I started out drawing an old tree at a nearby country park. I tried pencil and charcoal and used my rotring pen with some water to make washes. I think this method has worked quite well to show the knobbly branches.
I also wanted to do a close up of some of the lovely branches and a gnarled trunk of another tree.
Larger study of an individual tree
My sketches above gave me an inkling that I wanted to do a detailed study of an old tree with really interesting shapes and forms. I chose this old tree. I'm not sure what kind it is because there's no leaves on it but I take reckon it's an oak or a beech. The way the smaller branches come out of the larger ones and have grown out of the trunk are quite strange and must be a characteristic of a specific tree species.
I started with a 2B and drew the shapes of the trunk and main branches. I then carried on using softer pencils to put in the shadows and main tones of the branches and then more detail. This detailed kind of drawing does not come easy to me as I get very impatient but I made myself slow down and concentrate. I love the branches and how they all relate to each other in 3 dimensions but I struggled to stay focused on it all. I'm so glad I did as I really like this drawing now.
|A3 pencil (2-4B)|
Study of several trees
For the study of several trees I knew I wanted to draw a scene from where we walk our dog. We're very lucky to live close to a path in the local woods and I love the way the path meanders through the woods and the trees lean over the path. The trees are predominantly silver birches.
I had a lot of fun doing the first sketch using my rotring pen and a brush with a water reservoir so I thought I'd try this again. There were a lot of branches in the background that gave a much darker tone that I didn't include because I wanted the trees to stand out. I think I may have overdone it with the wash though and I could have left more paper white to show the highlights.
|A3 Bockingford Paper and Rotring pen with wash|
Check and Log
1. How many different tree types have you drawn
I think I've drawn about 5 tree types. It's difficult to tell without the foliage but I think the first sketches were of a beech or oak and I know the tall narrow one is some variety of cherry blossom. I think the individual tree study is a beech or oak and the study of several trees is mainly silver birches.
2. What techniques did you use to distinguish each type?
Because the trees have no foliage I've had to look for other distinguishing characteristics. The silver birches were easy because their bark is very characteristic. It is a silvery grey with dark bracelet type marks around the circumference. I also found it had lots of lichen type and other dark marks over it. To show this I used a wash to show the main shape and shadows and then once that dried I drew in the irregular bracelet marks.
The tree in the single study was very different with lots of gnarled branches and lumps and bumps. The trunk had lots of small branches growing from it which had intertwined and created a strange pattern seemingly attached to the bark.I felt this kind of tree with all these irregularities should be drawn with lots of detail so I used a pencil which I kept as sharp as possible.
The tall cherry tree was very distinctive and I just drew the branches as they all followed the same vertical layout.
3. What did you do to convey the mass of foliage?
None of the trees I drew had any foliage which I was quite pleased about. I found that I had already tackled drawing trees with masses of foliage and I'd developed my scribbley technique to show the mass of the foliage quite well. I wanted to try showing the complicated branches and detail that required. I found drawing trees in the summer much much easier as you don't have to worry about detail and observing every small intertwining branch.
Here are some sketches of trees I previously did in full foliage.
4. How did you handle the light on the trees? Was it successful? If not, what would work better?
Working in the winter gives lovely long shadows so it's quite easy to show the light on the trunks. I tried to show the forms of the branches by drawing in the shadowed side and leaving the side in the sunlight either with white paper showing through or slightly shaded depending on the level of shade. I'm quite pleased with this technique over all, although I think the study of a several trees could do with more white paper showing through.
If the trees has been full of foliage it would have been a bit more difficult to describe the light shining on the leaves. Previously I just treated the groups of leaves as kind of irregular balls which have a shaded area and a highlighted area.
5. Did you manage to select and simplify? Look at your drawings and make notes on how you did this.
I definitely had to simplify these drawings because of the sheer number of branches. If I had tried to draw all of the branches I would still be there and would possible on the verge of madness! I concentrated on the main branches and just drew a few small ones to describe the overall shape. The most difficult one to do this with was the single study. Because of the way the main branches had grown there was a central area with no large branches but had several small ones and lots and lots of tiny tendrils. Rather than go into such great detail I just left the larger branches and omitted any of the tiny ones. I also decided to zoom in a bit on this drawing so I've just left the end of the branches out. I'm pleased with this effect, I think it works better and make a more interesting composition. I wanted to include the main bits of interest but not to make it a perfect copy of the tree (the ends of the branches are also the most difficult and finicky!).