It’s important to learn to draw competently so you can produce representational watercolour paintings. You could try some simple images without drawing, but you will not progress with your painting in the same way. Although some successful artists produce work without initial drawing, you will invariably find that they have a natural aptitude for observing form and composition, and will have already learnt to draw well.

This month we want to cover the very basic skills needed to draw landscapes. You may not succeed first time, but this is quite usual. Just keep practising the exercises below; you’ll find your confidence and your skills improve.


The Pencils

2B will give you the lightest tone. Take care not to press too hard on the watercolour paper, as it might indent the surface. Liz uses this grade of pencil when drawing images for her flower paintings.

4B is a medium soft pencil and can be used to give a medium to darker tone by pressing harder. This is commonly used to draw an image onto watercolour paper and for sketching.

8B is a very soft pencil and will give a very dark tone. Often used for sketching, this produces light enough marks as well as a good range of tones, depending on how hard you press.

A putty rubber won’t mark your paper if used gently.

The paper in your sketchbook should be good quality cartridge with a smooth surface. This is ideal for sketching and taking watercolour washes.

DEMONSTRATION - how to draw a simple tree

Use the side of your pencil to draw the main trunks of a tree.

Draw a curved line with the point of your pencil to show the top of the canopy.  Then, still using the point, draw the finer branches up to this line.

Using the side of the pencil, shade in the finer twigs at the top of the tree in a downwards direction from the curved canopy line.

To help anchor the tree to the ground, indicate a hedgerow with the side of the pencil.

The finished drawing

DEMONSTRATION 2 - how to draw a simple mountain scene