Ah foliage! It is said that “green”is the easiest color on the eye.Well,I can’t say no to that because there is something so serene and calming about the color.Well this post is all about sharpening your tree-skills.Make your counterparts go green with envy when you show them how to paint watercolor trees in not one but four different forms!

Learn how to paint watercolor four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

You know, after making this tutorial, I’ve been bashing myself for not trying out trees earlier.I had such a good time creating these and I loved how simple dots and shapes created a spectacular tree.

The only reason I started practicing them is because I get asked often to create a landscape painting tutorial.But before I do that,I thought it would be a good idea to learn about some of the main elements that comprise of one.And the most important ( according to me) being trees.This tutorial will not only teach you how to paint watercolor trees but four different ways of doing so based on the “form”of the tree.This is a part 1 installment of a 2 part tutorial and you’ll learn four more tree forms in the next one.

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Materials you’ll need to paint watercolor trees are:-

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Sakura Koi watercolors travel set
Sakura Koi watercolors travel set

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Winsor and Newton watercolor brushes
Winsor and Newton watercolor brushes

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Palette
Palette

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Winsor and Newton watercolor paper(cold press)
Winsor and Newton watercolor paper(cold press)

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The watercolor brand I used for the tutorial is the Sakura Koi travel kit.For the beginner in watercolors,I would highly recommend this watercolor set.They are about $15 for the set of 12 on Amazon and is perfect while traveling.

  • Yellow green
  • Viridian hue
  • Lemon yellow
  • Yellow ochre

Before I start with the actual step by step process,I would like to talk about the four different tree forms I’ll be showing you today.Starting from the top left in the clockwise direction, we have columnar,spreading,open and round.The trees are classified according to the shape in which they grow.I’ve outlined the shape in black to give you an idea of how you can lay down your pencil guides.

 

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

1.The “columnar” tree form

As the name suggests, the shape of the tree resembles a column.Cherry and Red maple are two examples of this particular tree form.I did not use a pencil to draw the shape but you may do so if you are not confident in using paints straightaway.I used the color “lemon yellow”as the base by painting small blobs of paint starting from the top.Proceed down and mix in some “viridian hue”. Since, this is the base layer,I watered down the colors.

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

At this point I mixed “viridian hue”along with the “yellow green” and allowed it to blend.The beautiful thing about watercolors is that it will do it’s thing if you let it.See how beautifully both the colors blended in together here.Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

I then added a teeny bit of “lemon yellow” while the paint was still wet.I then continued to paint blobs of color to darken it until it formed the shape of the tree.Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Lastly,I mixed some “yellow ochre”with “viridian hue” in the shadow areas which are mostly at the base of the tree just before the trunk starts.You may also put in few paint spots of this shadow color here and there to show depth.Finish off with painting the trunk and the ground below.

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

2.The “spreading”tree form

Have you seen this beautiful tree called the Banyan tree which is huge and spans so wide that it can give shade to a number of people?This is the best example of a “spreading”tree form . I started with “lemon yellow” as the base color.Then I added the color “yellow green” on either side of the tree.

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

After that I darkened the tree using “viridian hue” keeping the centre part yellowish.I assumed that this was where the sunlight was falling on the tree.Continue to darken the color of the tree.

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Finally mix “yellow ochre”and “viridian hue”and add a few blobs of the darkest shade here ad there to show depth.Banyan tree have these hanging roots which I painted along with the trunk of the tree.

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

The “round”tree form

This tree was so much fun and the easiest of the lot.Well,I don’t have to tell you why do I?Obviously the shape was the simplest to do.Black maple and hackberry are two examples.As per previously explained , start with the lightest shade.

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Follow up with the darker colors.Just don’t make the shape look rigid.Although round, you can always have some stray leaves sticking out.

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Paint the tree tree trunk and if necessary , change the shape of the leaves.To get that spherical shape,make sure the base is dark and it gets lighter as you proceed upwards.

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

The “open” tree form

I think this tree is the prettiest of the lot. Probably because of the asymmetrical nature of it.Paint few blobs of paint randomly making the top part of the tree the biggest.You may refer to the shape photo I showed in the beginning to know where to place the leaves.

 

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Apply the darker colors over the base layer.

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Add a bit of “lemon yellow”to show the highlight areas.

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

And then add the shadow colors to make it look realistic. Paint the tree trunk and a few branches that join the different blobs you painted.And there you have it !

Learn how to paint watercolor trees four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

Learn how to paint watercolor four different ways in this first installment of a series of tutorials by Zakkiya Hamza of Inkstruck Studio

What do you think?

Which one is your favorite tree form?And do you have a favorite tree?Mine is the Banyan tree because it brings back fond memories of my childhood.What other element of a landscape painting would you like me to do a tutorial on?Let me know in the comments below.And don’t forget to hashtag with #makeinkstruck on Instagram if you try this out.

And these are the four different ways to paint watercolor trees according to their shape.I hope the photos are self explanatory and easy to follow.Cheers.Have a lovely day!