Not Another Watercolour Painting Tutorial

Not Another Watercolour Painting Tutorial

Do We Need Another Watercolour Tutorial?

Need help with watercolour? In this short page, I hope to reveal how I use the process of sketching to develop an eye for a subject and a process for capturing what seems a limitless scene. Constant sketching and varying an approach just to see what something looks like will help all artists who are trying to capture landscapes in watercolour.

Do we need another watercolour tutorial? The easy answer is no! But of course there is always room for an experienced artist ( with a modest outlook) to pass on some of that experience to fellow artists who may just be starting out on a journey of discovery.

I intend to create a series of lenses about sketching subjects ( such as trees, skies, sunsets, sunrise and the use of colours) whilst these are taking shape this lens should be considered a work in progress – thanks.

The accompanying sketch shows a still life painted at a meeting of my art group. This and all other images below are sketched and photographed/scanned by myself.

Why Sketch?

shouldn’t you just go for a finished picture?

Even the great artists sketch…. and the more they do this the better they are likely to be. Turner left many sketches to the nation after his death. Even his skimpiest works show how he was approaching issues like skies and landscapes. The constant sketching will more than repay the investment in time for any artist.

A painting simply called watercolour beginning shows a simple Turner sketch which probably would have been completed in the fullness of time. There are many of these in books and galleries but I have not yet located a web link. ( In fact, a brochure from an exhibition of Turner’s works held at the Tate does have a few things to say about the watercolour beginnings). One other example of a sketch by Turner is shown in this Tate Gallery Blog post which also discusses the faded appearance of the watercolour sketch.

I often simply use up the remains of my palette to create sketches from my imagination – a little like doodling really but it does help to keep my pictorial vocabulary in use and growing. These sketches I call my “Turnerisms”, they show this simplistic doodling approach to landscape subjects. Not something I would frame and hang on the wall but “hey” they were done for fun and practice, and what is life without a little fun now and then. Just for reference they are all from a sketchbook which is about six inches wide, ( the longest dimesion in these sketches).

They were actually done on cartridge paper and so the effect of wet-into-wet washes is not very relevant but having fun and making marks is never a waste of time. In this series of lenses I hope to be showing you many more of my sketches, some in this vein, some looking more like finished works but all have the main objective of teaching me something.

As for the second question above, it is always worth sketching out one or two small thumbnail sketches to decide on compositional features prior to starting any major project/painting. Professionals do it, what makes any amateur think that they don’t need to? read about any major artist and the chances are that he will know what he is going to paint and how he is going to achieve any particular result before he starts. Why take a chance? Of course there are many instances of paintings being changed part way through but by and large even the masters will have made sketches of potential problem areas before the main work is started.

Some examples of what I am saying would be an obvious update to this lens, at the earliest opportunity. watch this space!

So You Want To Start A Webcomic..

So You Want To Start A Webcomic..


You read them, you love them, and now you want to make them. But where do you start?

Hey all! I’m Kit, co-creator of the webcomic Strawberry Syrup. Since starting my webcomic in July of 2007, I’ve learned a lot of things about the process, and I’m here to share them with you – from the way my partner and I create our comic to some great sites that will help you on your way.

So, have a look around, and good luck with your webcomic!

Getting Started

The Basics
BrainstormingAlright, so you’ve decided to give webcomicking a try. Now what?

Well, there are a few basic things you need to get started.

An Idea. What’s your webcomic going to be about? Who’s the main character (or characters)? What does he or she want, and who or what stands in their way? Where or when does it take place? Whether you’re doing a slice of life comic or a full-fledged epic fantasy, now’s the time to grab your sketchbook and start brainstorming. Keep asking yourself questions until you feel like you’ve got a good handle on your story, and read the section on Prep Work: How Much Should I Do?

A Sketchbook. It could be an actual sketchbook, a folder full of loose-leaf paper and Post-It Notes, or a digital folder on your computer, so long as you have somewhere to experiment with styles, practice your characters, and keep your ideas together. When you have a story idea, jot it down. Explore it a little. And, of course, practice, practice, practice!

A Format. Will your webcomic be like newspaper comic strips, with each strip being a few square panels all in a row? Western comic books? Or maybe manga’s more your thing? Check out webcomics similar to yours and see how they handle things like panel format and page size. Choosing and committing to a format beforehand will help give your comic a cohesive, professional look.

The Right Materials. How will you be drawing your comic? With pencil and ink on a sheet of paper, or in a program like MangaStudio or Photoshop? Which way you choose determines what materials you’ll need. For all webcomics, you’ll need a scanner and some basic image editing software at the very least. Read more about it in Getting Technical: How Do You DO It?

This is kind of an important part of webcomicking. Where will you host your comic? If you’ve got the money and some programming skills (or know someone who does), you can host it on your own website. Otherwise, there are a whole slew of sites made to host webcomics or can be used to host them. Look around and see which option would work best for you, and be sure to read all terms of service and small print. Read more in Where to Host Your Webcomic.

So, those are the bare basics for what you need to start a webcomic. Now, let’s get into a little more detail…

Getting Technical: How Do You DO It?

Traditional Versus Digital
So, you’ve fleshed out your idea, done your prep work, and are all set to go. There’s just one little problem: exactly how are you doing to draw it?

