape with Receding Trunks (Composition 1):

In this activity, we will move from creating a composition in outline that we learned in last activity to creating a textured landscape by learning to texture different elements in it. As you learned in Activity 1 above, a simple landscape with trunks essentially has following 3 main parts:

  1. Receding Trunks
  2. A distant Foliage or tree line
  3. Ground cover

First, we start by looking at how to texture trunks in the following online tutorial:

Drawing Tree Trunks in Pen and Ink (online Tutorial)

In the following video, techniques for drawing trunks illustrated in the link above are covered along with demonstration of drawing a simple distant tree line and doing ground cover. Watch this demonstration now to get a good understanding of how to draw such a landscape.

Video Demonstration: Landscape with Trunks Receding to Distance

pen and ink landscape with trunks

You can study additional illustrated examples of landscapes based on this composition here to enhance your comprehension of techniques discussed.

Activity 2 Summary:

In this activity, we learned how to texture trunks and draw a simple distant tree line and ground cover. These simple elements can be used to create simple trunks based landscapes. You will do this practice next.

Activity 2 Practice:

Create your first landscape by texturing the landscape outline you drew in activity 1 based on video demonstration above. Alternately, you can download the templates to practice here. Don’t be intimidated and dejected if the initial results are not to your liking. Practice more and you will improve with time. You can find additional video demonstrations that cover this composition theme here (listed under Theme 1). Watch these videos to further learn how different landscapes based on this composition can be created.

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Activity 3: Learning to Draw Wooded Area with Trunks (Composition 2)

Another composition theme we learned in activity 1 is to create a wooded area using higher density of trunks. In this landscape, texturing trunks is the main focus of activity. Watch the demonstration below to see how this is drawn step by step.

Video Demonstration: Wooded Area with Trunks

pen and ink landscapes- composition 2

Study additional illustrated examples of this composition here to gain further understanding of techniques used.

Activity 3 Summary:

In this activity, we learned how to draw a wooded area using trunks as primary element. This is a really fun composition that can be adapted in many different ways to create pleasing landscapes. We will practice doing this landscape next.

Activity 3 Practice:

In this practice, draw a wooded area with trunks using outline you drew in activity 1. This should give you a good practice of drawing trunks and ground cover. Trunks are usually part of many compositions and being able to draw them convincingly is very useful. Practice doing this landscape extensively till you are comfortable drawing and texturing trunks.  Click here to download template with outline drawings of this composition to practice but better yet, draw one of your own.   .

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Activity 4: Landscape with Wooden Posts and Trunks

Texturing of a wooden post is very similar to that of a trunk and in this step we will learn to texture wooden posts and draw a simple landscape with a wooden posts and trunks close by. Click on the link below to learn how to texture wooden posts.

Drawing wooden posts (online Tutorial)

In the following demonstration, a simple landscape with wooden posts and trunks is created. Watch the demonstration to learn how it is done step by step.

Video Demonstration: Wooden Posts with Trunks

pen and ink landscapes with wooden posts

Here are some more examples of such landscapes that you can use for inspiration.

Activity 4 Summary:

We learned how to texture wooden posts and create simple landscapes with posts and trunks. We will next practice doing such a simple landscape.

Activity 4 Practice:

Draw a simple landscape with wooden posts and tree trunks based on demonstration above. Create your own outline or use this template to practice drawing such a landscape.

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Lesson 2: Landscapes with Bush, branches and twigs

In this lesson, we will expand beyond tree trunks to see how simple landscapes can be drawn with tall twigs, bare branches, bush etc.

Activity 5: Drawing Young bare Trees, Bush and Tall Twigs

Young bare trees are very fun and easy to draw and same technique can be used to draw tall twigs as well. Following tutorial illustrates how to draw branches at different distance from viewers which can be used to create very effective simple winter landscapes.

Drawing Branches, Young Trees and Twigs (online Tutorial)

Techniques illustrated in the tutorial above is used to create a simple landscape with young trees, bush and tall twigs in two demonstration below. Watch them to see how it is done step by step.

Video Demonstration: Young Trees with Background Bush

pen-and-ink-landscapes-with-young-trees-and-bush

Video Demonstration: Young Tree with Tall Twig in the Background

pen-and-ink-landscapes-with-young-tree-and-tall-twigs

First step when drawing a bare tree is to draw the outline of its branches in a convincing manner. If the following link, some considerations and additional examples of bare trees are presented that can be studied to get further inspiration.

