How to paint a pine tree in acrylic

Painting Trees With A Fan Brush

by Tracie

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How To Paint Silhouette Trees With A Fan Brush (With Video)

Hello artist friends! I feel inspired to write this post because a fan brush is such a handy tool if you would like to paint pine trees in you acrylic paintings!

This post specifically demonstrates how to paint silhouette trees.

You can also grab your flat or bright brush to paint these kinds of trees. But actually, I sometimes like to grab the fan brush because it gives a different unique effect!

There’s so many different kinds of paintings you can do with tree silhouettes! You can paint a sunset sky first and then do silhouette trees. Then add some water reflecting underneath.

You can also paint a galaxy sky and then paint the trees in front of the galaxy sky! Or…I actually like the simplicity of the pure black trees against a white canvas.

Also a bonus – If you are attempting to paint my American Flag Sky painting soon or have painted it but struggled with the trees, I hope this mini demo will help!

I recommend that you practice this technique on several sheets of paper first. It takes a bit to “calibrate” with the brush and get the hang of it. But when you figure out the technique, it’s really quite addicting!

Are you looking for how to paint a green tree with snow on it?

See my post about how to paint snowy trees three ways, one in which uses this fan brush technique!  

Learn my techniques for painting Christmas Trees

Now Let’s Paint Those Happy Trees!

This post contains a few affiliate links. 

What You’ll Need
    • Fan Brush 
    • Tiny Detail Brush (Any round brush labeled #0 or smaller -I’m using the “0” in this set.
    • Practice Paper or Canvas Paper.
    • Black Paint, preferably a thin paint. I’m actually using Apple Barrel black for the demonstration pictures and it was not thinned out with water. In the video, I used BASICS “Mars Black” that was thinned with a bit of water. It’s hard to do this technique if your black is too thick. 




Picture Steps & Instructions

1. Use A Round Brush to Draw A Trunk

Using a very tiny round brush, paint a vertical line to represent the trunk of the tree.

I recommend watering down the black just a bit to help the flow. I am using Apple Barrel Black craft paint for this demo so it didn’t need to be watered down.  


2. Load Your Fan Brush

When I load my fan brush, the bristles tend to clump together.

Try stroking the brush on the palette a bit to get the fan bristles to spread like a fan! 


3. Stamp the tips from top to bottom

Start at the top of that vertical line.

Stamp just lightly to create a thin set of branches.

To do this, I only used the middle area of the fan brush and not the left and right sides.

Also, I am stamping just the tip of the bristles and not all the bristles. 


4. Work your way down in zig-zag motion forming the shape of a pine tree.

As you work your way down, keep stamping the brush left and right in a zig-zag motion.

Apply more pressure to the brush to make these branches thicker, heavier and wider forming the shape of a pine tree.

5. Keep working your way down, widening the shape. 

As you keep “zig-zagging” your way down, make your tree form a wider shape on the bottom.

I leave a space for the trunk on the bottom too. 


6. Vary the heights and shape of the trees.

If you’re painting a treeline silhouette, try varying the heights of the trees for a more natural look.

Also, you can vary the shape (thin and thick) and the amount of white space showing. 


7. Use the tiny round to add more details on the top

If you “goofed” on the first step and couldn’t get the branches to be thin enough, try using a tiny detail brush to add the smaller branches on the top of the tree. 

8. Practice Practice Practice!

This technique is tricky at first but I mentioned earlier that you’ll need to practice it a bit with that fan brush.

To paint the bottom line, I used a larger round brush. 


And that’s it! Keep practicing and you’ll be an expert at painting those “Happy Silhouette Trees”!


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See Also:How To Paint Mountains

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How to Paint Pine Trees In 5 Easy Steps (Using 5 Different Brushes) [2022 Update]

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Table of Contents

  • Easily Paint A Whole Pine Forest When You Find The Perfect Paintbrush
  • Quick Guide To Painting A Pine Tree
    • To paint a pine tree:
    • Extra Tips:
  • Five Brushes You Can Use To Paint Amazing Pine Trees
    • Angle Brush
    • Round Brush
    • Filbert
    • Flat Brush
    • Fan Brush
  • How To Paint Pine Trees Step-by-Step!
    • Painting Materials:
    • Directions:
  • How To Paint Pine Tree Branches
  • How To Paint Pine Trees In The Distance
  • Painting Pine Trees Is Super Easy When You Use The Most Comfortable Brush For You (Final Thoughts)
  • Which Brush Is Your Favorite To Paint Pines?
    • More Articles To Help With Painting Pine Trees

Easily Paint A Whole Pine Forest When You Find The Perfect Paintbrush

In just 5 easy steps, you’ll learn how to paint pine trees like a pro! Not only that, but you’ll also know exactly which type of paintbrush is going to give you the kind of pine tree you’re looking for.

