How to Draw Trees: Illustrating a Fantasy Nature Scene | Winged Canvas Art | Skillshare

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How to Draw Trees: Illustrating a Fantasy Nature Scene

teacher avatar Winged Canvas Art, Classes for Art Nerds

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (1h 9m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Sketching the Base of the Terrarium

    • 3. Sketching the Objects in the Terrarium

    • 4. Colouring the Water in the Terrarium

    • 5. Colouring the Tree in the Terrarium

    • 6. Colouring Details and Adding a Background

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About This Class

Explore nature drawing in this fun terrarium drawing lesson. In this class, you’ll be guided through designing different elements in a terrarium, while focusing on the key feature: a bonsai tree! This isn’t just any regular nature drawing course, but one where you can experiment and explore the technique behind different elements so that you can apply them to future projects!

By the end of this course, you will know how to:

  • Draw a bonsai tree
  • Create water and transparency
  • Add colours and shading to give your drawing dimension
  • Create a visually appealing composition
  • Draw different elements from nature
  • Create the illusion of glass


  • My demo is drawn digitally using Medibang Paint Pro, but you may use any medium
  • If you're working traditionally, I recommend pencil, fineliner and coloured pencils
  • To learn how to use digital techniques, see our lesson: Intro to Digital Art in MediBang 


[Sketching the fantasy nature scene]


[Colouring the fantasy terrarium]

About the Instructor:

Felicia Bielby is a concept artist and art instructor. She specializes in 3D modelling and game development with a passion for the world of magic and fantasy! 

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Winged Canvas Art

Classes for Art Nerds


We are an online visual arts studio based in Ontario, Canada, and we represent a roster of professional illustrators, designers, and animators with a passion for teaching. We host virtual art parties, online events and custom workshops for schools across North America. We also design art resources‍ for classrooms and provide free art tutorials on our YouTube channel, helping self starters, teachers and homeschoolers access quality visual arts education from home. 

At Skillshare, we're bringing you special programs in illustration, character design, figure drawing, digital art and cartooning -- designed exclusively from our roster of talented artists! 

About our Instructors:

