How to Paint Foliage and Trees
So, I hope I can explain just how I approach it by some sketchbook pages, and then I’ll also do a few drawings to give you some ideas. So here, with the plant on the left, I just drew it quickly. I didn’t look at how many leaves it had or whatever I just tried to indicate the shape and the character of the plant, and then the color actually does the rest. At the back, you can see that there’s a tree.
I didn’t draw the whole tree. I just actually made some marks to indicate the leaves, and again, the green does the rest. This one is interesting too because often, color will explain a lot in your drawing but here I decided not to use watercolor but use three colors of ink to add layers and depth in the drawing and the technique that I use for it is mainly a one-liner. So trying not to take off my pen off the page while I am drawing. That way I can draw quickly and skip details, and still, I capture the whole scene in front of me.
So as you can see the trees are also a one-liner. These are just curly bits trying to indicate the shape of leaves and it kind of. To me this kind of drawing is also just an experiment and it is exciting to see that you don’t need to draw a lot of detail to describe a certain scene or a certain subject and they’re in the back. There was some foliage and all kinds of different plans and just like in the previous drawing I made some marks just quickly indicating the different layers of the plants on that small square in the back.
And here’s another good example of how color explains a lot again I just drew a few leaves. This is done with a brush pen, and the color explains the rest I could have left it out, but it’s important for the scene that this marketplace is actually surrounded by greens, but the focus is on the marketplace and not on the greens. In this page, I actually tried a lot of different ways to describe greens here on the left.
I did kind of a one-liner with some of the leaves and then I added a few layers of watercolor trying to make marks with my watercolor brush, but then here on the right I decided to just make a bold shape. Using just watercolor, making it dark at the bottom of the shape. And that actually really works well too, to indicate the shape of the trees. They are in the background. They don’t need a lot of detail.
And then here, I did add a little bit of detail because there are all kinds of different plants, different shapes, different colors. And I really enjoyed trying to indicate those leaf shapes, even though I couldn’t see them exactly because they were on the other side of the canal. But still this shows a variety of greens foliage and even flowers. And sometimes I do really look at the shape of leaves of a tree, especially when it’s just a small bit in the drawing just to indicate “hey, there’s a tree here” I just draw a few of the shapes hanging into the frame.
Okay, so let’s do that in our sketchbook. Let’s start with a one-liner just indicating the outline and the shape of a tree And then you can also add some gaps in there or some loose leaves to give it a little bit of life, otherwise, it’s just a flat white shape. Even without the branches, the viewer will understand that these leaves are part of the tree. Of course, there are many shapes of plants and trees and with a one-liner you can do other shapes as well.
When you really study a leaf, the shape can be super interesting to draw. And sometimes you just don’t need that much information. You just need a line in the corner of the page to show: “hey, there’s a tree in the right hand side here”. You don’t need anything more than that. You can make some simple shapes and marks to indicate foliage and different kinds of plants.
And you can of course just use watercolors no pen at all. Making one big shape. Or using your brush and giving it a bit more texture. And then you can also add more layers to it as well. What you can also do is flatten out your brush, just by squeezing it between your thumb and your index finger.
And then you can make a lot of interesting marks maybe for grass for example. So these are my approaches towards drawing and painting trees and greens I am still learning. So if you have any tips, I would love to hear them of course, and I hope this was helpful and that you will try it.