In fact, more often than not, you’ll be told to use a fan brush and, for some, that works out just fine. If you aren’t one of those people, don’t despair, my friend! I’m here to tell you that there is more than one brush you can use to paint pine trees.

From wooded landscapes to handmade holiday cards, knowing how to easily paint amazing pine trees is a very versatile skill to learn. So let’s get down to it!

Quick Guide To Painting A Pine Tree

We’ll go more in-depth about how to paint pine trees in just a minute but, first, let’s take a quick look at the steps.

To paint a pine tree:

  1. Paint the trunk
  2. Load your brush with green paint
  3. Lightly tap your chosen paintbrush just above the top of the pine tree trunk
  4. Tap your way down the trunk in a zig-zag pattern, moving further out from the trunk as you paint downward
  5. Go back in and add more taps, here and there, to break things up so your pine tree doesn’t look too structured (messy and misshapen is your bestie!)

Extra Tips:

  • Don’t get too fussy about making your pine trees look perfectly symmetrical. Mother Nature knows what she’s doing and perfectly imperfect is so in!
  • In nature, trees are rarely tightly structured
  • Trunks can have lots of knots, broken branches, curves, and bends
  • Branches can be full on one side and sparse on the other and they can also be really short in places and long in others (some may even have branches that hang in a more up and down position than others)
  • Add a bit of your green paint to yellow and mix with a bit of white to create a highlight color
  • To add highlights, follow the same steps as above but use less paint so you don’t cover up all of the darker parts of the pine tree
  • If you’re painting a landscape with a forest of pines, make sure to use a lighter color for your background trees and continue to use darker/more vibrant green paint as you work toward the foreground of the painting (this will help to create depth)

Five Brushes You Can Use To Paint Amazing Pine Trees

If you happen to be painting along with a YouTube tutorial where the instructor is using a fan brush to paint a forest of pine trees but you don’t have one (or don’t like using them), no worries!

Let’s look at some of the paintbrushes you can use to paint pines and see the different effects you can make depending on the brush you choose to paint with.

Angle Brush

This is my favorite brush to use to paint pine trees because I’m really comfortable with an angle brush and I love the slightly structured look of the branches. We’re talkin’ just a tiny bit structured.

Having some structure is absolutely fine but you don’t want it so symmetrical that you can see an obvious pattern. When learning how to paint pine trees, it’s important to walk that fine line between “wow, that looks like one of those fake trees from the dollar store” to “uhhhhh, that’s a lovely blob of paint with spikey bits”.

Living in a place where I see pine trees all of the time, the shape I get when using an angle brush is what I’m used to seeing in nature.

Round Brush

I find the round brush to be a bit more challenging for me but way easier than using a fan brush, in my opinion. I think if you’re used to using round brushes, you’ll probably find this to be the easiest for you. I do like the lacy quality of this pine tree, though.


This is such a fun and quirky looking tree! Because the Filbert has a rounded head, you can really play with it and experiment to get different shapes. I like how this pine tree is like a mix of the angle brush and the round brush pine trees.

Flat Brush

This is my second favorite brush to paint pine trees, which makes sense since this is basically an angle brush before the bristles were cut.

Pine trees, in nature, have defined edges and lots of pokey bits which makes the flat brush perfect for painting pine trees.

Fan Brush

Oy vey… As you can see, I really struggled to make the fan brush do what I wanted it to and, full disclosure, I’ve been doing this for years!

For this reason, this is my least favorite brush to use to paint pine trees. I find the branches are too wispy for my liking and I had a hard time figuring out how to load the paint on the brush without having the bristles clump together. I, also, couldn’t get the hang of holding the brush so that the branches were more natural looking.

If you are an expert at the fan brush, kudos to you, friend! I have much to learn when it comes to using this particular brush.

How To Paint Pine Trees Step-by-Step!

Now, let’s get to practicing using the five step quick guide, from above, and all five of the different brushes!

If you don’t have all five of the brushes, just work with what you have.