Fei Lu is a figurative artist specia... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Nature has inspired countless famous artists throughout history, since there are so many parts of it that are beautiful. In this course, we're going to illustrate a miniature fantasy nature scene by designing a term barium with a bonsai tree. In the next series of lessons, you'll learn about composition, design and how to draw the base of your terrorism, as well as the bonsai tree with coloring and shading techniques. By the end of this class, you'll feel confident in drawing nature in a semi realistic style, perfect for cartoon and animate backgrounds. You're invited to follow along with me step-by-step. If you're a beginner, otherwise, feel free to add your own unique details to the plants in objects. So the terrorism and freestyle, I'll be drawing digitally, but you can draw in the medium of your choice. I'd love to see what you create at the end. So please share your artwork with our community. Have fun in class. 2. Sketching the Base of the Terrarium: Today we will be creating a fantasy terrorism. Terrorism can be a little bit of a tongue twister. But if you've never heard of what a terrain barium is, it's typically a glass container or a jar that has plants and succulents inside. So they have a interesting arrangement with flowers and mushrooms or moss and plants. Hours will be adding some fantasy elements to it. You can have some glowing things in there, some magical plants, or maybe some small fantasy characters in there. So let's take a look at some examples. So here is a regular terrorism that you would see. So see how it's in a glass bowl or a jar. And there's some little moss and plants in there. This one has a little acorn that looks like a little house, maybe for a small fairy or a troll here. And here's another example. So this is another glass jar or a container, and it has some greenery in there. So you can have yours as a bowl or a jar. Maybe. This one's in a nice jar and it's also tilted to the side. So you can have yours upside-down, right-side up. Doesn't matter where you have it. You can even have it closed with a lid like this one. This one has some dirt and some rocks, some little mushrooms here, and some plants with leaves coming down here. Doesn't have to be the exact same size as the actual plants. Maybe you have a huge forest living in your jar, can be any sort of magical plant. Here's a great illustration version of a terrorism. So this is a jar with a nice little mushroom creature here. It looks very happy to be living in this little environment. But you can have a creature that's based off of a plant as well. This is a very simple eyes version of this. So we have our jars. So this one is almost like a potion bottle. It has a little cork in there. This one has a hole on the outside of it. Here. It is. Start on that. I will make my container almost like a bowl shape. I have an idea of what I want to have in it too. I'm going to have a sort of a tree in there, but it's going to be very swirly, almost like a magical plant. I'm going to have some glowing things on mine and maybe some magical sort of mushrooms. But yeah, let's get started on our sketch here. I'm just going to start with my pencil. So if you have a pencil with your piece of paper, that's a great place to start out with. I'm going to have my jar, sort of like an open bowl. So it doesn't need to be closed with a lid. It can be completely open. But makes sure that it is a glass material since we want to be able to see our plants inside of it. If it's just in solid container, we won't be able to see anything. And all of our plants will be hidden. I'm just starting out with a big oval. This will be the opening of my bowl here. Big round oval. And I'm going to have mine. I'm down. I'm starting to make the round part of my goal. My goal is not exactly a circular shape, it is round, but I'm making it sort of wide, flat. No tall balls here. And I'm going to have lots of greenery. You can have water in your container as well. It's a little pond with a tree next to it. It's a small little natural world right inside of a jar or container. This could be some sort of decoration that you have on your desk, your bedroom. Think about the kinds of plants that you'd like to have, and what kind of creatures you'd like to live in your little jar. You could have any sort of magical creature as a pet. If think about what would that be an include it in your container. I'm also going to have some little feet on the ends of my container just so it's able to stand up all nicely. Doesn't rock back and forth. They're just some little stands. So my bowl doesn't roll down off of my desk. Here I have my bowl shape. And I'm also going to draw another long oval in the middle of my bowl. And this is where I'm going to have some water. So very similar oval to the top where I have my opening. This will be the patch of water. Then I'm going to have and I'm going to have some land coming up from the water is going to be almost like a pond. Adl have some lily pads and my pond. Think about the kind of greenery you'd like in there. Maybe you want to have some flowers instead of trees or bushes. You could just have flowers and your art doesn't have to be any sort of trees. Can be any sort of plant. Maybe they're cacti to have a cactus in there. I'm going to draw some small circles here. And these are going to be some rocks right on the bottom of the water floor. Usually when you go to the beach or something, he stepped right into the water. You feel the rocks right on your feet? That's kind of what I want to have. Some rocks at the bottom of this little pond. I'm just making some oval, some small circles and putting them around the shape of my jar. Following that shape there. And I'm going to go to the other side as well. If you have some little pebbles in your jar as well, or some boulders, really big rocks. Or maybe you have a really, really big area in your container with some mountains. Doesn't have to be really small, sort of swamp area. You can make mountains in there. Think about your fantasy area and what you would have in this little container. I'm going to have my rocks all the way up to around here. And then I'll stop and start with another element. Here, my rocks. And I might want to have lily pads up on this top of my water here. So this is this oval that I made here is going to be the top of my water, right in the middle here. So now I can place some things on top of my water. This can be a little lily pad. I'm just making a V-shape. And connecting from each edge to the other as a circle. Sort of makes that Lilypad shape. Again another fee. And attaching those corners together. Here a couple lily pads or Mike glowing parts of my drawing today, I'm not going to start drawing them in my sketch since I know that's more of a coloring thing. I want to have some glowing little balls or orbs. I'll leave that when I start coloring. 