In this page, I will show 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 on the body of the mountain. In another set of techniques, focus is on creating more interesting cuts and crevices on the body to draw a mountain. We start by learning how to draw mountain with different plains and then move on to creating more interesting cuts and crevices on the body.
Drawing Mountain: Defining Plains
In this approach, draw an outline of mountains with distinct change in angle. These are called transition points. From here draw lines to create plains as shown below.
Drawing Mountain: Texturing
Once plains are drawn, they need to be brought out and given form to give overall form to the mountain. There are 2 aspects to it as following
- Stroke used to texture
- Shading using the stroke to give form/depth
Simplest stroke to use for texturing mountain is dots and ticks. In addition, use different density of the stroke to highlight different plains as shown below.
Above is a simple but very effective technique for shading where plain lines and small surrounding areas are slightly darkened to give form to the plains. In more involved approach, direction of light (Sun) is assumed and plains/surfaces facing the light source are shaded lightly compared to surfaces away from the light source. This is explained in detail in my workbook. Following is another useful approach where Sun/light source is assumed to be overhead resulting in vertical plains being darker than horizontally oriented plains.
By using different outlines, mountains with very different feel can be drawn using this technique. Parallel lines is another way to texture mountains in this technique as shown below. This is discussed in detail in my workbook.
Drawing Mountain: Surface Imperfection Approach
Another approach to drawing mountains is to focus on its surface imperfections. The surface of a mountain has many cuts representing imperfections and in this technique for drawing mountain focus is on drawing such cuts to convey feel of 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.
Drawing a Mountain with Surface Cuts:
In this approach, surface cuts using the above technique are indicated on the body of the mountain. By drawing such cuts in different sizes and orientation, a feeling of mountain is conveyed as shown below.
Drawing Mountain with Cuts: Finishing
In the last step, add tapered dark to edges and add small cuts along the edges and in the body to take away excess white and give impression of roughness on the surface.
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.
This is a very simple but effective technique and by using different size and shape for cuts, 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. Different techniques for adding background tone is discussed in my workbook.
Drawing a Mountain 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.
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.
Drawing Mountain with Vertical Plains:
Above the cuts 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.
Adding a background tone gives a nicer feel to the mountain as it takes away heavy contrast.
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.
Drawing Mountain with horizontal Paths:
Above, we saw how using parallel lines in a vertical manner defines a vertical cut. 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.
Background tone can be added if desired to subdue white as shown below.
Different sizes and orientations of path can be used to create different effect as shown below.
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 ‘cut’ 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.
Watch video demonstration of this technique on my YouTube Channel.
Here are 2 more examples of this technique.
Same technique can be used with more zagged edges to create a different feel as shown below.
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.
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.
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.
Drawing Mountain with Blocks:
Technique discussed above to create layers of blocks can be used to draw mountain as shown below.
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.
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.
This technique can also be used with a mountain outline discussed earlier techniques. 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.
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.
This is again the power of ‘suggestion’. By giving a hint of ‘top’, our mind interprets it as a block .
In the following example, first technique discussed above is combined with blocks to create mountain with yet another feel.
Drawing Snow Covered Mountains:
Leaving white on the surface gives a feel of snow covered mountain as shown below. Drawing snow covered mountains is discussed further in my workbooks.
Different techniques discussed above can be combined in many different ways to draw mountains with unique feel to them. Following are some additional examples.
Same techniques 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.
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.
Drawing Mountain: Templates
Click here to download PDF with template that you can use to practice drawing a mountain.
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