Painting Materials:

  • Canvas, paper, etc.
  • Paint (I used Burnt Umber (dark brown) and Hooker’s Green (dark green) but you can use any color of paint you want. Go wild!)
  • Paintbrushes (you can do this with just one of the brushes listed or all of them):
    • Angle brush
    • Round brush
    • Filbert
    • Flat brush
    • Fan brush
  • Jar of clean water
  • A rag or paper towel
  • A paint palette (or paper plate)
  • Highlight Paint Colors (optional):
    • Cad Yellow Medium (sunny yellow)
    • Titanium White


  • Go ahead and paint as many vertical lines as you want. Don’t bother trying to paint them in a straight line. It’s really not necessary since most tree trunks in nature aren’t completely straight
  • Load your paintbrush with a bit of dark green paint. Don’t pick up a big glob of it! It’ll be too much and you’ll be fighting for control
  • Starting just a bit above your vertical line, lightly tap your paintbrush. For every brush, but the round, use the side of your brush and just the tip of the bristles on the top corner of the brush
  • Tap your way down the vertical line/tree trunk, at a diagonal, and tap further out from your trunk as you make your way to the bottom
  • When you reach the point where you think you’d like to stop, take a look at your pine tree and see if there is anything that needs fixing. You may have to go back in and tap a bit more here and there to make the diagonal tapping line less obvious
  • Next mix up your highlight color and follow the same instructions as above but use less paint and don’t use too much! You want to still be able to see the dark green of the pine tree here and there
  • Repeat the above steps with each brush and as many times as you like. With practice, you’ll quickly figure out which paintbrush is the easiest to use for you
The “toe” of your brush is what you’ll use to tap the paint to create a pine tree shape

How To Paint Pine Tree Branches

Learning how to paint pine trees up close and detailed isn’t as difficult as you might think. It all comes down to seven steps.

The five steps to painting a pine tree branch are:

  1. Paint the branch – You can be as detailed or painterly as you want but most of the branch will be covered up so keep that in mind.
  2. Paint the needles – Use a small round brush and dark green paint to make the pine needles with a light flicking motion in slightly different directions (don’t go too crazy with this part or your pine branch will look….frazzled)
  3. Make it look natural – This is just a matter of letting some of the needles cross over one another (Mother Nature doesn’t do symmetry!)
  4. Mix a highlight color – Mix your dark green with a bit of yellow and white to create a highlight color
  5. Add highlights – Use the same method as above but don’t cover up all of the dark green or you’ll lose the depth

That’s really all there is to it! If you want to dive deeper, make sure to check out my pine branch and ornament holiday card article. There, you’ll find the different steps with photos to guide you.

Extra Tip: The more layers of paint you add, and the more shades and tints you add to each layer, the more detailed your branch will look.

How To Paint Pine Trees In The Distance

Painting distant pine trees couldn’t be easier! They’re basically just impressionist pine trees made with dabs of paint along the horizon line of your landscape.

However, if you want to paint pine trees that are a bit more detailed but still look like they’re in the distance, you’ll want to make them smaller/thinner and use a paint color that is the same as the color you use for the foreground trees but lightened up and dulled down.

You want your distant trees to look like they’re slightly out of focus so they won’t have as much detail as the pine trees in the foreground. They’ll, also, have softer edges.

Extra Tip: Look at something with squinted eyes and that will give you an idea of the look you’re going for.

For a bit of practice, take a look at my painting raindrops article where you’ll find a rainy forest landscape YouTube tutorial that’s both quick and easy. It will also teach you how to paint fog and a rainy sky.

Painting Pine Trees Is Super Easy When You Use The Most Comfortable Brush For You (Final Thoughts)

Learning how to paint pine trees may seem like a recipe for disaster, especially if you’ve tried to paint them in the past using a fan brush. But, now you know, there is more than one brush to get the job done.

To get you started, here’s a link to a whole bunch of free pine tree images you can use to help you to learn how to paint pine trees. The goal is to try different brushes over and over so you can figure out which brush is going to get you the results you’re looking for.

Patience, young grasshopper, and practice, practice, practice!

Which Brush Is Your Favorite To Paint Pines?

More Articles To Help With Painting Pine Trees

  • Make the perfect shade of green paint
  • Practice by painting Christmas trees
  • More websites where you can find free images of pine trees

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How to Draw Grass, Bush and Tree

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Today we have another article from the "how to draw a tree" series. In these articles, I try to persuade you, dear readers, to be serious about drawing trees, not to succumb to the temptation to simplify everything and reduce it to the image of conventional signs. The leading principles in the approach to drawing trees should be - drawing FROM NATURE, and from simple to complex. That is: we will not try to draw a century-old oak tree in five minutes with a swoop of imagination.

Among other tips regarding the approach to mastering the topic “tree”, I advocate the following: first learn to draw thick, bushy grasses, and then you can gradually move on to trees. After all, what is "grass", "bush" and "tree"? Comrades, these are the life forms of plants. They are similar in many ways, but the bushes and trees are larger and lignified. Formally, the structure of grasses, bushes and trees is very similar.

So, gradually approaching the theme of "tree", today we are learning to draw bushes. First, on the example of branched and bushy grass.

How to draw grass (bush) -lesson 1

And the grass will look like this:

Who knows its name - raise your hand.

Okay, I won't bore you, and that's…. Lettuce!