Drawing Outline of Bare Trees

Here are some additional illustrated examples to study and learn.

Activity 5 Summary:

After watching above demonstrations, you should have a very good understanding of how ‘zagged darkness’ can be used to give a feel of rounded form to thin branches and tall twigs. You should also have a good understanding of how to draw a bush using ‘loop’ stroke. Key considerations around drawing outline of bare trees were also discussed along with several examples of outline of bare trees.

Activity 5 Practice:

In this practice, draw a landscape based on demonstrations above. First practice drawing outline of bare trees as discussed in the link above. Next texture the outlines using techniques discussed in this activity. Click here to download the template of bare trees outlines to practice. Practice extensively till you are able to draw them convincingly.

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Activity 6: Branches Lying on the Ground

Texturing branches is very similar to texturing trunks. Following is a demonstration of a pleasing landscape with broken branches lying on the ground. Watch the demonstration to learn how it is done step by step.

Video Demonstration: Broken branches lying on ground

pen-and-ink-landscapes-broken-branches

Here are some additional illustrated examples to study and learn.

Activity 6 Summary:

In this step we learned how to draw broken branches lying on the ground. This is a very fun composition and endless variations on this are possible that can be used to quickly draw a different one from your imagination.

Activity 6 Practice:

Practice drawing the above demonstration. Click here to download outlines of broken branches on the ground that you can use to practice or draw one of your own.

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Lesson 3: Landscapes with Tree Foliage

In lesson 1 and 2, we learned how pleasing landscapes can be drawn without tree foliage using just tree trunks, branches and twigs. In this lesson, you will learn how to draw tree foliage to add more interest to your landscapes. We start by learning about different compositions that can be effectively drawn with trees:

Activity 7: Composition Themes with Trees:

Following online tutorial and video demonstration discusses 4 type of simple but very effective compositions that can be done with trees. I have chosen these compositions as I feel that they are very flexible and adaptable in creating different pleasing landscapes based on them from your imagination.

Compositions Themes with Trees (Online Tutorial):

Composition Themes with Trees (Video Demonstration, 16 min)

In the following link, we look at how the outlines of landscapes based on above compositions can be done. Drawing an outline is first step in creating any landscape and a good knowledge and practice of drawing such outlines is very important.

Drawing outlines of Landscapes with Trees

Activity 7 Summary:

You should have a good understanding of some of the compositions that can be done with trees. These are practised in subsequent activities.

Activity 7 Practice:

Practice drawing the outline of compositions discussed above.

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Activity 8 : Landscape with Tree Foliage using Scribble Stroke

In the following online tutorial, different techniques for drawing tree foliage are discussed. This tutorial provides a solid understanding of how foliage effect can be obtained with different strokes and should be studied closely.

Drawing Tree foliage in Pen and Ink (online Tutorial)

Watch the demonstration below to understand how to draw tree foliage using scribble stroke and create a landscape with scattered trees going to the horizon.

Video Demonstration: Tree Foliage using Scribble Stroke

Pen and Ink Tutorials: Drawing Trees

Here are some additional illustrated examples to study and learn.

Activity 8 Summary:

Scribble stroke is a very simple and effective way to create tree foliage and landscapes based on it as shown in demonstration above.

Activity 8 Practice:

Draw a landscape as shown in demonstration above and use scribble stroke to create tree foliage. Here are some other outlines that you can use to practice scribble stroke. Practice doing simple trees with foliage using scribble stroke extensively.

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Activity 9: Tree foliage using Parallel Lines

In this activity, we look at how to use parallel lines to draw tree foliage and create a landscape around it in the following demonstration. Technique to create more interesting ground is also discussed.

Video Demonstration: Parallel Lines for Drawing Tree Foliage

Pen and Ink tutorials : Trees

Additional Illustrated examples that show use of this technique can be studied here.

Activity 9 Summary:

Compared to scribble stroke, use of parallel lines to create tree foliage is more challenging as it requires comfort with drawing parallel lines and creating different tones using different layers of lines. But after you have gained skill in doing it, it can be used very effectively in many different type of compositions to render tree foliage very effectively and quickly, some of which we will see in activities below. In the above demonstration, a technique for creating more interesting ground was also covered.

Activity 9 Practice:

Draw a landscape as shown in demonstration above and use parallel line stroke to create tree foliage. Here are some other outlines that you can use to practice drawing tree foliage with parallel lines.