It’s a pretty basic question, but an important one. Fortunately, you have options! Depending on how you work best and what technology you have access to, the most common ways are:

The Traditional Way. Take a sheet of paper, grab a pencil, and go to town! If you don’t have a graphics tablet, this is probably the way you want to go – nothing invites a headache like trying to draw with a mouse. Things you’ll need: paper, pencil, eraser, pen, ruler, compass, possibly markers, a scanner, and basic photo editing software. Draw your page, scan it in, make the necessary changes in whatever software you use to resize things, and you’ve got your page all set to go.

The Digital Way. If you’ve got a tablet or are just that good with a mouse, you can make the whole process digital. It can really take some of the blood, sweat and tears out of webcomicking. Use whichever graphics program you’re comfortable with, whether that’s Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, Manga Studio, SAI, or just good old MS Paint.

Half-and-Half. This may be the most common way. Draw your line art by hand, scan it in, then add your tones or color digitally with your graphics program.

Creating quality webcomics mean finding what works best for you and still works within your budget. If the only scanner you have access to is Aunt Selma’s ancient museum piece from the mid-nineties, you might want to consider going all-digital. Likewise, if you’ve got a fantastic scanner, but your only graphics program is MS Paint, you might want to stick to doing it by hand.

Manga Studio

Software to Help You Out
If you’re looking for the best software out there dedicated to comic creation, it’s Manga Studio EX. Plan, sketch, ink, and tone your work, all in one place. You can work on individual page files, or group them together in stories (an option I use to keep my chapters of Strawberry Syrup together). With a variety of pens and a whole library of screen tones, you’ll definitely find what you need to make your comic look professional here.

Artists familiar with Photoshop shouldn’t have any problem navigating Manga Studio or its layer system, but if you’re new to it all, playing around for an hour or so will get you familiar with it pretty quick (of course, you could also read the manual). You also need to figure out what page size works best for you and play around with the guidelines. Manga Studio is set up for creating comics for print, but if you don’t want to deal with safe zones and bleeds and all that technical stuff that doesn’t really apply to webcomics, you can just turn the guide layer off.

I love Manga Studio’s pencil tool. It really simulates a physical pencil for me, and makes sketching easy and smooth. The pen tool provides a nice, smooth, solid black line. The tones take some getting used to, but they do make your comic look professional. Manga Studio also makes it easy to add text and word bubble to your comic.

If you’re looking for a program to color with, I would not suggest Manga Studio, but for digital sketching and inking, I don’t think you can beat it. I use it to organize, sketch, and ink all my comic pages, then export them into Photoshop to shade and resize them. I’ve also taken to sketching many of my stand-alone drawings in Manga Studio before transferring them over to Photoshop for coloring. Working together, they’re ideal for me.

If you’re looking for the single best program for doing a black and white comic, then definitely check out Manga Studio EX. Or, try Manga Studio Debut for a cheaper option. Fewer features, but you can always upgrade later.

Tools of the Trade

What You’ll Need To Make Your Webcomic
Whether you’re a traditional pen and paper, scan-it-in webcomicker or a member of the digital art world, there are a few things you’ll need.

Helpful Stuff from the Web

Here’s some sites offering either advice or products that will help you on your way.

Blambot Comic Fonts
The home of great fonts on the web. So long as you aren’t planning on pitching your comic to TokyoPop or another big publisher, you can download and use most of these fonts for free.

The Psychedelic Tree House
This place has a lot of links to blogs full of helpful information to help you with your webcomic. Plus, the largest collection of webcomic logos that I’ve ever seen!

The free way to track traffic to your webcomic.

Prep Work: How Much Should You Do?

Before you launch your comic…
A Little Planning Now, Far Fewer Headaches Later!It’s a common question: before you launch your new comic, how much work should you do?

Answer: If you want a good, high-quality comic that updates regularly, a lot. However, some types of webcomics involve more forethought and prep work than others.

If you’re planning on a non-sequential strip, where each strip can stand alone and still be enjoyed, you’ll have a lot less work to do. Typically, this form takes less planning than others. If your strip has recurring characters, spend some time designing them and refining their look before your first strip goes up. Also keep track of strip ideas, either in a Word doc or notebook. That way, you’ll never have to struggle for what to draw when the inevitable brain block kicks in.

But what if you’re doing something with story arcs, where the tale unfolds page by page, week after week? If that’s the case, there’s a few things you should do before your comic ever sees the light of the internet:

Outline your story. Write out all your major plot points. You don’t need to hit every single twist and turn – some will likely surprise you – but work out the general idea of where you want to go and Big Twists or Events that need to happen.

Think of it as mapping out a road trip. You know where you want to end up each night, but you may make unexpected detours and run into great surprises (or a few hang-ups) along the way.

Flesh out your world. For fantasy stories, that means world maps and a lot of set work. Figure out what the main places look like. Does your story take place in a mystic forest, a quaint village, an epic city, or all three? Draw those places and work out the gist of how they should look. Is your setting based on an ancient culture? Medieval Europe? Asia? Victorian England? Is it a magical world? Steampunk? Pull out the research books, determine your technology level or your magic systems, and define your world’s cultures in – at the very least – some broad strokes.

The more time your characters are going to spend in an area, the more time you need to spend developing it. It will add a feeling of depth and dimension to your webcomic.

Develop your main characters. Your characters are your connection to the readers. Readers will forgive a lot in terms of webcomics, but if you don’t have characters they can get invested in, they’ll stop reading.

