How to Draw Mountains

There are many ways of drawing mountains and I will describe few techniques here. Each technique gives a different feel for the mountain and is appropriate for drawing different type of landscapes. Pen and Ink is used as the drawing medium in tutorial below, but same concepts can be used with other mediums as well.

There are essentially two main types of techniques for drawing mountains. In one set of techniques, a simple, typical outline is used with focus on creating plains and cuts on the body of the mountain. In another technique, focus is on creating more interesting layers and edges to draw a mountain. We start by learning how to draw mountain with rough surface and then move on to creating more interesting edges and layers.

Drawing a Mountain with Rough Surface:

In this simple technique, the focus is on creating a feeling of rough surface by drawing different plains on the mountain’s surface. First the mountain body is filled with small plains at different orientation and size and then some are darkened to bring out the texture. The shapes below can be drawn by scribbling as well if you are not comfortable with drawing parallel lines.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

This is a very versatile technique and by varying the size and orientation of these plains, mountains with different feel can be drawn. Following are 2 additional examples. Click on it to see details.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

In the above technique the focus was on covering the body of mountain with small plains which gave a very rough feel to it with over all dark tone.  In the next technique, focus is to drawing few big plains or cuts on the surface with a different resulting feel to the mountain.

Drawing a Cut/Plain in Perspective:

A main aspect of a mountain (and stone for that matter) is its surface imperfections. The surface of a mountain has many cuts or plains and it is important to learn how to show such cuts to properly convey impression of a mountain. Following is the shape of a surface cut in perspective. Most important thing to understand is that it starts and ends in a point.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

Drawing a Mountain with Surface Plains:

In this approach, surface plains or cuts using the above technique are indicated on the body of the mountain. By drawing such plains in different sizes and orientation, a feeling of mountain is conveyed as shown below.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

Finishing  Mountain:

In the last step, add tapered dark to edges and add small plains along the edges and in the body to take away excess white and give impression of roughness on the surface.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

Watch video demonstration of this technique on my YouTube Channel.

Adding Background Tone:

White on the surface in the above technique gives a bright impression and is sometimes distracting. To take it away and create a mountain with overall dark tone, you can use parallel lines to add a background tone as well as shown below. This also gives a feel of heaviness to the mountain. A bit of white can be left to create a highlight as well as shown below. Background tone also helps to bring out the form of the mountain.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

This is a very simple but effective technique and by using different size and shape for plains, different feel for the mountain can be obtained. Following are some additional examples of this technique. Notice how adding a background tone gives a heavier feel to the mountain.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

Drawing a Mountains Range:

So far we essentially drew a single mountain but same technique can be used to draw mountains that are behind and create a mountain range. Drawing a Mountain Range is usually more visually interesting. Following are 2 examples.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

Shading Successive Layers:

The base of mountain behind should be darkened more as shown below as the top receives more Sun light. This also brings out the form of the mountain and helps to visually differentiate between front and back mountain. Use additional parallel lines to add more tone.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

Drawing a mountain with vertical Plains:

Above the cuts or plains on the surface of mountains were mostly at an angle and this implies a ‘slice’ on the surface to create imperfection. When the lines are vertical, it indicates a plain that is vertical and essentially indicates a deep vertical cut on the surface of the mountain. This creates a different feel for the mountain and can be used as well.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

Adding a background tone gives a nicer feel to the mountain as it takes away heavy contrast.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

This is a versatile technique and by using different size and shape for vertical plains, mountains with different feel can be drawn. Following is another example.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

Drawing Mountain with horizontal Paths:

Above, we saw how using parallel lines in a vertical manner defines a vertical cut plain. Similarly, drawing parallel lines horizontally gives an impression of a path, especially if the edge of the lines is not indicated with a solid line. This can be used to create a mountain with a feel of paths on its surface leading to the summit as shown below.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

Background tone can be added if desired to subdue white as shown below.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

Different sizes and orientations of path can be used to create different effect as shown below.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

By using different orientation of parallel lines, mountains with different feel can be drawn as discussed above. The core approach is same in that a ‘plain’ or a ‘path’ is drawn on the body of the mountain using tapered parallel lines but our mind interprets them differently depending on the angle of the parallel lines.

