Want to Draw Landscapes? Learn to Draw These 3 Elements First

To make the best out of landscape drawing, the knowledge of linear and aerial perspective is essential. Nevertheless, you can start out today with this simple approach: first practice drawing individual elements of a landscape. Sketching just the clouds or the trees, for example, are the first steps to moving on to an easy landscape drawing.

Use these easy landscape drawing exercises to master elements of nature before conquering a whole composition.


colored pencil drawing of clouds and moon

There are several types of clouds: low, middle and high clouds with different shapes depending on their height in the sky. Here, I’m going to discuss the most common cloud shapes and how to draw them accurately.

cloud shapes

Cumulus and stratocumulus clouds are the most common clouds you see in the sky. To draw them correctly, copy their curvy and fluffy top curve and a narrow, almost flat bottom line. In the grayscale picture above, you see my markings illustrating this idea.

In landscape drawing, clouds also observe the rule of linear perspective to create the illusion of space and dimension. Study the pictures below. They are large and sparse at the top of the frame, and they become smaller, denser and more linear getting close to the horizon line. These are necessary features to draw for realistic perception. 

cumulonimbus clouds

Clouds with vertical development seem to rise right from the horizon line. They often sit very low above the ocean in a hot and humid environment that creates these kinds of clouds. While their shapes can vary, focus on several major forms found within the cloud, and then separate each major curving shape into light and dark pattern.

Learn the secrets to painting lifelike skies with these video lessons »


colored pencil drawing of trees

Study trees separately from the entire environment first. Trees have several different shapes, but they are all very recognizable. For example, the general shape of fir trees is a cone; the maple trees and oaks are umbrella-shaped. 

tree shapes

To begin sketching, draw the tree trunk first. This gives you a solid ground to work from, and you can “hang” everything else over it. A common mistake artists make is that the tree trunks and their brunches are too linear and don’t curve enough. It’s also vital to vary the thickness and length of each branch: they are always thicker in the beginning and thinner at the top.

 Read more about drawing realistic trees here.

Zero-point linear perspective

landscape drawing with zero-point linear perspective.

To begin sketching any landscape, determine the position of  your horizon line, as it divides the space between the land and the sky. Mountains and distant trees seat on top of the horizon line. Place that line as your first mark on paper. Now you know that everything that is above it belongs to the sky, and all other elements are drawn below the horizon line.

Perspective gives an illusion of three-dimensional space drawn on a flat surface. The drawing above shows the use of a zero-point perspective, where lines don’t seem to converge in a point somewhere in the distance on a horizon line. The tree that is closest to the viewer is the largest object with maximum detail, while the rest of the trees, grass and sky lose their definition being farther away.

Draw Better Landscapes With Perspective

perspective drawing guide

Learn how to draw scenes with lifelike space and dimension and make your landscape drawings come off the page.Get My FREE Guide »

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