In this tutorial, I will show you how to draw a simple cartoon tree using some basic techniques that can be done using a vector application. I will show you that adding depth and lighting effects is not as difficult as it looks.
The final illustration can be seen below. This is the result we are looking for once this lesson is over. Of course, trees are all different so you don't need to create an illustration that is 100% similar to this one. Use your imagination and create something original! :)
Great! Let's begin with the creation of the trunk and a few branches using some broken lines. Start with something simple. Once you are done, you can add a few lines on the tree to create some textures.
The next step is to fill in the image with colors. It's a good habit when working on a complex illustration like this one to create a new shape for the trunk and make sure that the outline is separated. I will show you later why you must proceed like that.
Cool! You can now add some leaves on top of the tree. Each line below is drawn individually instead of using a single line to create all leaves. All branches must be covered.
In this simple step, you can add colors inside the leaves. Once again, you must create a new shape below the outlines done in the previous step to create these plain colors. Outlines and solid shapes are done in different layers! The outline of the leaves must be filled with a dark green color.
These branches are nice, but to make them even more realistic you can cover them with leaves as shown in the illustration below.
Create a solid shape below the outlines of the new leaves (but over the plain colors) to hide the branches. Use the same green color to make sure that everything looks relevant.
This is the most complex step. You can use the gradient fill tool to add some depth to this cartoon tree. As you can see below, the bottom of the trunk is darker while the top is lighter. Same thing for the leaves.
The top of the branches are also covered with leaves. Your goal is to make sure that the top of the leaves created to cover the branches are the same color as the leaves done in the first place.
Since most gradient tools are able to add the desired effect using a flat line, you need to create additional shapes if you want to add more than one dark area on the trunk. Simply draw a dark shape on top of the branches (the red shapes below) and use transparency to partially hide the bottom of these shapes.
Remember when I said earlier that it would be a good idea to create the plain colors and the outlines separately? This is the reason that I asked you to create these elements separately. These new dark shapes are placed between the outlines (that are on top) and the plain colors (that are below).
Nice work! This cartoon tree is getting better and better! You can now start adding some shadows on the tree as shown below. Dark areas are sketch on the left of the trunk and below the branches.
The same thing can be done here. You can add more areas that are darker. Don't hesitate to add two, three or more different variations of the same color. That's the only tip to create something with depth and volume.
Continue adding darker areas on the bottom of the branches. You can also draw a lighter spot on top of the tree and another one in the middle of the trunk.
Yes! This is the final version filled with all the details needed to create a fun illustration filled with great effects. Don't be overwhelmed by all the details needed to create this cartoon tree. If you look at each step carefully and take your time, drawing this tree will be easy.
Now that this lesson is completed, feel free to try more trees and plants from this site. It's nice to work with a large variety of tutorials so that you can learn new tips and techniques that can be used to draw more fun illustrations. Have fun and enjoy!