3. Sketching the Objects in the Terrarium: And now I'm going to start adding that patch of ground here. Coming right up to those lily pads, making a wobbly sort of shape here. And I can probably see it underneath the water. I'm gonna do a light line. Connects those lines together. So this is the surface of my ground here and this part is right below my water. My patch of ground, large squiggle. This is where I'm going to have some grass, maybe some dirt. Right now. I'm just erasing those lines that I drew right over top. Since I won't be able to see that jar. And behind my patch, just going to erase that. I think I want to have a tree here. I'm sort of large tree. I'm going to start at my trunk. Come upward here. I have a really great tree reference beside me. Beautiful cold, a bonsai tree. As this really interesting curvy shape to its trunk. I think that reminds me of a fantasy plant. Almost looks like it couldn't be real. A lot of the trees I see around my town or my house all have these straight branches and trunks. This one just so different. Almost as if it's out of this world. This is my really, really Herbie trunk here. In this line that's going right through my trunk. I'm not going to get rid of that because this part is actually going to be in front. So inside of my jar here is my trunk, and this line is part of the container. But this line is always going to stay here. Bring this branch a little higher. And I'm going to curve this one to the left side. Very curvy lines today. This is going to be one of the branches that come down. I think this is going to be the last branch I'll make here on this one. Super interesting trunk we have here. So if you're thinking about making some fantasy plants, maybe not a tree like mine, but maybe some bushes, or just something really interesting. Think about the way your lines are moving. So if you don't normally see curvy lines on a, on a plant or a tree. I could do that. That will make your art looks super interesting. Almost as if it's an alien plant. Or maybe you have some interesting shapes on there. Not as organic as a regular tree. Make it super interesting. I'm going to add some more wavy lines at the top here for my branches. Maybe have some come up a little. This is where I'll have some greenery or flowers here. I want to have this pushed up just a little more. Going to erase this part, redo it connects into this area. I'm going to have some leaves on this part. Not sure exactly how I'd like my shape to be. Kinda adding those little squiggles, doing a little base before I continue coloring yet. Sort of figuring out like it. No, definitely have some Megan these branches down here. You didn't have some pushed right up against that jar. Like it almost doesn't fit. Or maybe I'll have it actually coming outside of my jar. Maybe that will look interesting. Branch can be outside. You can have some elements coming outside of your jar. Maybe they're lying right beside it. Did he have some leaves that fell outside of your germ? You just wanna do a couple down there. It's going to lower the size of my drawing here. It's a little too big. I can see it a bit better. So inside here I have some leaves coming right over top of the jar, right out of the lip or that edge. I think this will look a little interesting having some overlapping features. I'm not, everything is stuck in the jar. I have this come out a little bit further. This one a little further over here. Continuing to build up those little squiggles and curves I have on my tree. I'm doing some radar top of my branches that I made there. Maybe I have some tree details here, but just some lines that are following the shape. I'll make a circle in the middle. A little knot in the wood. Sometimes you see little circle ie patterns. In some planks of wood. Trees. Do little tiny circles and move around with those lines. Countries don't even have those. Depends on the type you're drawing. You don't have to follow that exact pattern. I'm going to have some grass it below my tree here. Maybe coming upwards, making those little grass patterns. I think I wanted to add some mushrooms in here to see if I can squeeze a few. These ones are gonna be really interesting ones. This is gonna be part of my little fantasy element. We'd have them really, really long. Usually the mushrooms I see are very short and stubby. Ones are gonna be really skinny. I'm just going to erase that little part of my jar there so I can see what I'm doing and I'll bring it back. I'll put some little dots on my mushroom to have another one right beside it. I mean the opposite way now. A bean shape as that mushroom cap. There's the opening little mushroom there. So they're all different sizes. And they're moving in different directions, unique from one another. And get a vote. If I wanted to add some on this side too, I think I will. Maybe just a couple. I'll have three on my left side and I'll have to on my right. So there's my really ran the tree here. At Grand bonsai tree. I might go straight to coloring. But if you choose to use a pen or a marker to start lining your work before you color. This would be a good time to do it right after you finish your sketch and add some very light circles in the background. These will be some rocks are very light. I can't really see them through their erase part of my jar that went onto my mushrooms here. Apart, you won't be able to see since I'll cover it, just erasing it. If you're making any fantasy plants and you start coloring, trying to think of some really crazy colors for the leaves. So instead of using green, try and use maybe a blue or a pink, something that you wouldn't normally see on plants, or some sort of leaves. And even try and think about those warm and cool colors, to think about those crazy colors to add to those. Here's my sketch here. And let's start coloring. 