Feeling invigorated by the change of season? What better way to channel that energy than to explore new ways to be creative. Think of it as a celebration of the season and a fun way to develop your artistic practice.

To give you a jump-start, we enlisted expertise from skilled drawers eager to share some of their best ideas of things to draw in the fall. Starting with these three drawing ideas will help you begin to think about the autumn, and your environment  in a new, exciting, and more inspired way.

Image credit: Skillshare student Sarah E.
Image credit: Skillshare student Sarah E.

Drawing Idea: Foraged Nature Study Drawing

“While spring and summer bring us the inspiration of beautiful blooms, fall gives us an opportunity to appreciate some of the more understated wonders of nature,” says Monica Basile, an artist and educator based in Iowa City, Iowa. “This season is rich with so many beautiful natural forms that are often unappreciated.” This is something to draw that helps hone your observational skills and invokes a sense of awe and appreciation of nature, all while improving your technique.   

Tools you’ll need:  

  • a sketchbook or paper
  • fine point pencil
  • fineliner pen
  • eraser
  • collection of autumn treasures

What to do

  1. Forage & Observe: Start by getting outdoors and foraging, which can be accomplished in an urban environment, a park, a backyard, or true wilderness. Basile says, “You may not have to go any farther than your own front door, or you can use this opportunity to enjoy some extended time in nature.” The key here is to shift your focus to the micro level. Take a look at what the trees have offered up for the season. Maybe it’s intricate seed pods, chunky acorns, delicate helicopter seeds, or crinkled fallen leaves. As you walk out in the crisp fall air notice if any of the shapes you see inspire you or intrigue you? Collect the things that you’re drawn to most.
  2. Carefully Examine: Once you’ve foraged for your little autumn treasures, take the time to really investigate each. “Ask yourself what shapes you see, and what the relationship is between its different parts,” says Basile. “Even if you’re looking at an acorn and you’ve seen millions of acorns before, try to approach it with utter curiosity; it should be as though it were the first time you’ve laid eyes on such a thing.”
  3. Rough Sketch: Using your pencil, lightly sketch rough lines that describe the general shape and gesture of your items. Try drawing true to size, larger than reality, or something in between.
  4. Add the Details: Now that you have an outline, start to use your pencil to add more detail to your sketched items. “It helps to have a very sharp pencil if you’re working with an item with intricate details,” notes Basile. “Trace the structures of your item with your eyes first, and then with your pencil. Try to look more at your item than at your paper. If a line you draw seems to not quite describe what you see, that’s what your eraser is for.” The objective here is not realism for the sake of realism, but to use the process of drawing to really understand and appreciate your subject. Don’t let yourself feel rushed.
  5. Inking, Texture, and Shading: If you’d like to advance your drawing, use a fineliner pen to trace over your pencil lines. From there, you can take one more opportunity to study your items by incorporating texture and shading with lines. Basile says, “This may call for varying your mark-making to include stippling or other techniques. Take one more look at the shadows and curves of your item and add in any shading that may also help describe its structure. This last step can really bring your drawing to life.”
Image by Skillshare student Diana B.
Image by Skillshare student Diana B.

Drawing Idea: Fall Foliage Landscape  

“When I walk home, I always walk through a tree avenue and I love to see how the leaves change within every day that passes during autumn. I think there is no better way to illustrate autumn than to draw a collection of trees using a wide range of autumn hues,” says Greta Lorenz, a self-taught artist based in Germany. This is something to draw whether you’re merely interested in dabbling in landscapes, or you’re a seasoned pro.

Tools you’ll need:

  • a sketchbook or paper
  • fine point pencil
  • eraser
  • fineliner pen
  • a range of red, orange, yellow, and brown colored pencils
  • template or a picture you took of the foliage

What to do

  1. Take a Photograph: Take a picture (or source one) that says “quintessential fall foliage.” Maybe it’s a tree-lined street, a city park, or a thick stretch of woods.
  2. Sketch: Using your photograph as a reference, start by lightly sketching the tree crowns, then move on to the trunks and the ground. 
  3. Add Detail: Next, go back in with your fineliner pen to trace the primary shapes. You can also add details here of leaves, curvature, and any other details or shading you want to incorporate into the drawing.  
  4. Infuse Color: “For this, I’d begin with a light yellow and build up the whole crown by adding layer by layer, and always add stronger colors until you end with a dark orange or red so you create some depths in the drawing. That will make it look realistic,” says Lorenz. She adds, “Allow the other parts of your drawing that aren’t the trees to create a big contrast. For example, if there’s a street, you can draw it quite dark so the trees will look even more bright and colorful.” Or if there’s a river, emphasize the greens, blues, and grays.
Image credit: Skillshare student Aleksandra M.
Image credit: Skillshare student Aleksandra M.

Drawing Idea: Simple Autumn Leaves

This drawing idea is somewhat similar to the foraged nature study, but it focuses specifically on leaves. “Fall colors are breathtakingly beautiful. For this exercise, we will be letting the leaves guide us as we play with color palettes, and create depth and variation,” says Basile.

Tools you’ll need:

  • a sketchbook or paper
  • fine point pencil
  • eraser
  • fineliner pen
  • a range of red, orange, yellow, and brown colored pencils
  • a collection of autumn leaves

What to do:

  1. Collect: Your first task is to collect a variety of autumn leaves. Think varied sizes, shapes, colors, and veins.
  2. Observe: “Once you have collected your leaves — or reference photos, if necessary — take time to study each one. Often, a leaf that seems at first glance to be yellow might actually contain a range of yellows, greens, browns, or oranges,” says Basile. “Really observe and name the colors you see. This project yields really fun results with leaves that contain some color variation.”
  3. Swatch: Using your colored pencils, do your best to find the variety of shades that most resemble each leaf you’ve collected. Play with pressure and blending multiple colors.
  4. Sketch: You have two choices here. First, you can draw a series of leaves on one page, or you can simply focus on one leaf for the entire page. Whatever you decide, begin by lightly sketching the general shape of the leaf, then go back in with your fineliner pen.
  5. Add Color: After the ink has dried, use the colored pencils you selected to infuse your sketch with color. Don’t forget about how the leaves might vary in shade. You can adjust the color by pressing lighter or harder, blending colors, or simply by swapping out for a slightly darker or lighter shade. 

Still looking for stuff to draw? Check out these ideas of things to draw for more ways to channel your energy and improve your technique.