So, don’t just refine their visual design or say, “Okay, he’s a mage. He uses magic. Ta-da!” Give him a backstory. Figure out where he’s from, who his family is, his likes and dislikes, and so on. How did he learn magic? A royal academy? The village shaman? Self-taught? How does his family feel about his magic? Do they support him? Did they disown him? How does HE feel about his magic? Blessing? Curse? Maybe he always wanted to be a florist instead.

Thinking about these things will help you create fresh, original characters that won’t feel like cookie-cutter products to your readers and will help you tell a better overall story.

Thumbnail. Thumbnails range from small, quick doodles to detailed drawings, but they all do they same thing: they help you visualize how each page should look and work out any layout kinks before you draw the actual page.

If you have the attention span, you could thumbnail your entire comic before ever starting the first page, but I suggest at least doing your first chapter or two, and try to keep at least a chapter ahead of where you are in the comic. Doing so will help you spot any immediate kinks in your plot and let you work out plot holes before you trap yourself in a corner.

Modern world storytellers, don’t think you get our of all the work! All of these steps apply to you, too. Draw out the main locations you’ll be using in your comic: their school, their houses, their workplace, their favorite hang-out. You also need to put just as much thought into your characters and do your plotting and thumbnailing, too.

A little forethought and planning goes a long way towards giving your comic a high-quality feel and insuring your readers are enjoying the best possible story you can give them… not to mention, saves you on plot-based headaches later!

Keep a Sketchbook

And Keep It Handy!
One of the best things you can do as an aspiring webcomicker is to get yourself a good sketchbook. While there’s nothing wrong with digital sketch files, there’s something to be said for putting pencil to paper and letting your creativity run wild – and it’s definitely a plus when you’re brainstorming and working out story details! Plus, it’s a lot harder to just delete a sketchbook page, and you never want to do that – an idea that doesn’t work out now may come in handy later or spur on a new, completely awesome idea when you least expect it.

A few things to look for in a good sketchbook:

Binding. How is it bound? Spiral-bound books lay flat, but it’s a lot easier to tear pages out – whether you wanted to or not. Stitch-bound books don’t always lay flat and take up more room, but they tend to be more durable. I’ve used both kinds, and about all I can say is that it really depends on which one suits you better, personally.

Size. Sketchbooks come in all sorts of sizes, from ones that can easily fit in a back pocket or purse to ones larger than you typical printer paper. The pocket-sized ones are great if you tend to get a lot of ideas on the go, but for most of my brainstorming, I prefer the medium-to-standard-sized ones. They give you enough room to really explore ideas and draw everything from characters to cityscapes, plus all the notes you’ll want to jot down. Plus, if you’ve got a scanner, you’ll want a page size that will actually scan in one pass.

Paper. Do you like working in pencil? Pen? Marker? Watercolors? If it’s one of the latter, you’ll want to make sure the paper is thick enough to handle your medium of choice without bleeding through to other pages. Make sure the paper is acid-free; that means it’s meant to last and preserve your work without turning yellow or crumbling after a few years. Other than that, you’ll want paper of the right texture and thickness that best suits you. Most good sketchbooks have the paper weight marked on them. I personally prefer a paper weight of around 70 lbs., with a little bit of texture. Not so much that your average micron pen can’t draw a straight line, but still some texture. Other people prefer the extremely smooth feel of Moleskine sketchbooks.

Finding the best fit for you may take a little trial and error, but once you get used to working out your ideas visually, you’ll be glad you found one that works for you. To get you started, here are a few suggestions.


Have a Buffer!

That means finishing pages before the first one ever goes up. I suggest having either your first chapter or at least 20 pages (or strips) done before launching your comic.

Why Do You Need a Buffer?

Build Your BufferI know, I know – you’re eager to introduce your webcomic to the world as soon as the first page is done, but trust me on this one. Sometimes, real life will just whack you upside the head. Family emergencies, technical failure, or author burnout may demand you take some time off. By having a buffer, you’ll be able to take the time to deal with life as it comes up and still not miss an update.

Readers are, as a whole, fairly forgiving with webcomic artists. That said, if you keep missing your updates, you’re going to lose readers. With a buffer, you can go weeks without drawing a page and still keep updating.

If you do need to miss an update or two, be honest and upfront with your readers. If you’re sick, tell them. If it’s a family emergency or technical issues, let them know that, too. You don’t have to go into detail, but your readers are invested in your comic – and they’re invested in you. If you disappear for a few weeks without a word, they start to worry about you.

Be nice to your readers. You don’t have to share every detail of your life with them (because, hello, creepy +TMI is not a good combination), but keep them in the loop.

Should you have to go on hiatus (an extended period without updates), here are a few tips on how to handle it in our All About Hiatuses post.

Other Helpful Guides

Never Hurts to Have a Sign Post…
The best way to get the hang of doing webcomics is to read a lot of webcomics and regular comics or manga… and to draw a lot. But it never hurts to have a reference, and that’s what these books are – great references. Check them out and see if they’re something that might help you!

Note: Most of these are in manga-style – mainly because that’s the style I use and the style I like. But there are many different styles of manga, and the basics are still the same for crafting a great comic, no matter what kind of comic you’re doing.

Where to Host Your Webcomic

Finding Your Home Online
Alright, so you’ve done your prep work. You’ve practiced drawing your characters til your fingers went numb, filled an entire sketchbook with settings sketches and ideas and plot twists, and you’ve built up a nice buffer of fully finished pages, ready to share with the public. Now, it’s time to take the plunge and put your comic online.

