How to Paint a Tree Right (Birch tree) with Water Colour

Hello everyone, Nupur here today, to share my first post as Itsy Bitsy DT team member.

Many times I have been asked questions on how to paint a tree trunk. So this blog is all about painting tree trunks, especially for the newbies using water colour. This is an easy to handle technique and while there are definitely more techniques involved to make it look more real, but lets first start with the basics.

Have a look at the finished tree trunk first, to understand what we are trying to achieve here:

To start with, some thumb rules in water colour:

  • Always have 2 glasses of water to wash the brushes, one to wash light colours and other for dark colours
  • Always mix the colour in colour palette first before applying it on the paper
  • If you are new to water colour then always check the mixed colour on a rough paper
  • Always use thick paper (at least 140 gsm). I used Little Birdie Cartridge Paper.

So let us get started.

We first draw the tree outline (very light), you can use 2H pencil for this. We also need to fix the direction of light so that, that particular side will be light in colour (Identifying the direction of light is also important to make shadows, which we won’t be covering in this blog)

Now we will be using wet on wet technique (this means adding wet paint on wet surface). So, for this  first we will wet our tree trunk with clean water. For this you can use 12 no. round brush.

Then we mix cobalt blue colour and water in the portion of 1:5 (i.e. very light colour) in the palette. While our paper is still wet, we take our newly mixed colour and just add it on to the wet portion.

Now we will mix our Burnt Sienna with water in colour plate (1:4 approx.).

And while our paper is still wet, we will add this colour from the right side of the trunk (since light is coming from the left side, so left side would be lighter and right side would be darker)

Now we mix Burnt Sienna and Black (more of burnt Sienna and less of black) and water of course in the palette.

And again while the paper is still wet, we will add little bit of this colour on the right side of the trunk, and give some lines in the middle as well (Note: now switching to thinner brush, we use 2 no. round brush here)

Now we should allow our paper to dry.

Once the paper is dry, we mix Burnt Sienna and black (almost 3:2 still more Burnt Sienna) and add it again on the right side of the trunk. We now make branches as well.

Now we again mix Burnt Sienna and black (with more black this time) and paint it on the right side.  Using the same colour mix we will also make the ground in our painting.

Now we make the leaves (use olive green) and give final touches to the trunks with black and very little Burnt Sienna.

Here is a closer look at the leaves:

Now using a very hard brush, probably the hardest brush you have and loading it with the olive green, just spatter it on the ground. Also, make some extra branches with the liner brush.

With this, we are done with the painting. Hope this is helpful to get you started with water colour.

Material Used:

  • Little Birdie Cartridge Paper (150 gsm)
  • Mont Marte colours-I have used travel set (cobalt blue, burnt Sienna, black, Olive green)
  • Brushes: 12 no. round brush, 2 no. round brush, 2 no. liner brush
  • Colour palette (for mixing colours- I have used Mont Marte)
  • 2H pencil
  • 2 different glasses of water
  • One hard brush (preferably thicker brush, I used 12 no. round brush)


Please do post your comments and let me know if it was helpful or not. ?

All the best and happy painting. ?




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