How To Draw Tree Foliage With Coloured Pencils

Using Derwent Lightfast Oil Pencils

Lightfast Coloured Pencils are pencils that have a pigment that is resistant to fading and discolouration.

They are oil-based pencils, made from pigments mixed with an oil binder, which helps to prevent the colour from rubbing off on the paper surface.

I just got a huge 100 pencils box of Derwent Lightfast pencils for my birthday and I LOVE them! The sheer variety of colours and how they can be used allow me more creative freedom without the mess of mixing paint.

This box of Derwent Lightfast Pencils has 100 colours to choose from!

These coloured pencils can be used to create drawings on paper, canvas, or other surfaces. They can be used like paintbrushes and applied with strokes across the surface to create different effects. Coloured pencils can also be used in combination with other media such as pastels and watercolour paints or gloss paint (my favourite media).

Drawing Trees With Lightfast Pencils

My latest drawing with these pencils is of rich green trees in Clitheroe Castle Park. In this post you can find out about the drawing techniques I used to create the leaves, grass, sky, shadow etc.

Drawing Trees – The Process

1. Choosing my colour scheme

This is my choice of colours – there are mostly green and blue colours then a little bit of cool yellow, yellow ochre, warm grey and light lavender (purple) which I will use for the shadows. ↓

Using a green pencil I outlined the basic shapes of trees and mapped out the overall composition.

I’ve sketched this composition from a two-point perspective. ↑

I always work around the colour wheel and apply colour theory:

The green colour is going to be the dominating colour in this picture. Yellow and blue make green so it makes sense to put blue in the shadows in between the leaves and yellow in the highlight. These two colours mixed together will make some kind of dark green.

2. Mark making

I like showing different mark-making – the marks that the pencil leaves on the paper. 

In this drawing I’ve used different marks to indicate the texture and add some kind of special energy, depending on the object: 

Straight lines show the smooth and vast surface of the grass in the foreground.

The scattered, zig-zag-like lines show the tree’s foliage, leaves now move with the breeze and you can feel their movement.  

The sky – as the sky is part of the vast space of the Universe, I have used cross-hatching lines, lines that spread with the direction of the lines of perspective, widening

Now, the sky looks like some kind of elastic sheet, stretching above, wrapping the whole scene. You can sense the space… you can sense its grand energy, you know just by looking at it that this very space has existed before you and will exist after you. We are very fragile and dependent on that space…

The cross-hatching also symbolises how all the existing creatures are in some way interlinked. We are certainly linked with the trees in this picture. They support us and we will one day support them… After all, we are all mostly made of the same atoms.

It was such an amazing morning, the beginning of a warm, sunny day.  

I wanted to create the feeling of heat by starting the sky with light pink colour. This pink placed next to yellow adds so much warmth to this scene. Warms the blue sky – and warms the green trees.

The picture is finally getting into the mood and I am adding more saturation to all the colours, especially the sky and to the greens of the trees. 

I love these pencils! I love the fact that there is no mess and I have a ready choice of colours which I don’t need to try to mix from basic colours to find. 

Some of the pencils are softer than the others and some of the pencils easily blend. Some colours are intensive and stand out and some are only vaguely visible, adding slight lightness to colour or neutralising it. It’s like a colour orchestra – each stroke of colour has a different depth, yet all are necessary for the symphony to make sense.

3. Dripping Gloss Paint – my signature technique

I have not yet finished this picture, I feel that to be fully satisfied with this image I need to add now my signature technique – drizzling gloss paint. I know how my strokes like to present themselves in a glossy garment… It makes them feel special and elegant:)

4. Shadows

I am going to start with the darkest places in this painting with shadows.

It was my underlying idea from the beginning to show the shadow in blue colour this is what I’m always striving to achieve some unexpected colours to show some unexpected combinations of colours. We all perceive shadow arse maybe darker green-brown but for me, it is going to be blue. 

Here’s my reason for this: green colour is a combination of blue and yellow so I wanted to show this transition of blue in the shadows, green as the mid-tone and then highlights in yellow.

Now you can see the contrast, the dramatic change as the trees come to life.

5. The foreground grass field

It is quite difficult to find the right colour for this grass. 

It is kind of green but it’s also yellow and a little bit of blue. I’ve used a lot of white, a touch of yellow, green and a touch of blue. That combination of colours seems to make the trick.

This light yellow/light blue being in the foreground closes the scene.

The gloss paint is still fresh and nicely merges with the previous colour. Now I’ve got this beautiful gradient-like effect which is made out of dark blue and this light greenish-white. Creating a cool effect!

I’ll wait for the paint to dry, and then I’ll decide if I need to add something else. Maybe a splash of yellow on the trees but it is best to wait, ‘sleep on it’ so I do not overdo it.

I’m curious what do you think? Shall I add something else?

The Poplar Trees In The Park – lightfast pencils 40/28cm, framed to your order – choose between white or black frame £179

Print Available

Read Next:

Introducing Derwent Lightfast Oil Pencils

Lightfast Coloured Pencils are pencils that have a pigment that is resistant to fading and discolouration when exposed to light. The sheer variety of colours and how they can be used allow me more creative freedom without the mess of mixing paint.


Published by Gosh Art by Gosha Gibek

Filling the world with colours, capture your passions and the athletic version of you.

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