This is the part that makes turns your comic into a webcomic, but this could be the most perplexing part: where, exactly, do you host your webcomic?

You’re in luck! These are great times to be a webcomicker, and you’ve got plenty of options. Here are a few of them.

Build your own website. Have you got some programming skills and some extra cash? Then creating your own website might be the path for you. This is the only way to have complete control over every aspect of your comic. You choose the layout, add special sections like Character Bios and World Information, put up your commission prices (if you’re offering them), integrate a blog or a forum – your imagination’s the limit! Well, that, and your budget.
Pros: Complete control, your own domain name, and the ability to craft an entire website devoted to your masterpiece.
Cons: You’re completely in charge, which means you have to wear a lot of hats – programmer, graphic designer, marketing exec, publicist… You’ll have to decide if you’re going to have ads, where to put them, and how to manage them, along with keeping all the content up to date and figuring out how to build your fanbase. It’s the most work-intensive of the options.

Use a webcomic publishing site. There are several sites out there devoted entirely to building communities of webcomics. You might not be able to customize the total look the way you could if you had your own website, but you also don’t have to worry about doing everything. Some even have ways for you to make money off your comic.
Pros: No programming experience needed! You also get to be part of an established community, which helps guide new readers to your work. Each site/community has their own personality, so check them out to see which one fits you best. Another pro is that many of them are free (although some have special features for “premium” users).
Cons: Less control over the total package, and you have to play nice with the rest of the community. Be sure to read all terms and conditions before signing in. Pay especially close attention to restrictions and make sure you retain all rights to your work.

Use deviantArt. It’s not a comic-specific site, but it is an art community site and there are plenty of people who use it to host their comics.
Pros: deviantArt has a large community already built in. With their gallery system, you can separate your comics and extra are into different folders. There isn’t direct advertising (and please, don’t be a spammer), but when someone favorites your work, other people can find it through those people’s favorites. And, as a recent addition, deviantArt has added the ability to sell premium content.
Cons: It’s not a webcomic community, and it is massive, meaning it could be hard to find your work. Also, some features are only available on Premium accounts, and while there are ways to customize your front page, you can only do so much.

Those are a few of the options available for hosting your webcomic. If you haven’t found a good fit for you, be creative! If a blogging platform suits your needs, use a blog. It all depends on how much work you want to put in, the benefits offered, and which site you like best. Just be sure to read all the terms and conditions first.

Webcomic Hosts

There are several sites out there devoted to hosting webcomics. These sites have built in communities with readers eager for new, quality webcomics. Here are a few of the ones I check out when I’m looking for new comics to read.
A free site that works on a tier system. Be sure to read their terms, as they require certain tiers to post on their site before any others (If, ya know, you’re going post your comic in a few different places).

Another free site, this one with a pretty cool format for webcomics. It lends itself well to both traditional and more experimental “visual stories.” You’ll have to check it out to see what I mean.

Smack Jeeves Webcomic Hosting
One of the longest-running webcomic hosts out there, this old standby has stayed current and competitve with their features. The basic level is free, while there is also a premium version with special features – for a fee, of course.

On the Topic of Partners…

A Little Advice for Those Not Going It Alone

Awhile ago, one of my readers asked me how the whole comic thing works with a partner, as she was thinking about starting a webcomic with a partner. Well, the short answer is: it depends on the partners.

Hear me out before you dub that the cop-out answer. There are numerous ways for people to work on webcomics together. For example, a group might decide to do things the Western way, with one person writing, one penciling, one doing flats, and one doing the coloring. Teams of two might have one writer and one artist – if you go to, you’ll see a lot of postings looking for either a writer or an artist in the forums. It’s a great way for writers who have a great idea for a comic but perhaps not the most talent in the art department or an artist really wants to do a webcomic but can’t write. Other teams may have less defined roles.

When it comes to Koni and myself, Koni’s role is that of “creative collaborator.” Essentially, she’s my muse. When I need a sounding board, get stuck on something, or need to work out the story lines, I turn to Koni. Waaaaay back in 2006, Strawberry Syrup got its start when Koni and I were watching a vampire anime and wondered why all the half-vampires always side with the humans. From there, one thing led to another, and next thing we know, we were in the nexus of creative fusion. We tossed out a lot of story ideas back then, ones I still have to get to. My role is to then take those ideas, flesh them out into chapters with dialogue and plots, and then do all the art.

Some things to consider when you take on a partner or partners for a webcomic:

Make sure everyone understands and is comfortable with their role.

Make sure this is someone you can work with for the long haul if you plan to do a long-run webcomic. Consider doing a trial run – a short one-shot story of 10-20 pages to make sure the two of you can work together. It’s also a good idea with groups, to make sure everyone’s happy with their roles.

Make sure everyone understands and is capable of meeting the deadlines. Your writer has to have the final draft of each page to the artist in enough time for the artist to finish the page in time for that week’s post. Having a sizable buffer will help here.

Be flexible and open to change. If your partner has some ideas regarding your area, at least listen. It could make your webcomic all the better.

Consider a legal agreement defining who owns what and how any profits will be split. This is especially important when you don’t know your partner, only have a professional relationship with them, or have plans to get your comic published. The last thing you want is for legal squabbling to get in the way of things.

