Painting Blog

Quick Holiday Decor: Paint a Wintery Watercolor Forest

Winter is upon us and, once again, we get to marvel at the beauty of snow! Snow transforms the world with a soft, sparkly white blanket, and low-hanging clouds add to the magical atmosphere. So let’s capture some of that magic with our watercolor paints! Read along to learn how to paint watercolor pine trees and create a winter-y watercolor forest.

Watercolor Pine Trees Painting Tutorial

For this project, you will need:

  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolor paints: phthalo green and ivory black
  • Paintbrush
  • Water

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First, lets learn how to paint a basic watercolor pine tree.

watercolor pine tree

Step 1:

Mix phthalo green and ivory black to get a dark green. (Read a bit more about mixing watercolor greens here.) Starting at the top of your paper, paint a thin, short line down. This is the top of the tree.

Step 2:  

Make some short branches just below the top of the tree. To do this, place a loaded brush near the top of the tree and sweep your brush slightly down and out, curving back up a little at the ends. Do this on each side of the tree a little ways down. Think triangle shape with a little flare at the ends. 

Step 3:

Work your way down the tree in sections, making each series of branches a little longer than the ones above. Leave a little space in between sections. Pine trees look more realistic and interesting if they are not solid branches, but have a little space in between.

Also make sure to make some branches covering the trunk of the tree. Vary the direction and thickness of the branches.

Step 4:  

Paint a short, thick line at the bottom for the trunk.

Next, let’s create a value scale.

Before you begin painting a whole forest, it’s helpful to create a value scale on a scrap piece of watercolor paper. This will help keep your values on track as you work on your forest painting. So keep your value scale and use it as a reference.

watercolor value scale

To make a value scale, divide your paper into three equal sections.  In the first section, paint a very light wash.  In the second section, paint a medium wash and in the third, paint a dark wash. Let dry.

Now you are ready to paint a forest of watercolor pine trees.

Step 1: Light wash

winter forest first wash

Using the first and lightest value from your value scale, paint a row of trees. These trees should be very subtle and barely visible. Start these trees near the top of your paper and end them somewhere in the bottom third. Let dry.

Step 2:  Second Medium Wash

winter forest 2nd wash

Using your middle value, paint another row of trees on top of the first row. This row is darker and should stand out against the lighter first row. Start the tops of these trees slightly below the first row and end near the bottom of the paper. Let dry.

Step 3:  Third Dark Wash

winter forest 3rd wash

Using your darkest value, paint a third row of trees on top of the first two, with the tops starting below the second row. This row should be much darker than the other two rows and will stand out. Paint these trees all the way down to the bottom of the paper.

watercolor pine tree forest

These watercolor pine trees look great together as a grouping. So paint a few, frame them, and set them up together on a shelf. Now you can enjoy a magical winter forest scene inside your home!

Learn to paint watercolor pine trees and make a stunning wintery forest scene

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Winter Watercolor Tutorial

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Watercolor for beginners

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9 Comments

Tobia | craftaliciousme

I am in love with those drawings and I I think I will get out my watercolors and try it. Its a great tutorial. Thanks a lot for inspiring and Happy New Year,
Tobia

Reply
Elise Engh

Thank you and I hope you do give it a try! Happy New Year!

Reply
Vintage Mermaid

Absolutely beautiful! Love your tutorial and I will follow you to see what else you can amazed us with!

Reply
Becky Peters

I did one and I love it. I may try another one or two. thanks for a great tutorial

Reply
Eva Espiriti

As an art teacher, I’m always looking for new and fresh ideas for my students. This is a great tutorial, and has inspired me for a perfect subjectfor my new watercolor class. We have lots of snow on the ground here at home, and it will help to visualize the scene.
Thank you
Eva Espiriti

Reply
Elise Engh

I used to be an art teacher too- such fun! I hope our class loves this project!

Reply
Tami

Thank you so much for this awesome beginners tutorial! I can’t wait to give this a try this week!

Reply
Tonya

How did you create the three different value washes? Did you add more white to each? Or did you buy more colors?

Reply
Ramona

I LOVE this simple tutorial!!!! Thank you!!!! What a great project to jump start creativity! I can’t wait to do this!!!!!

Reply

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