Drawing Trees by Celianna I love trees, trees are one of the easiest things to draw, and yet each and every one of them will be unique, no matter how many times you draw one. The best thing about trees; there are no mistakes. Sure, there are some glaring perspective errors that can be improved on, but nonetheless, trees are organic, and therefor you can draw them in any crazy shape you'd like, and it would still look okay. That means, even you, as a beginner, can draw a tree! Let us start with the basics. A tree consists out of two parts, really. The trunk, and the foliage. To draw the foliage, you must first draw a trunk. It might seem tedious, since a large part of it will be covered up, but it's essential to a natural looking tree. And of course, you kind of want to know the types of trees you can draw, so I recommend googling tree types as references. I think Ash trees are the best for beginners, and the most stereotypical tree there is. Bonsai trees are also great for learning about shapes, and perfect for RPG Maker's small resolution! References are your buddy, there can never not be enough references pictures for you. We imitate real life, so you have to look at real life first! Tip: set your background layer to a grey colour, so that you can see your tree better, because you will never place a tree on a pure white background! 1. Drawing the trunk So open up your favourite drawing program, and draw a shape resembling a tree. You can keep in mind what kind of tree you'd like to draw, tall, short, pine tree, oak tree, etc. I'll be drawing a spruce tree, as well as a generic oak. First up is the spruce. Spruces are not varied with their trunks, it's usually just a straight line, with branches coming off from the main trunk. So that's what I'll draw, a straight brown shape (I'm using a pixel brush here because it's for Ancient Dungeons, my tileset, whose style has a hard pixel edge on the outside, but painted on the inside. You can choose whatever you want though). Don't forget about drawing the roots, they should 'fan' out at the bottom. Think of it like drawing the teeth of a jack-o-lantern! Because you're not going to see the branches of the spruce, I'm skipping that part for later, and will shade the trunk. Start with a darker colour first, and shade to the right, because the light source comes from the top left in RPG Maker. Use a small brush of size 3-5, and set the opacity to about 30%, and simply draw a shadow on the right edge. Brush over this area a few more times to darken it, and a few random places as well to create variety. To best draw tree bark, just draw in lines, following the trunk. In this case, the trunk is straight, so draw straight lines. Time for some highlights! Pick a lighter colour than your base colour, and draw in small 1 pixel sized brush lines. Leave the opacity at 30%, and keep brushing over areas to get some highlights in there. Draw to the left, as that's where the light is coming from. No need to worry; you cannot make mistakes here! If you accidentally draw over a shadow, that's fine as well! Time to finalize this trunk, add some tinier details, like make it darker or brighter. Use a small brush, and draw in a way that makes it look like a tree bark. Simply having dark/light lines in there will do fine to make it look like a trunk. Because I haven't added any branches, I still need to know where the foliage will go, so I will create a new, temporary, layer, and draw some lines where the foliage will go. I will use this as a guideline, not very strict though. It's to get the general shape of it in mind. This is completely optional. 2. Drawing the foliage So now we have to draw the final steps, the foliage of the tree. This is the step that takes the longest, but is also the most fun. Since I am drawing a spruce tree, I want the branches to have an upwards curve. The branches will curve up, but also have foliage hanging down from them, giving them a droopy appearance. First, draw the shape of the foliage on a new layer. Like I said, I want the branches to curve upwards, and have a droopy appearance. It doesn't matter if it's not perfect, that's the beauty of trees, there are no mistakes! You don't have to fill everything in, you can leave gaps, and even erase some parts if you'd like. Make the branches small and thin at the top, and widen them at the bottom. Time to shade these leaves! Grab a darker colour, a brush size of about 3, opacity low again at like 30%, and shade towards the right of the tree. Since these are branches, the bottom part of the leaves should be darker, and the top should be brighter. Don't know what or how to shade? Just draw spotty areas on the leaves, this will give it some texture. Next are the highlights. With a brush size 1, draw on the left side small streaks of a lighter colour, especially near the top. Keep them along the rims of the branches. Due to the perspective, to make it seem like there's branches at the front, all we do is draw a small crescent shape in a highlight colour in the middle. Then it seems like there's a branch there. Duplicate this layer, flip it horizontally, and then move the branches a bit, or remove a few, darken it a bit, and place it behind the trunk like so (the other layer of leaves is invisible in this example): Then (this is optional), due to my spruce tree being set in a snowy area, I want to reflect some blue to the leaves. So in a very soft brush, on a new layer, I drew some blue highlights on the very far right of the leaves, and set the layer to colour dodge. It's subtle, but noticeable. The tree is pretty much done now, all that's left is to add a shadow. A quick way to make shadows for the trees, is to duplicate the foliage layers, merge them together, turn the brightness down to zero so that it is a pure black. Then you flatten this layer a bit, skew it to the right, and place it beneath the trunk layer. Then I set the layer to 43% opacity. That's my personal preference though, RPG Maker has a 50% opacity. 3. Video progress of a tree Here's a video I recorded myself drawing a tree from scratch. I use Adobe Photoshop CS3, with only one custom brush, a cloud brush made by Noise Less, found here: http://noise-less.deviantart.com/art/Cloud-Smudge-Brushes-83975723 which is great for adding in leaves. What if you can't use this brush? The brush made it easier to 'scatter' paint, so small splotches of a darker colour would get scattered around. You can do this manually instead, take a small size 3 brush, set the opacity to 20%, take a darker colour, and draw in splotches of shadows (keep in mind the light source). Do the same thing for highlights. I mostly use the pencil brush here, because it's a certain style from Ancient Dungeons that I want to match, keeping the lines crisp. The video is divided into 3 steps; drawing the trunk, drawing the foliage, and adding finishing touches. Tip: you don't need to have a drawing tablet to draw! I always use a mouse. Not the most ergonomic way of saving your poor wrist from RSI, but you don't need to spend a lot of cash to get good.