Drawing and painting tree branches.

Last Update :
December 10, 2016

Artist Contact Information
Lloyd Thibodeau
1901 Country Apple Court
Fountain Inn, SC 29644

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Overview of Artist Practice Lesson on Drawing Branches

Artist drawing practice lesson of landscape tree.

Stick figures where what I was at times use to drawing when first starting out sketching tree branches. I needed to remember at times when drawing or painting trees that some of the older larger ones in the forest have in a way some beautiful artistic wrinkles. These are aged in that they twist and turn at almost every angle up toward the sky. Over the years the characteristics of an wiser ones is displayed on every inch of bark surface of each bending branch. To distinguish our drawing of an older tree from the younger ones there are a number of art techniques that can be keep in mind as we sketch.

Light and shadows

On the outer bark helps to convey the personality for every inch of wood surface. Without the sunlight depth would be lost and a plan 2D image would result. Realism disappears and the life of the tree that we're attempting to captured is voided out when there's no shadows. Each wrinkle or crack in the bark is a mini canyon filled with dark shadow color helping us to see it's character. Older trees have generally weathered some pretty good storms compared to younger ones. There's many like Redwoods that have seen a number of historical events over time. Keeping these things in mind helps us to paint a more realistic artwork.

Drawing bark textures by shadows from sunlight.

On the art reference close up photograph notice the shadow under the branch extending out and how this shadow stretches down the bark of the tree trunk. The same dark colored shadow rest under a knot where a branch use to be and also on the back side of the trunk. It doesn't stop here because all those crevice lines of the bark have the same shadows in them. Don't be worried about thinking of how in the world is one suppose to paint this in an art creation? Different artists use different drawing and painting techniques and I will explain one of them for this art lesson.

Before oil painting use pencils to sketch out your composition.

Doing so will provide a road map and helps you to become more familiar with the features of your subject.

A really good artist instruction book on this is J.D. Hillberry's "Drawing Realistic Textures in Pencil". He's written ten interesting pages with art principles to learn from on drawing realistic objects such as weathered wood. This is good art instruction reference material with artist techniques to practice along with drawing trees.

Artist Branch Grid Drawing Pattern

Pencils have different grades written on the sides of them. The reason for mentioning this the Branch Grid Drawing Pattern contains an art exercise page for you to try shading with a number of different graded pencils. Drawing pencils vary from really hard grades that let you leave very light lines to very soft grades that let you leave rich dark lines when used. It's good art practice to get a feel of which pencils produce the desired effect you want to achieve in your artworks. An artist needs to be knowledgeable and comfortable with the right artist tools.

Another reason for mentioning pencil grades is seeing how you can use what you learn in shading can be used in the oil painting art lesson on Sunrays in a Forest. Notice the distant branches of the trees further in the background are much lighter and almost blend in with the light. Where as the closer branches on trees in the foreground are darker and more visible.

For practice there are boxes to shade in on the second page in this grid drawing pattern. Starting with the hardest graphite drawing pencil you have, shade in the first box. Use a different grade softer for shading in each of the other boxes. As you sketch take note of how each graphite pencil reacts to the surface of your drawing paper.

Sunlight shining throught trees in a thick forest.

Painting Sunlight and Forest Glow

There are two artist techniques for painting a glowing background in a forest. I like painting with both of these methods. And both methods can be varied according your desired painting results you want to acheive.

First artist method is brushing in a bright area in the beginning of your artwork while the outer areas are painted in with darker hues. Some fore thought is necessary in that you need plan where your sunlight is coming from in your composition. By creating a thumb sketch of your artwork you are helped to keep your work on course.

A second artist method along with the first is brushed on when most of the background trees have been painted in.

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