Rural Route One - Artist Vincent Whitehead ballpoint pen art

Drawing Trees Tutorial 2 — part 2

by Vincent D Whitehead   ©2008

Leaf Work - Tree Foliage

Detail and tone work
Next comes the detail and tone work. Still using your Fine point pen, look at the individual leaves. What can you see? If all you can see is tone or light reflection then don't put in any detail lines. But, if you can see details, go ahead and put them in. These would be holes or dark spots, veins or insect eggs. I have even put in small caterpillars at times. After you are happy with the detail lines, it's time to put in the tones and shadows. The drag method works well here. For leaf work it's a much smaller motion and done very carefully. You must pay attention to the outline of the leaf and the growth pattern of the leaf when making the drag stroke. I also pay attention to how the leaf is formed or bent to determine what direction I make the drag stroke in. In this close-up view you can see the different layers of tone on each leaf and the use of direction of stroke to show growth pattern in each leaf. You can also see the overlapping shadow of the top leaves on the lower leaves as indicated by a step darker tone just below the upper leaf edge.

Drawing Trees - close up of foreground leaf drawing process
Once the leaf clump is outlined, the detail and tone work is completed and I have built the layers to create depth in the shadows I put in the actual branch itself. I start at the point closest to the tree trunk and work my way out to the end of the leaf clump. I use the Fine point pen to do this and work in a light line stroke from left to right. Once I get the basic flow of the branch in I will add small twig work and finally a few leaf stems. After that I go back and add layers in areas of the branch to show cast shadows from overlapping leaves. I then put in the final tone layers to show shadow from the opposite side of the branch from the light source.

Drawing Trees - close up of foreground leaf drawing
As you can see in this image, there really are only one or two leaves that are close to being drawn completely. Most of the leaves are really only portions or ends of leaves. I only used the darkest of tones in areas that overlapping leaves prevent almost all of the light from getting through. The next branch above is done as this first one was.

Drawing Trees - close up of foreground leaf drawing progress
You can see, in this image, that I have drawn what I call a "completed leaf". It's just above the start of the main leaf clump in the second branch near the tree trunk. These leaves will be approximately the same size since they are close together in the image and relatively the same distance from the viewer.

! Remember, as objects in the scene get farther away from the viewer they need to get smaller. Details also get less obvious. This helps to create depth in the image. Consistency in this reduction in size and detail throughout the drawing will help build a realistic or believable drawing.

Drawing Trees - close up of foreground leaf drawing completed
This is the second leaf clump finished. You can see that I left it a bit lighter than the first clump. There is a bit more light showing on sections of this leaf clump than on the lower one and I want to leave myself some highlights to work with a bit further into the drawing. So, for now it will be left as it is. You can also see in the image that I went on and finished putting in the first and second layers of line work in the tree in the mid-ground on the far bank. I will come back to this in a later phase.