How to

How to Draw Tree Trunks

In this comprehensive tutorial, we will explore various techniques for drawing lifelike tree trunks using pen and ink. Drawing tree trunks may seem challenging, but by understanding the key elements of roundness and bark texture, you can create convincing and visually appealing drawings. So let’s dive in and discover the art of capturing the essence of tree trunks on paper!

The Essence of Roundness and Bark Texture

To accurately depict the roundness of a tree trunk, it is essential to darken one side more than the other. This simple technique creates a sense of dimension and depth, making the trunk appear three-dimensional. Additionally, capturing the texture of bark is crucial in conveying the realism of the drawing. An effective way to achieve this is by using pen strokes that imitate the shape and texture of bark.

pen and ink tutorials drawing tree trunk

By incorporating these techniques, you can quickly bring your drawings to life. Remember, it is not necessary to overwhelm your drawing with excessive detail. Instead, strive to convey the right feel with as few strokes as possible.

Adding Finishing Touches and Grounding the Trunk

To enhance the believability of the tree trunk, consider adding some crevices and rough edges using tapered dark strokes. This simple addition adds character and authenticity to your drawing. It is equally important to ground the trunk appropriately, ensuring it feels connected to its environment. Grass or other ground cover can be used to achieve this effect.

pen and ink tutorials drawing tree trunk

Emphasizing Roundness and Perspective

To give the trunk a rounded appearance, gradually increase the darkness on one side. This technique mimics how light falls unevenly on rounded objects. For example, if the sun is shining from the right, the left side of the trunk should be the darkest, while the right side should be the lightest. Experiment with different levels of darkness to find the desired effect.

pen and ink tutorials tree trunks

As trees recede into the distance, their trunks become smaller. You can apply the same technique discussed above for trunks of different sizes, maintaining their roundness and perspective. However, for extremely small trunks, known as saplings, or trunks that are far away, a simplified technique called the “2-tone technique” can be used.

pen and ink tutorials drawing tree trunk landscapes

Enhancing Trunk Character

To infuse character into your tree trunk drawings, you can explore various techniques. The use of tapered dark strokes can impart a sense of age and character to the trunk, while longer flowing bark lines can create interesting crevices. Incorporating these techniques, along with unique tree knot shapes, adds personality and depth to your trunks.

drawing tree trunk - grounding

Exploring Different Bark Texturing Strokes

While the bark stroke discussed earlier is an excellent starting point for texturing trunks, there are several other strokes you can employ. For instance, tapered dark strokes themselves can be used to indicate bark, lending age and character to the trunk. Additional techniques and stroke variations can be discovered in my comprehensive workbook.

Pen and Ink drawing, tree trunk

Bringing Trunks to Life with Details

As trunks approach the viewer, adding more details becomes crucial. Outlining individual bark pieces and texturing them individually can capture the intricacies of bark shape and texture. By using a range of shapes and shading techniques, you can create a variety of bark textures, each with its own unique character.

Pen and Ink drawing, tree trunk

Capturing Trunk Variations

Different tree species possess unique bark characteristics. To accurately depict a specific tree, closely observe and study the shape and texture of its bark. Experiment with different pen marks and strokes to achieve an accurate representation on paper. Below is an example of drawing a birch tree trunk.

Pen and Ink drawing, tree trunk

Mastering Trunk Techniques with Templates and Workbooks

To further refine your skills in drawing tree trunks, I offer a downloadable PDF with templates and finished drawings. These resources provide hands-on exercises and step-by-step guidance to enhance your pen and ink drawing abilities. Additionally, my pen and ink drawing workbook series, available in paperback and Kindle, offers detailed insights and techniques worth exploring.

Compositions and Video Demonstrations

In this tutorial, we have focused primarily on drawing and texturing individual trunks. To take your drawings to the next level, learn how to incorporate multiple trunks into pleasing compositions. Discover various composition techniques and watch video demonstrations on my YouTube channel.


Drawing tree trunks can be a rewarding and enjoyable artistic endeavor. Remember, practice and experimentation are key to honing your skills in pen and ink drawing. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or suggestions for future content. Let’s continue to explore the wonders of drawing together!

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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