Anybody can draw. I realize that is not the common view but I stick by it. If you want to learn how to draw, you can. You just have to practice and have some confidence in yourself. Here are seven “lessons” that will help you get there. I’ve been drawing since I was a kid and had art lessons in high school. I’ve also read a few books on drawing. I’m taking ideas from all my experiences and reading to help you learn how to start drawing. I recommend doing no more than one lesson a day. It takes some time to learn to draw. Just like anything else, you have to practice on a regular basis to get there.
Look out of your window and find a tree that looks interesting to you. I’ll admit, I love drawing trees. You can get so much good drawing practice from this. The picture of the tree that you see below is one across the street in my neighbor’s yard. I thought it was a cool tree and started drawing it.
I draw trees from the bottom up. Start at the ground and draw the outline of the trunk. Once you get all of the trunk and major branches, then you can start on the top half. A trick that helps me with the top half of a tree is to find the pattern of the smaller branches. Most trees have a general direction that the branches are going. Think about that. What are the differences between a pine tree and a willow? Can you imagine the general pattern? Once I see the pattern I quickly start using the point of my pencil to make those kind of directional scratches. Don’t go for deep, bold lines. Light scratches are perfect for this. I will tell you to draw what you see but when you are drawing the top half of a tree, go with the feel of it. Not every single little branch or leaf has to be right.
The second step is to shade the darker areas and then shade the lighter areas. Look for places where a big branch juts out. Almost always that will be a darker spot for shading. Then look for curves in the trunk. Those will require shading to look realistic. Typically, I shade both sides of the trunk darker and leave the middle lighter. That gives the impression that the trunk is round.
The last step is to the draw the bark. I never draw individual pieces of bark unless it’s an extreme close up of a tree. I find the general pattern and start making light scratches. Look for places in the bark that are darker lines and use the point of the pencil to make that line more bold. Then fill in blank spaces with light lines that match the pattern of the bark. Some bark is straight and some is curvy. Fill in most of the empty space on the trunk and branches with the appropriate lines.
Editor’s Note: We are now accepting submissions by anyone that has attempted these lessons. Go here to see how to submit your drawings.