Drawing Mountain with Overlapping Layers:

Above we learned how to draw a mountain with imperfections on its surface. Another approach is to draw a mountain with overlapping layers as shown below. Here the technique for shading successive layers as described above is used to bring out the form of overlapping layers and give an impression of mountain.

pen and ink tutorial -draw mountains technique 2

Watch video demonstration of this technique on my YouTube Channel.

Here are 2 more examples of this technique.

pen and ink tutorial drawing mountain

Same technique can be used with more zagged edges to create a different feel as shown below.

pen and ink tutorial -draw mountains technique 2-2

In next 2 techniques, we look at drawing layers of blocks and interesting edges to create a mountain effect.

Drawing a Block:

Learning to draw a simple block is fundamental to this technique. First the top outline of block is drawn and then side indicated by using parallel lines. Indication of side is what gives it depth. Click on it to see details.

pen and ink drawing mountain

Following is how to draw layers of blocks. Key is to always draw the block in front first and start the top of block behind from the edge of block in front.

pen and ink drawing mountain

When the line indicating top is closed, this results in a ‘closed block. By leaving the top open, ‘slant’ can be given to the top of the block which helps to merge it with its surrounding as shown below. Open block that merges with other plains in a mountain is more interesting.

pen and ink, drawing mountain

Drawing a Mountain with Blocks:

Technique discussed above to create layers of blocks can be used to draw mountain as shown below.

pen and ink drawing mountain

In the last step above, parallel lines are used to indicate the surface of the “blocks”. In addition, parallel lines can be use in the body to indicate some kind of plane as well as shown below. Edges of blocks can be made bit zagged as well.

drawing mountain

This is a very versatile technique and by changing the shape, size, orientation of blocks, many different effect for the mountain can be obtained. Following are some additional examples.

pen and ink, drawing mountain

This technique can also be used without layered block edges in a ‘typical’ mountain outline as well. In this case, add blocks to the body of the outline to give it mountain feel. In this case, it is important to use parallel lines to define plains along the outline of the mountain.

pen and ink, drawing mountain

Earlier we used vertical parallel lines to indicate cut on the surface of the mountain. Notice how just extending the top point to create a rounder form converts a ‘vertical cut’ into a block.

pen and ink, drawing mountain

This is again the power of ‘suggestion’. By giving a hint of ‘top’, our mind interprets it as a block .

Drawing Mountain with Vertical Edge Plains:

In this last technique, we will look at how to draw a mountain with a series of vertical and horizontal plains along its edges. In this case, the outline of mountain should be draw as a kind of ‘Staircase’ as shown below. The vertical line defines the vertical plain and horizontal line defines horizontal plain.

pen and ink, drawing mountain

Following shows steps to create a mountain using this technique.

pen and ink, drawing mountain

Watch video demonstration of this technique on my YouTube Channel.

This technique can also be used with blocks in the body as shown below.

pen and ink, drawing mountain

Leaving white on the surface gives a feel of snow covered mountain as shown below. Also, vertical plains using vertical parallel lines are used below as well.

pen and ink, drawing mountain

This is again a very versatile technique and combining it with other techniques discussed before mountains with many different feel to them can be drawn. Following are some additional examples.

pen and ink, drawing mountain

Same technique can be used for drawing mountain at a distance. In this case, make them smaller and use less planes to indicate less details. Following are 2 examples of distant mountains.

mountains at distance

This completes drawing Mountain tutorial. I discussed many different techniques as each technique creates a mountain with different feel. Have fun drawing and remember to practice often.

Templates:

Click here to download PDF with template that you can use to practice drawing a mountain.

Rahul

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