Those are just a few of the things to keep in mind when starting a webcomic with partners. And remember, webcomics are supposed to be fun! Whenever more than one person is involved in a creative project, chances are there will be conflicts. Just try not to let them get too blown out of proportion, and you’ll be fine.

Places to Promote Your Webcomic

Or Check Out Your Competition!
Once you have your webcomic up and running, you’ll need to get some readers… and the best way of getting readers is webcomic communities and lists! Here are a few of the ones you’ll want to be on.
This site gives you your own forum, advertising possibilities, and the ability to see how many fans you have and what they like to read. You’ll need at least 10 pages done before you’ll be listed here.

This site lists comics by popularity through voting. You can even offer incentives to get people to vote, like extra art or even pages. You’ll need a banner to join this site.

Top Web Comics
Pretty much the exact same thing as buzzComix, but hey, the more exposure, the better!

The Belfry Webcomics Index
Another list of webcomics. It’s geared towards furry comics, but it allows other kinds to join, too.

The Wikipedia for Webcomics. List your comic here and make yourself a nice page – you might snag some new readers!

The Webcomic List
Yet another webcomic listing. If you don’t add yourself, one of your readers just might!

Start Your Own Squidoo Lens!
That’s right, Squidoo’s a great place to promote your webcomic, too! Build a lens dedicated to your characters, give readers an introduction to your story, put up polls, and don’t forget to add a guest book, all for free!

Kit’s Favorite Webcomics

The Ones I Love To Read
If you want to make your own webcomic, you probably have a list of ones you love. I know I do, and these are some of my favorites.

Strawberry Syrup
Shameless plug time! Yep, this is my own webcomic. Strawberry Syrup is the story of Sammy, a half-vampire severely lacking in the traditional angst catagory, and Hunter, his own personal (and kind of inept) Van Helsing. If you’re looking for a deep, dark, serious story questioning the meaning of existence… you might want to look elsewhere. XD

No Rest for the Wicked
Follow an insomniac princess, Little Red Riding Hood, and Puss in Boots on a quest through a land of fairy tales more like the original Brothers Grimm than anything you’d ever find in a Disney movie. Delightfully dark with a sense of humor, this well-written and stylishly drawn comic will pull you from page to page and leave you wanting more.

Looking For Group
Are you a fan of MMPORPGS? Love poking fun at them and time-treasured fantasy tropes? Then you’ll love this comic. It will have you laughing out loud.

Fantastically drawn fuzzy comic from the gangster era. The art will leave your jaw on the floor… and the characters are great, too.

One of those webcomics to make it onto the shelves of your local bookstore. Beautiful artwork, compelling characters and storyline, and better yet, it’s complete – no waiting for more pages or worrying about the author going on hiatus! Be sure to check out her other comic, The Phoenix Requiem, too!

In a world populated with superheroes, there is the inevitable issue of… what to do with all the little superkids. Aaron Williams answers this question with ps238, a secret public school geared towards educating the next generation of superheroes. But what happens when the son of the two most powerful superheroes in the universe HAS no powers? While it starts off a little slow, this comic’s got humor, time-travel, super-powered hijinks, and some honestly touching moments.

Another high fantasy one, featuring demonic aberrations, a possibly corrupt holy order, and a shapeshifting runewriter who screwed up a spell and is now trying to fix that with the help of his deaf friend. Great art, great story, and some great humor make this a great read.

Learn how to draw a pine tree

Learn how to draw a pine tree

A drawing of a pine tree – Pinus silvestris

Ten typical features of pine trees are explained and shown in a big size image of a pine tree drawing study. The tutorial explains how to draw the pine from the tree top with needles, the branches to the trunk with different zones of bark. The example drawing has been done in pen on site directly from nature. Learn about drawing a realistic looking pine tree. See more examples, get inspiration for own drawings here.
For those who are looking for a cheap book on drawing trees I can recomend my publication on Blurb “How to draw a tree”
If you were looking for botanical information I can recommend another squidoo lens Scots pine

Image credits: All images on this webpage ,if not otherwise stated, are creations by the author.Images and illustrations of products (in affiliate links) are used according to Squidoo TOS.

An example of a pine tree drawing – 10 typical features explained

Pen line drawing
Below there is a sketchbook study from life in pen, showing a pine tree. If you click on the image a large version accompanied with text will open in a new tab. May be you want to download and print out that file (ca. 2MB) and study it. There are ten numbers with explanations marked in the sketch that point out to some typical features of pine trees. Of course the appearance of pine trees vary between different species,age,environment and conditions for growth,but if you understand and reckognize the important features it will be easy to do your own drawing.

Explanations to a pine tree drawing with detail images

1. I started to draw the pine tree from the top. At first the shape of the tree top was drawn as outline. I looked at the tree, not at my paper and followed the outline I could see against the light sky. That is called blind drawing,if you don´t know about this check the link.


2. Then I tried to identify the pattern,rythm or structure of the pine tree needles and executed these details within the previously drawn outline

3. I noticed 3-4 basic patterns in the needles appearance and made a note of them. You might see things different and may develop your own signs or marks for representation. Perhaps you want to put those on a separate sheet.

4. I recognized that there are thin branches with and without needles at the edges of the bigger clusters. These thin branches look a bit like a spiders web and they contribute to the typical look of a pine tree.

