Drawing Outline of Bare Trees

Outline of branch structure of a tree has to be drawn in a believable manner as a first step to draw a convincing tree. In the tutorial on drawing and texturing branches, we discussed some of the key considerations to keep in mind when drawing branch outline. They can be summarised as following:

  1. Use a wandering line to create outline of a branch. Don’t use a straight flat solid line.
  2. Always taper the branch appropriately. Don’t taper it too quickly.
  3. Clearly identify the relative order of branches by using ‘discontinuity’ at the point of intersection.
  4. Add interest with overlapping branches in different directions.

Beginners often struggle with providing a good perception of depth through intersecting and overlapping branches in their drawing. To achieve that, following approach often works in which branches are drawn on alternate sides in alternating manner.

Step 1: Draw a bifurcating Initial Tree outline

Trees come in limitless variety of shapes and sizes, but one form that is always visually pleasing is a bifurcating form where the trunk divides into two main branches. Draw this initially.

Step 2: Draw a Left Secondary Branch

Add a secondary branch from one of the bifurcating branches.

Step 3: Draw a Right Secondary Branch

Add a secondary branch on the other side overlapping the branch drawn in earlier step.

Step 4: Draw another Left Secondary Branch

Now draw another branch on left overlapping the previous 2 secondary branches.

By drawing secondary branches in this alternating manner, nice overlap and feel of depth can be achieved. Always leave a discontinuity when branches are overlapping with behind branch broken at the point of intersection. This gives a nice perception of relative order of branches.

By using different structure for bifurcating branches, different tree outlines can be drawn using this technique. Following is another example.

Following are some more examples. Study tree shapes when fully visible in winter and practice drawing them often.

Branches Lying on the ground:

Few broken branches lying on the ground is a simple fun composition that can be easily done from imagination anytime. Following are some examples of this.

This completes this tutorial. Carry a pocket sketch book and practice often.

Happy Drawing,


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