4. Colouring the Water in the Terrarium: Let's start coloring. If you're coloring with pencil crayons, you can either press hard once you get to the bottom and just press the late. When you color the top. You can either use a different pencil crayons too. Maybe you have a darker blue and a lighter blue pencil crayon, and you don't even have to worry about drawing very harsh or soft. I'm just looking at this bottom here. I want it to be sort of a teal color for this water. Almost like a swamp sort of thing. Probably wouldn't want to drink the water from this. Water should not be a teal color. I wanted to have some sort of dark bluey green. And I'm just making my way around to the back of my jar here. Now you can see how my water kind of sits in my jar. Where the line is, where it's ending there. Just a little bit of water. I'll erase a little part here and that's where my brown is going to be. I'm going to start thinking about where I want those bright colors on my water. If you do have water in yours as well, try and make the top of the water a lighter color than the bottom. Light is always going to hit the top of the water first before it reaches all the way down. So the top is going to be a lighter color. If you're doing blue, will be a lighter blue. Adding some light blues. The top here, and some darker teal down at the bottom where my rocks are sitting. But since this is a fantasy terrorism, you can even have your water any color that you'd like. Doesn't have to be a blue. You can go super crazy with it. And then going to have some little highlights on the top of the water. By doing this, I'm either going to leave out some parts and erase some lines. Or you could take a white pencil crayon to do this. Just go lightly over there, white area. This will make some nice little highlights on the water. The sun's really getting down on it. I'm going to add some white to the edge. My bowl here. Maybe your terrorism isn't in a nice and friendly area. Maybe years this kind of spooky. You don't have a lot of light going on. Heavier. So as a spooky Tourism, maybe some creepy plants. All depends on the emotion that you're trying to make on yours. I want mine to be nice and happy. I'm using nice bright colors. I know that I'm going to have a nice Great Sun. Just going to blend it out a little bit by getting some blue colors and going right over top of that white. And now maybe I will go ahead and start with my rocks here. Now that I have my water, kind of how I want it to look. Let's start. My rocks. Can give it what kind of color I want my rocks to be. Here. I want to have them gray, maybe a little hint of brown color and see a little light. Yeah, I think I'll have my rocks brown color. And just coloring in those circles and ovals that I made. It says one base color for now. And then I'll go in with other lights and dark browns. Make them different from one another. For now, just going with one color. And remember you don't have to follow your sketch completely. If you want to make changes to it. You always can. Your sketch is not permanent. If just a nice idea to have. As you continue with your drawing. Maybe I'll have some lighter colors in the frontier. Maybe some darker colors as well. I can add some yellow into my rocks to doesn't have to be all the same color. If you have multi-colored rocks in there. It can be rainbow plants, Brainbow rocks. I have some green rocks hitting the back here. Along with my gray and my brown ones. Tons of different colors for my pebbles. Since they're little circle, there are circular shapes here. Still look like rocks. Even though they're all kind of different. Make them a little darker since it's at the bottom of my glass. You won't really be able to see them. But just as a little hint here, it's thinking about where I want more blues to be on here. Water can be really tricky. I just keep adding light blues and dark blues. Lots of highlights. Think I'm happy with how this looks. 5. Colouring the Tree in the Terrarium: Okay, my next step here, I think I'm going to do my patch of land. This will be a dark green color. Maybe I'll add some dirt in there as well. It's going to outline where I want it. Following my sketch. If I want to change up the shape I can Any underneath my water here. Actually, I'll do the bottom of my land. There is a bottom portion of this. We'll do that first. I can't quite see it with my sketch there, so I'm just kind of thinking up my lines. Doesn't have to be completely perfect. As my shape. I can do anything. They're thinking about how I want this. It is going to be in the water. I'm trying to make sure that it looks like it's actually in that blue area there. And add some blue to my end of my rock. They can actually be the same color. If I really want to do that. I'll just color over it with that exact watery color. This will make it look like it's really underwater. And now I can add some lighter greens to my patch of land. Some simple light green. This is only two colors here. That's fine. Dark green in my light. And to get that light green kind of blending in there. Well, you have to do with a pencil crayon is just press very lightly and continue to build up that color. If you keep drawing and keep coloring over it so many times, it will blend it all very nicely with the color right underneath. I'm going to leave it like that for now and I will come back to it later. It's going to start with my tree. For my bonsai tree, I'm going to make the leaves or maybe even if their flowers, I'm going to make it a ink color today. Not a green like you would normally see. This is going to be a really crazy tree. I'm going to add some pink colors to it. Super excited to get to that stage. Making my branch right now one solid color. And then I'll go back in or any sort of details that I want. Aging at the shape of it here. I'm going to zoom in so I can see it a little better. And get those well edges here. Watching those really curvy branches, wavy lines I made sort of sticking to them. All in that sketch. I made this top branch levels off into two. And since then I'm going to try and be careful. This one, this one here as well. I got one more branch here. Quickly get this brown part down. I can get to those nice pink colors. My crazy branches here. And I'm going to add my pink that I wanted to think of what kind of