5. Then I continued downwards with the outline of the trunk and added the branches. The branches of pine trees take typical turns, no other trees do it that way. For that reason one can recognize a pine from miles distance.

6. There are also many old,short pieces of branches that make for a tyical appearance too.

7. Bigger branches have clearly visible “shoulders” at the junction with the trunk.

8. A number of branches grows circular around the trunk every year. The yearly growth in height is still visible by the length of the free space between two of those circles,which can be seen by those small dark branch marks in the bark even when the branches are already gone.

The bark of a pine tree changes from top to bottom. in the top area it is bright and sometimes shiny. Then it changes in area of redish surface where the thin soft bark comes of like pieces of old skin.

9. Further down the bark gets darker and rougher with lots of fine lines on the surface.

10. At the bottom the bark is very thick and shows these typical deep cracks and gaps.

11. As comparison I have added a small piece of a spruce tree in the background. By observing and depicting the typical features of a tree it is possible to evoke a realistic impression even if the proportions are not exactly correct.

A pine tree as part of a landscape drawing

This is an India ink drawing which was done on a cold January morning. The young pine tree is an important part of the scenery. It is a different species (Pinus niger) with a more dense tree top. In the detail below one can see how the needle masses were represented by simple strokes in various directions.

How to draw a tree – The book published on BLURB

A field guide to drawing and sketching trees

The little book in format 8X5 is based on the content of this lens. It contains


70 black and white images of pen, ink and charcoal drawings. You will find many of the illustrations on this lens, but others also from related lenses on drawing deciduous and coniferous trees and some extra images too in the book.
The book summarizes my experiences in drawing trees. The majority of drawings are deciduous trees, but there is also an explanations about pine tree drwaing and spruce.

Link to the book How to draw a tree There is a full preview available.

Great examples of pine tree drawings by Artists on FLICKR

The very special tip !!!!!
I am glad that I found these inspiring drawings just by incident. I am glad that meantime the author has added his name. These great drawings are all done by Mike de Weese a professional illustrator..
I write this paragraphs really only to make sure that this link is not overlooked !

Plein air set of ink drawings
This set of Plein air drawings posted by FLICKR user Mike DeWeese contains a series of great drawings, mainly pine trees but also other conifers. The artists has studied all parts of the tree from trunk to tree top, including details and complete forests.
A very inspiring set of work !

How to draw a pine tree – a video instruction

Video for beginners – drawing a pine with ink and brush

Pine – pine tree by yanghaiying

Pine tree drawings online – link list

archive of pine tree drawings

Pine tree – Archives of American Art: Sketchbooks: Curators’ Choice
Worthington Whittredge sketchbook of a trip down the Rhine River 1849 / Worthington Whittredge, artist. Sketchbook : 1 v. : various media ; 15 x 24 cm. Worthington Whittredge papers. Archives of American Art.

Pine Tree Study on Flickr – Photo Sharing!
Nice study by Art*edges on FLICKR
#Loved the wild lines of this pine tree. So full of texture. Watercolors and ink.

Drawing the urban Landscape

Exploring the city with a sketchbook
Between April 2006 and May 2007 I have worked on an exhibition project about the urban landscape of the city of Stuttgart,Germany.
I have selected more than 30 drawings for a book now available online at BLURB.
The first 10 pages show panoramic drawings together with the essay about the urban landscape and the experience of drawing such a complex subject. The following pages show two panoramic drawings per page without text.

More drawing lenses by Edition Handdruck

Landscape drawing – improve your skills efficiently and fast !
8 tips how to improve your landscape drawing skills efficiently and fast.Everybody who can write her/his own name on a piece of paper can achieve a high level of drawing skills. Drawing can be learned much more easy than painting and it gives so much pleasure !Link to some of my sketches and drawing

How to draw a tree
How to draw a tree – Find a collection of tree drawings and explanations how they have been done. Get inspired by famous examples and have a look at online drawing tutorials. Find your own way how to draw a tree.

How to draw deciduous trees
This is an introduction to drawing deciduous trees from life.MPM, Monotype printmaker Martin explains how he draws decidous trees with a pen and with charcoal. There are no rules in drawing,every body can develop a very own way to draw a tree. If your looking for some inspirations or ideas have a loo

Artist sketchbooks – little nothings turn into big somethings
For decades artist sketchbooks have only been noticed by a limited specialist audience which got access to those precious resources mostly only after the death of the creator. Excerpts might have been published in print media, but mostly only at the price of damaging or destroying the sketchbooks.

Sketching gear – what does the beginner need ?
Sketching outdoors is a great activity and a rewarding hobby for everyone. This lens is for those how want to start sketching outdoors in the city or in rural landscape. What sketching gear would you need to have with you ? What kind of gear is suitale and what should the quality be like ?

How to draw deciduous trees

How to draw deciduous trees

Tips on how to draw deciduous trees

This is an introduction to drawing deciduous trees in a realistic way from life. This site explains how to draw deciduous trees with a pen and with charcoal. If your looking for some inspirations or ideas for tree drawing have a look here.

The website discusses the main features of deciduous trees and how to draw them. First simple drawings point out to the basic proportions and parts of a tree. Then tree trunk, branches and tree tops are explained further. Examples and methods how to represent bark and foliage of trees in drawings are given. Finally the making of a very detailed ink drawing of an apple tree orchard is demonstrated in a sequence of intermediate states. Herre you can see the process of drawing step by step.

