In this short step-by-step tutorial you’ll learn how to draw a forest from start to finish, including the line art, colouring and shading.

Step 1: Define Forest Boundaries

When you start drawing your forests, it is important to know the size and shape that you want. Start by drawing a very rough shape to represent the forest boundaries. His will be a guide for you when you start drawing the trees.

Step 2: Drawing the First Trees

Now that you have settled on a rough share that you want for your forests it is time to start drawing the first trees. You’ll want to start with the trees on the viewer facing side of the forests. Trees that are further away from the viewer will be obscured by others, but the ones in the front will be fully visible.

Step 3: Drawing the Forest Edge

With the front row of trees done it is now time to finish the forest’s edge. Continue drawing the rest of the trees and make sure they are overlapping; the trees in the back are obscured by the trees in front of them.

Step 4: Adding Details Around the Edges

With just these outlines the forest may look quite dull and uninteresting. Add some additional treetops around the edges of the forest to give it some shape and texture.

Step 5: Filling in the Details

When you’re done with the details around the edges it is a good time to also add some details in the remaining empty spaces. Try adding some treetops and maybe add an opening in the forests as well.

Step 6: Scattered Trees

With the main body of the forest now done it is time to draw some trees scattered around the area. This represents the forest slowly getting sparser.

Step 7: Add Main Color

The line art for the forest is now done! Time to get started with adding color. The first thing that we need to do is settle on a color for the forest. Which color works best depends a lot on what other colors you use in your map, so play around and see what looks best!

Step 8: Hard Shadows

When you have chosen your main color for the forests you can start drawing the shadows. The shadows should be on the opposite side of the light source. I have the light source coming from the top left corner. Pick a darker shade of green and draw the shadows on the bottom right side of the trees.

Step 9: Soft Shadows

With the hard shows in place it is now time to add some soft shadows. This allows you to define the shape of the forest even more. Again, we’ll draw on the bottom right side of the forest but we’ll use a large soft brush for this to create a smooth effect.

Step 10: Highlights

In this step we’ll add the highlights. We’ll do this the same way that we did with the hard shadows, except we’ll be drawing with a lighter shade of green and we’ll color the top left side of the trees.

Step 11: Cast Shadows

Finally it is time to bring the forests together with the terrain. Take a light grey color and draw the shadows around the bottom right edges of the forest.


If you want to learn more about how I draw my maps, visit my Skillshare page, where I have several classes dedicated to drawing fantasy maps!