How to Paint Watercolor Trees; 3 Step-by-Step Tutorials

how to paint watercolor trees

Do you want to learn how to paint beautiful watercolor trees? With these step-by-step tutorials, you can paint along with me! I’ll be demonstrating how to create impressionistic and realistic trees using both beginner and advanced techniques. You’ll be able to create your masterpieces in no time! So, grab your supplies, and let’s get started!

How to paint watercolor pine tree; all versions

If you’re a beginner, you will love this three step process for painting simple watercolor trees

Simplifying is the key to success. When you have a process it’s easier to get in a groove, versus being stuck not knowing where to start, or what to do next. Once you have a system for how to paint trees with watercolors, or any subject, you can always tweak it when necessary.

This is called a general model. Having an effective system in place that you can use and make changes depending on the situation.

how to paint trees with watercolor, scumbling technique

Step-by-step process for painting a simple tree

Step one is to scumble. Load the brush with any color and use the side of the bristles to apply the paint. This is most effective if you use light pressure and allow for some sky holes to remain. In other words, don’t paint a solid shape. Trees have areas where you can see the sky through the leaves.

how to watercolor paint trees; charging

Charge the color

Step two is the charge the color using thicker paint. Load the brush and apply it wet-in-wet to the first wash. This adds density which keeps the tree from looking too flat.

painting trees with watercolor; adding trunks

Paint the tree trunks

Step three is to paint the trunk. If you study trunks they are poles! To keep them looking like trees paint them in short sections and move the brush in different angles. Keep in mind we can alter how we use these steps, which is what will happen in the next example.

How to paint a pine tree

How to paint pine trees with watercolors

To do this we will use the same steps as we did in example one. But this time we will paint the trunk first using the tip of the bristles. Start with a thin line at the top and make it thicker as you move downwards.

How to paint watercolor pine tree; horizontal strokes

Use scumbling techniques

The needles and branches are painted with horizontal strokes using the scumbling technique. Vary the degree of pressure applied to the paper. This will create more interest and make it look realistic.

How to paint watercolor pine tree; charging

Charge the color

Remember to charge the color using thicker paint, This adds density and avoids a flat tree. That’s it! You have just painted a watercolor pine tree.

Trees using upside-down painting

How to paint winter trees

The example is a leafless tree, think wintertime. Try turning the paper upside down this time. It’s a great way to create less predictable tree trunks. Start at the base with more pressure so the trunk is thicker. Decrease the pressure as you paint towards the top of the tree. Add a few smaller branches, and then some charging to finish it off.

Use alternative brushes

Try bristle brushes for painting trees

Use alternative brushes for a more textured look. This could be a good time to use that fan brush you’ve been wanting to try out!

There’s no need to paint every leaf on the tree, focus on painting the most important ones and the outside shape.

Charging with dagger brush

Put a dagger in it!

A dagger brush is used in this example. But the steps are the same. Use scumbling to add leave masses, charge them so they look more realistic, and finally add some trunks. The more you experiment, the more you learn.

painting with dagger brush

Charge it!

Experiment as mush as you can with colors and brushes. But have a general model in place to help guide the way. Painting trees with watercolors is an enjoyable, relaxing hobby that will enhance your landscapes the more you practice.


And there you have it! Three beautiful watercolor trees, each with their unique techniques. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and will be inspired to paint your watercolor trees. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! Happy Painting!