Let´s try to draw some simple apple trees !

A tutorial for beginners
In the beginning a simple four step approach to drawing trees with pen or ink might help.

In order not to get overwhelmed by the many details of a tree I commend to begin with studies from a distance.
First try to depict the shape or outline of trunk and tree top.

In a second step larger internal forms in the tree top are mapped. The confusing pattern of leaves in fact follows a certain order and on observation one can see that the leaves are organised in typical “groups” following the branch and twig structure of the specific tree species.

In a third step the larger forms can be described further by filling them with a typical smallpattern that the leaves are forming.
I a final fourth step one might add hatches to add shadows, thus the drawing gains more three dimensional look.

No.1 : Starting with the trunk

After the outer form was established I continued with drawing the trunk and then continued to represent the foliage in shade on the right side of the trunk in small circular movements with the pen.
Later the hatching was added for the shadows on the trunk and for the darker tonality in the shadowed area.

The trunk of a tree is a very interesting subject for further exploration. The ink drawing below shows the stem of an old apple tree.

No.2 Mapping the tree tops

detailed view of line pattern
The foliage of trees shows, depending on light, lots of different shades or tonalities. By squinting I identified darker and light areas or clusters of twigs with foliage that have different tonality. Then I try to map the borderlines between darker and the lighter areas by blind drawing.. With some experience you will notice that eqach tree species has a specific “organisation” of branches and twigs and therefore shows a typical pattern of leaves which are grouped by the twigs and branches. So the method here is to establish the bigger forms first and then proceed to the next lower level in the hierarchy.

No.3 Patterns of leaves and foliage

round or jagged outlines?
Each tree species has it´s own pattern or rythm of leaves. I tried to imitate the rythm I saw with my pen movements. The leaves seemed to be arranged a bit like little roof tiles. Also it makes a big difference whether the leaves have rounded edges like on fruit trees or more sharp distinct edges like a red oak or a maple tree. Jagged leaf outlines should be represented by a pattern of jagged lines if the natural character of the tree shall be displayed in the drawing.
With light or heavier pressure on the pen I tried to create thinner/lighter or thicker darker foliage.

How to draw foliage in tree tops

This sketchbook drawing shows a group of apple trees. In the detail below it can be seen how I tried to represent the variations tonalities in the foliage. A realistic impression can be achieved by putting emphasize on the outer branches and leaves of the tree tops and drawing them in very dark tonality. Leaves and twigs at the very tree top often seem to look very dark or almost black in contrast the bright sky. As soon as you move your eyes downwards from the very tree top the foliage seems to get lighter and colors become more visible, because the bright sky does not dazzle the eyes so much.

Apple tree orchard – tree drawing in ink

Development of a landscape drawing with trees
apple trees with ink drawing on site, plein air With more experience the draughtsman develops a strong feel for proportions and an excellent eye to hand co-ordination. The masters seem to know already how the finsished drawing will look on paper and all they need to do is to put it down with their drawing tool. I have not come that far yet, but meantime I can estimate proportions fairly well and I find myself starting a drawing without establishing the outlines visibly on paper first.

See here an example of a detailed landscape study, an apple tree orchard. I have documented the progress of the drawing on several subsequent days. I avoided cross hatching with purpose in this drawing as cross hatchings tend to obscure details and thus reduce the clarity of a drawing. Of course sometimes that can be a wanted effect too.

ink drawing apple tree orchard

I started the drawing with the base of the important tree trunk on the left and then proceeded further to the other more distant trunks and finally into the branches and tree tops. The tree trunks functioned as basic grid and reference for proportions and spatial order. Working all over the page helps to keep the drawing coherent and to make the right decisions about gradadtions of tonalities too. The best is to know from the very start which parts of the drawing shall be the lightest ones and which ones should be the darkest.

In the decidous forest – a charcoal drawing

Oak and beech forest in spring,strategies to deal with an abundance of detail.
The drawing on the right was done on site very near to my home. It shows a beech and oak forest in late spring. I remember those big leaves of Coltsfoots that bloom early along those machine path prepared for logging of timber. You can see those leaves in the foreground on the left.

I found the best way to adopt to the overwhelming amount of details in a forest scenery is to examine the subject before starting with the drawing. I decided to built the picture around the bright spot where the sun hits the grass. It was that light that attracted me to choose that subject.
The big trunks and some smaller ones established the composition grid in this drawing. I start with light marks and lines because mistakes can be wiped out with a cloth easily and the darkest darks should be placed at the end with consideration. The darkest and the lightest spots in a drawing attract the viewer eyes like strong magnets. Wrong placement, wrong form of those “highlights” can spoil the most beautiful drawing. In order to pull the viewer into the picture I placed the sunlit spot of grass at the end of the over grown path in the very center of the paper. To enhance the brightness I placed the darkest darks around the bright spot, which seems brighter than the blank paper in the sky or the foreground.

After the vertical grid was established I concentrated on typical structures of foliage and shrubs and added the background, which filled the spaces between tree trunks. I used a soft eraser to recover some lights in the background to imitate the impresionj that the pattern of light spots on the leaves evoke. To improve that illusion I added dark small marks that resemble the form of leaves.

Finally the foreground was put in. Instead of trying the impossible, to copy each and every grass or leave, I concentrated to represent samples of some of the typical forms and structures I saw. After all the drawing is a simplification of the real scenery, that is just detailed enough to keep up the illusion.