- Salad??? - you ask.

- Well, in general, a wild weedy relative of that tender greenery that adorns our beds and tables. I have great respect for cultivated vegetables, but in my heart I love weeds more for their savagery and freethinking. And I always advocate drawing weeds.

Let's draw wild lettuce step by step!

Main stem and largest side branches first.

After making sure that the composition is balanced, I turn to the details.

This is where the ambush awaits me: there are a lot of branches, they grow in all directions, and even they intersect - wilds! But since I took up the tug, then I hope that the eyes are afraid - the hands are doing it.

Here I will do this: I will mentally move along each large branch, honestly marking all the lateral processes. To be honest, not just randomly poke a lot of arbitrary small branches, but from life I draw exactly what I see.

So I figured out the branches.

Now we need to draw what is on the branches. Since we have a distant sight - to learn how to draw a bush and a tree, I will slightly simplify the shape of the inflorescences. But I will draw again from nature, I will not just replace the “leaf” with signs.

Well, look - such a normal bush has drawn, almost a tree:

Working on this kind of nature, your students will get a good hand.

And the more, the better.

I, too, although I consider myself an extra-class artist, am not lazy, so now we will draw the second picture. This time I took the branches for drawing from a real bush. It's just a bunch of fruit.

And the bush itself is called "rowanberry".

Draw a bush (tree) - lesson 2

Now we will draw it in stages.

Branches are drawn - looks quite like a bush.

So they drew a quite convincing bush.

It is, of course, educational. Just a training one, we are not going to insert it into a realistic composition. But, when it comes to large-scale bushes - trees, this experience will come in handy and will help us a lot.

Marina Novikova told you how to draw grass, a bush or a tree.

Read more:

How to draw a flower

How to draw a plant


Tags: how to draw a bush, how to draw plants, drawing lessons poetapno


Marina Novikova

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About the authors


Good afternoon. You are welcomed by the team of authors of the blog - Marina Novikova and Evgeny Novikov.

How to draw leaves step by step

Watercolor lessons They are the first sign that spring has come; they shelter us from the sun and rain, help us determine the strength of the wind, and generally bring beauty to this world.

Given all of the above, we can say that the leaves are so diverse in themselves, and we have to choose different types when drawing.

Here are some ideas to help you choose your leaf type.

I chose a maple leaf and drew it from all possible angles. If you feel like getting creative, you can draw your favorite leaf and follow the instructions.

When I need a particular type of leaf in a drawing, I try to find the same pattern in nature. If not, you can search for references in books or the Internet to find the information you need.


First sheet.

This leaflet will be quite detailed. The lines of the veins are drawn neatly, in double lines. Most of the drawing will be concentrated between these veins, so they need to be highlighted.

Second sheet.

It will be simplified, in place of the veins - simple gouache lines.

Third sheet.

We will make this leaf the easiest to draw. You will need this type if your drawing has a lot of leaves and you don't want to detail each one. They will increase the contrast between the main subject and the background.


First sheet.

I deliberately left out part of the leaf to show that I first painted the leaf with a light green color. In the next step, I wetted those areas between the veins that I was going to paint over to add depth. At the second stage, do not paint over the leaf completely and do not bring the fill to the veins themselves - because of the pale green fragments in combination with the veins, the leaf looks more realistic.

Second sheet.

The entire sheet is painted unevenly and in one go. When the drawing was dry, I drew thin lines of veins with white gouache. You can also use a pen or ink.

Third sheet.

Just paint over it without detailing. On those leaves that are the background, it is better not to make many accents.


Fourth sheet.

Outwardly, it may not look different from the leaves of the first row, but the difference will be obvious when we paint it with a special style.

Fifth sheet.

You may notice that this sheet is damaged. Sometimes you may need this effect: for example, if an insect is sitting on a leaf or a forest animal has chewed it.

Sixth sheet.

Roll leaf. You can go outside yourself and look for swirling leaves to create sketches. This is great for developing skills.


Fourth sheet.

Not the most standard way of painting. You can use it if you need to focus on certain leaves.

Fifth sheet.

When painting over damaged paper, add brown around holes and chewed edges. You can add simple spots in brown.

Sixth sheet.

First, I applied a layer of brown eyeshadow. Then - deep darkening in those places where the edges of the sheet are twisted, and also in the center. I even added some ink lines to enhance the shadows.


Seventh leaf.

Again, this leaf is similar to the regular ones, but it will have a sun glare effect in color.

Eighth sheet.

This sheet is falling or blown off by the wind.

Ninth sheet.

I'll paint over our last example as if it is solemnly saying goodbye to the greatness of autumn.


Seventh sheet.

Paint over the sheet in one layer.

Learn more