Home Assignment: Volume – Drawing Tree Branches

Materials: 4B pencil, eraser, drawing pad, photo reference, optional: colorful media for the background 

You will be drawing a tree from a photo-reference provided. Choose a logical orientation of your paper: horizontal or vertical. 

Using your pencil, draw the tree as you see it on the photo – as close to the image as possible. Feel free to use your eraser as needed. 

The best way to recreate this image is by drawing the negative shapes around the branches and between branches. “Negative shapes” are the spaces that you see between branches. Draw the largest areas first, to make composing more manageable, before addressing the details.

Draw the branches all the way to the edges of the page

Drawing a real tree, compared to drawing a tree from imagination, requires more thinking. Try to understand which way each branch is turning on the image, and turn it the same way in your drawing – by means of concentric circles, just as you did in class. 

In the areas of darker shadows, draw more of the ‘hugging’ concentric lines to emphasize the shading, similar to what you saw with the Albrecht Dürer’s drawing, which in turn will express the light on those branches and create the impression of roundness. Keep your “C’s” and “backward C’s” rounded, not narrow (those narrow C’s tend to “flatten” the rounded shapes).

If your drawing does not look exactly like the tree on the image, it is OK, – trees come in all shapes and sizes. The most important is to express the direction of the branches correctly and add shading. 

Your signature is the last touch: it indicates that the drawing is finished. 


On the completed drawing, color the negative spaces between and around branches (use either colored pencil, marker, watercolor, or tempera), leaving the tree white, the color of the paper. Adding color will turn your drawing into “mixed media”, giving it a more refined appearance. 

Take a snapshot when finished!

Please print one copy. If you don’t have a printer, have it pulled up on your computer screen.

Hand Study with Bible, Albrecht Dürer, 1506

Email hello@primamateriainstitute.com with any questions.

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