How To Draw A Tree

How To Draw A Tree

Learn how to draw freeform tree trunks & roots with The Etherington Brothers! Grow your trees boldly & add visual details such as bark patterns & wood grain.


Learn how you can draw… or learn how to think when you draw with the Etherington Brothers!




Tree Bark

The texture and contours of tree bark can serve as a bold gestural line through your composition.



Bark patterns such as birch are the simplest place to begin, as they run around the circumference of the trunk.



A trunk with gnarly vertical “ribs” can be described well with a horizontal bark pattern.



A fine, vertical bark pattern can be drawn as if it were wood grain.



Trees such as oaks have their ridges broken horizontally into fragments.



  1. Draw some random verticals
  2. Connect horizontally and diagonally
  3. Add shadow to show form



If the tree has a lot of knots, use the concentration of the bark pattern to describe the forms.



A twist within the trunk breaks the bark up into areas of interest.



For practice:

Twist a towel, see how it divides and creates cavities in the folds.



Flake off sections of bark to reveal the trunk.



Tree Roots

Tree roots are a fantastic, creative element to add tons of visual interest to your woodland and jungle environments.



The root system reflects the branches of the tree, albeit with a more compact set of larger root “branches.”



Most trees hide their roots under the ground, but we want to reveal them!



Imagine the ground beneath your tree has worn away.

  1. Draw some basic branches
  2. Turn upside down and bury up to base of trunk
  3. Lower ground level until you see small gaps beneath roots
  4. See the form – it’s all tubes!
  5. Add bark detail



Growing roots down over rocks allows you more freedom over the design of their shapes.



Allow the rock to dictate the spread of the roots.



Billow and pinch the roots.



Imagine the roots as supple, uneven rolls of pastry, laid across each other in rough plaits.



About The Etherington Brothers

The Etherington Brothers are the creators of WORLD’S MOST SUCCESSFUL ARTBOOK & UK’S MOST SUCCESSFUL BOOK of ALL-TIME on Kickstarter. Book-makers, idea sharers. Disney, Dreamworks, etc.