Exercise 45: Sketching an individual tree

simple outline of tree's overall shape

simple outline of tree’s overall shape

The object of this exercise was to reduce the tree to its simplest parts, both in outlines and in shading. A useful way to set about drawing trees for the first time. The directions were somewhat repetitive, asking for three different outline drawings, but repeating an exercise rarely hurts. The first (above) was an outline of the tree’s overall shape. I began by drawing only the outer edge of the branches, but then decided to sketch in the basic branch forms.

basic shapes in outline

basic shapes in outline

The second sketch (above) is much the same (basic shapes in outline), although I spent longer looking at the branches. I smudged some charcoal on the page before I started to draw, dragging it in the directions of the main branches, and then worked simple outlines over the top in pencil. Having this very basic blocked in shape proved useful, allowing me to focus more on the lines of the branches.

outlines of the trunk and main branches

outlines of the trunk and main branches

The third sketch asked for the outlines of the trunk and the main branches (see above). For this, I used a Rotring ArtPen, but ran out of ink near the end! However, I feel it caught the basic shapes reasonably well. Not sure what type of tree it was – some kind of chestnut is my guess.

rough shading

rough shading

The fourth sketch asked for scribbled outlines or shading to indicate the texture of the foliage. As there was no foliage, I scribbled a silhouette. Not a great deal of variation in shade, but the light was very flat and the sky was grey.

quick pencil sketch of tree on Dartmoor

quick pencil sketch of tree on Dartmoor

Above is a sketch I did following the previous exercises. Again, I’m not sure what type of tree it was, but it was one of the few with some foliage left, and I wanted to indicate something of the context in which it sat (on the brow of a hill, with evergreens in a valley beyond). I think it shows that drawing trees is not something with which I’m familiar! However, not bad for a first attempt.

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