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Activity 10: Wooded Area with Receding Trees

In this activity, we look at how to create a wooded area with receding trees. In this composition, high density of trees is used to give a wooded feel compared to composition above. Parallel lines is used to render tree foliage but you can try using scribble stroke as well. Following demonstration shows how to do this landscape step by step.

Video Demonstration: Wooded Area with Receding Trees

Pen and Ink Tutorials drawing trees

Here are some more examples to study and learn.

Activity 10 Summary:

This composition is very fun to do and can be easily changed to create landscapes with different feel. Practice doing parallel lines and creating tree foliage with it as part of doing such landscapes and you will improve in no time. Scribble stroke can be used to draw these landscapes as well.

Activity 10 Practice:

Practice drawing a landscape as shown in demonstration above. Here are some other outlines that you can use or better yet, try drawing one of your own if you haven’t done so.

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Activity 11: Wooded Area at a distance

In this step, we will learn how to create a feel of wooded area at a distance. In the above composition, trees recede from the viewer with the foreground trees quite close to the viewer, but in this composition, trees are drawn at a distance and because of this, they are drawn small and the landscape can be done relatively quickly. Watch the demonstration below to see how it is done.

Video Demonstration: Wooded Area at a distance

Pen and Ink Tutorials: Drawing Trees

More examples of this composition can be found here.

Activity 11 Summary:

This is a very fun, simple composition that can be quickly done. Drawing this composition will give you further practice with using parallel lines to create foliage. As you can observe, by changing the size of trees (making them closer or farther from the  viewer), their density and placement etc, different landscapes can be easily drawn from your imagination.

Activity 11 Practice:

Practice drawing a landscape as discussed in the demonstration above. Try different sizes and placement of trees.

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Activity 12: Drawing Tree foliage using Loop Stroke

So far we have looked at using scribble and parallel lines to create tree foliage. In this activity, we will look at yet another way to create foliage using ‘loop’ stroke. It is important to learn and practice different techniques for drawing tree foliage as using them together add more interest to the drawing.

Scribble and Parallel lines can be used to draw foliage in a tree where branches are not showing through. If you want to portray a tree with thin foliage where secondary branches are visible, then loop stroke is very effective as shown in demonstration below. The stroke is also used to create a bush as we saw in earlier lessons.

Video Demonstration: Airy Foliage with ‘leaf’ Stroke

Pen and Ink Tutorial: Drawing Trees

Additional examples to study and learn.

Activity 12 Summary:

There are many different ways to create tree foliage and ‘loop’ stroke can be used very effectively to create an open, airy foliage.

Activity 12 Practice:

Practice drawing simple trees using loop stroke as shown in demonstration above. This is very relaxing and fun to do. Carry a small sketch book and a quality gel pen with you and practice drawing these small trees when ever you are able to steal some time.

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Activity 13: Drawing Pine Trees

In this activity, we will learn to draw pine trees using needle stroke to create pine foliage. The first demonstration below shows how to create a pleasing landscape with pine trees receding to the horizon.

Video Demonstration: Drawing Pine Trees

pen-and-ink-landscapes-pine-trees-1

Pine trees at a distance can be used to draw pleasing landscapes very quickly. This compositions was earlier demonstrated for deciduous foliage. In the following demonstration, pine trees are used.

Video Demonstration: Pine Trees at a distance:

pen-and-ink-landscapes-pine-trees-2

Activity 13 Summary:

Pine trees are very simple and fun to draw. Simple landscape using them can be draw very quickly and effectively.

Activity 13 Practice:

Practice drawing landscape with pine trees as shown in demonstrations above.

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Activity 14: Drawing Tree Foliage up close

As an element gets closer to the viewer, we need to show more details as more details are visible. We saw this earlier when drawing tree trunks. Similar considerations hold true when drawing tree foliage as well. In the earlier activities, foliage was mostly drawn at a distance. In this activity, we will learn how to show more details and depth when drawing a foliage that is closer. This is mostly achieved by laying down outline of individual foliage masses initially and then texturing them individually to bring out more depth and detail. This is shown in following video.

pen-and-ink-landscapes-tree-foliage-details

Activity 14 Summary:

Tree foliage detail is very fun to draw using simple scribble strokes and always create a very pleasing landscape. A tree with detail foliage can be combined with simple other elements like wooden posts or few small stones to create pleasing landscapes very quickly.

Activity 14 Practice:

Practice drawing trees with foliage details and landscapes based on them as shown in demonstrations above.

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This completes part 1 of the course. Practice the activities in this part often and feel free to reach out to me for any questions or suggestions on improving the content of the course.

Have fun,

Rahul