How to draw a tree – The book published on BLURB

A field guide to sketching and drawing trees

70 black and white images of pen, ink and charcoal drawings. You will find many of the illustrations on this lens, but others also from related lenses on drawing deciduous and coniferous trees and some extra images too in the book.
The book summarizes my experiences in drawing trees. The majority of drawings are deciduous trees, but there is also an explanations about pine tree drwaing and spruce.

Link to the book How to draw a tree There is a full preview available.

Quick tree sketch with charcoal

One day a thunderstorm surprised me when drawing. Quickly I seeked cover under a bridge and made a quick drawing of young trees in a rain shower

A look to the edge of a forest

Drawing a forest with pen
This sketchbook drawing was part of an exhibiton project “A year in the vine yard”.
The full sketchbook can be seen here “A year in the vine yard”
Study of a willow tree
Ink drawing in four stages
drawing of a willow tree in four stages

This ink drawing was done in several short session of 20-30 minutes due to cold winter temperatures. The depiction of the many think twiges at the top of the willow tree was a challenge. Not all of those visible in reality found their way into the drawing. More than ofteb less is more in drawing.

Drawing the urban landscape – publication on Blurb

Exploring the city with pen and sketchbook

Between April 2006 and May 2007 I have

worked on an exhibition project about the urban landscape of the city of Stuttgart,Germany.
I have selected more than 30 drawings for a book now available online at BLURB.
The first 10 pages show panoramic drawings together with the essay about the urban landscape and the experience of drawing such a complex subject. The following pages show two panoramic drawings per page without text.

Draw people in a landscape

Draw people in a landscape

Landscapes with people how to draw them

I love to draw and sketch outdoors and my favorite subject is the landscape. A landscape picture changes a lot when you add the human figure. Often paintings and drawings require figures. Learn here some tricks how to depict people in clothes as they appear every day,moving around on the streets or in the landscape. Be prepared when someone shows up in your landscapes drawing on a sunny morning like the guy with the hunters hat in mine. He has not been there on the previous days, but suddenly he showed up and walked through my picture in a minute.

I want to pass on some of the skills which might help to get those figures into the landscape easier and I want to propose some easy exercises which might help you to be prepared when someone steps into your drawing ! Most important: do not hesitate, start drawing people today !

There is also a list of the best rated books on drawing people or the human figure. Drawing People: How to Portray the Clothed Figure helps you to improve your skills in drawing people as they apear everyday in their clothing.

The proportions of a human figure

Some very basic facts about the proportions of the human body
There are a few easy to remember guidlines about the proportions of the human figure that help to draw people. Click on the images for enlarged views.

A fact that is often ignored is that the head of a human is only about 1/8 of the full body length or 1/4 of the upper half. Of course individual measures deviate from this rule.
how to draw people – proportions of the human body
The eyes are located in the middle of a frontal view of the head. The distance between eyebrowns, tip of the nose and chin are almost equal. Looked at a head from the side it fits into the shape of a square.

It is a good exercise to draw figures in different positions from imagination using the basic knowledge of the proportions of the human body.

Figure Studies in the public

drawing people in public places
Drawing people in public places is thrilling for many reasons and not easy to do. I admire sketchers who are able to capture people in movement. In the beginning it might be helpful to choosea place where people do not walk by, but stop standing or sit. I used the situation in a museum for some studies of visitors and staff. Usually I start with the head and work down my way over shoulders to the feet of the person.

Also sketching at the busstop or at the train station is a good choice as you will find people who do not move around that fast.

I always have a sketchbook with me because waiting lounges in hospitals and other maybe more pleasant public places are great for drawing and sketching people. Waiting time goes by much faster.

How to draw people in a landscape with watercolor

This video demonstrates how the draw or paint simple figure shapes to represent people in a landscape with watercolor

More proposals for studies of the human figure

It is not necessary to go out into the public to draw people.
For exercise purposes you might consider also:

drawing from photographs – your family album
drawing from a TV film or a video

Especially drawing from video is great because you can stop and repeat a sequence that you like.

Learn how to draw a female body with the proportions

video tutorial
This is agreat tdemonstratioon haow to draw a femal teenager body with the right proportions. It start already with an important feature for drawing kids. The teenager bodey is about 6 heads high, whereas the adult body is about 8 heads high. The younger the child the bigger is the head compared to the body.

How to Draw Female Body Proportions: Teenager to Kid, Manga Style

Art supplies for figure drawing

anatomical models for drawing studies at home
Anatomical models can be very helpful for studies on the human body. The limbs can be moved and fixed on almost any position and the model can be drawn from various viewpoints.

So how does it work to draw people in a landscape ?

After some time spent with life studies you will develop a good eye and memory for the position that a human has taken in the scenery in front of you. Even if you could not finsish the specific figure you will be able to reconstruct the situation later. I often only mark the position of the heads and “hang the bodies” later. You can even complete the drawings at home or continue after you have moved to another place. For example the person you started to draw was sitting on a bench,but now stands up and walks away. You can wait until someone else will sit down or you move to another place where people are still sitting on a bench.

Before I place a figure in an empty landscape I sometimes do some trial drawings in the sketchbook to make sure I get he right size and proportions. Then I might use a transparent paper laid over the sketch to trace an exact copy of the draft. Then I can move the draft on transparent paper over the landscape study until I find the right position.