pink? Yes, it's a good base for now. We'll use this really, really bright pink. Then I can go back in after. Now add some lighter colors. I like the bright pink in that teal color together. Really interesting. I like that color combination that I made. Feel free to get inspiration from what I'm doing as well. If you need some ideas. Great to have all different kinds of plants. Not just stick to one super cool color in school part here. We can go to this big part here. I want to have a lot of bumps on my tree here. Some little thick. Definitely trying to get a lot of those. So it looks like really, really compact with lots of flowers or leaves that I have here. Not sure if I want to make them flowers or leaves. It could be either or. I'm going to have it behind this branch here. Is still continuing behind. Not all in the front. In this big one here. I didn't fully finish my sketch here. So that's why I'm just kind of guessing to where I want them to be. And I can start coloring some more things from just sitting back so I can see my whole piece. Maybe where else I'd like to add some more color. Here if I'm happy with what I have. I like sitting back and looking at my drawing from afar angle, looking at it from a distance. I can help you sometimes if you're wondering what else to change, sit back and look at it at a different perspective. 6. Colouring Details and Adding a Background: I think I'm going to start with the mushrooms now. He's little guys. Might make them a lighter color. A light yellow maybe. That would work well with my pink and my green. That's something too crazy. But something friendly. Lighter colors are definitely more friendly and happy. In the two on this side as well. I'll have them all the same color or pattern. It'll be all the same type of mushroom. And then again, a lighter color and eye color it over my rocks here. So I'm just erasing that part. In going to my other side here. You'll make the spots a light pink, sort of matches my tree. I just want to have some matching elements here in back to my other side. And just a couple of spots here and my mushroom, it is very tiny. They are easy to miss. And underneath this little lip of the mushroom I'm adding a darker color is more of a darker yellow. Since the light won't be shining here. This darker color just means that there is a shadow happening. Go back to the side. Do the same thing. On these mushrooms. I'm going to have these dots below a little bit. You want any sort of glowing part to your drawing. What you can do is draw around the area very lightly with a pencil crayon. And this sort of gives it a low look just right over top of the element that you're trying to make glue very, very lightly, make a circle motion around it. It's kinda like this, going all the way around it. And as you draw very lightly, I'll make it look like it's glowing. Since I'm working digitally, I have another way of making mind glow. It's still the same effect as if you were doing it on your peach. I'll do it on these mushrooms as well. Do it. As a background, I can have a background on yours. Might have mine, a blue color. I think I like that kind of matches the water. I'm happy with how that looks. And we'll see how I want to add some more lights to my tree here. Also add some darker sort of ink or red colors to this. So I have a nice shadow as well. Still want this to look fluffy. Want to make sure that it looks like there's flowers or leaves here. Add some darker colors to the bottom in lighter colors to the top. That's what I tend to do when I know I have my light facing on top. Just like a sun. Usually the sun is above and below. Just adding those darker colors to the bottom. In maybe around my tree here. It's minus pink. Just keep layering light pink colors over top. You can do that to any color. So if you have a green tree at some lighter greens, the top of your leaves, and add some darker greens to the bottom. Here's my trunk here. I wanted to add some more brown to it, not keep it as solid. I'm going to add later oranges. Just going to follow the shape of my tree here. I'm not doing anything crazy. He'll following Sketch or just the branches here. I'm going to put some more color down. And then maybe I'll add some more darker colors. Once I'm finished. I'm going back in with a darker brown just so I can tone down orange edges. Put the one for me too crazy. I'm bringing back some of my sketch here. That's why you still see some more lines. I want to do some details like I did on my sketch. Adding some darker browns to the side. So I have a darker flowers and leaves here. I'm also adding darker browns to my branches. Following that same pattern than I've been doing. The right side of my tree is dark. The left side of my tree is going to be late. A few more light colors. Go back and do those legs again. I'll make these legs a light color carefully just following that shape. He have any sort of blue elements in your glass container? Usually the glass will also be a light blue color. Glass can be a little tricky to color. That it's actually very simple to do. A couple of blue light blue shading on there that will make it look like there's glass. And you can add some highlights to it. That's what I'm going to do. It looks like it's very shiny. Going to go over it with the darker blue as well. So I get that nice shape there. Don't want it to be too lost. You'll add some dark green just kinda like Iraq's I have on the bottom there. Now for my sort of finishing touches, I'm going to continue my oil here. I'm going to lightly you a blue color to finish that. When you go right over top of everything I just did. This makes it seem as if it's still in a glass container and not just kinda floating. If yours is in a jar, you can have a lid on it. We're hanging outside of it. If you already have a good idea of how you want yours to be and you're already coloring it. Just an idea. I'm just going to erase that portion in very careful where I have my line or my eraser. Let's say it's going to end with this part of the tree here, the flowers. There'll be over top of the glass. Yeah, layers are a big feature in digital art programs and they can be kind of tricky to understand at first. But everything, if you have a background, it will be behind your drawing. So that will be on the bottom layer. So that is the end of today's lesson. Thank you all so much fine.