Emily Armstrong
Three drawings of Christmas tree, one in ink, one in pencil, and the last in colored pencil

Christmas is almost here, and what better way to practice your drawing skills than by learning how to draw a Christmas tree! I’ve created step-by-step drawing instructions to help you create a beautiful, natural-looking Christmas tree. This easy step by step drawing tutorial for beginners is great for people who want to get better at drawing real trees, too. Use a pencil for a softer realistic tree drawing, or finish your artwork with an ink pen for a bolder illustration. 

Step 1: Drawing the Basic Shape

Diagram with arrows pointing to the center line and basic shape of a fir tree

Begin by drawing the basic shape of a fir tree. Sketch a center line for the trunk and a long triangle for the shape of the tree. It can be either long and skinny or short and wide. When sketching, it’s important to keep your lines light so you can draw over them later.

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Diagram showing the different levels of branches on a Christmas tree.

When you look at a Christmas tree, you will see how the branches extend out from the trunk on different levels. Sketch in the levels where you will later draw in the branches. The levels are closer together at the top and farther apart at the bottom, where the branches are larger.

Step 2: Drawing the Branches

A diagram showing the different shapes of front and side tree branches

The branches of a Christmas tree extend from the center to each side, including the back and the front. The branches that point directly towards us are foreshortened, which means we can’t see the full length of them. To create the illusion of a three-dimensional tree, draw the front branches as wide, short shapes. Follow the drawing instructions in the diagram to draw branches that point in each of these different directions: left side, center, and right side.

A diagram showing how to add three branches to each level of a Christmas tree

Start from the top and sketch in three branches for each level. Remember, the branches that reach towards the front are shorter and wider than the other branches. Each level of branches should come out from under the level above it. For a natural-looking tree, use broken lines and different-shaped branches. For a cartoon Christmas tree drawing, use bold outlines and similar shapes.

Step 3: Adding Extra Details

Example of three different types of Christmas decorations

If you are creating a Christmas drawing, now is the time to sketch in decorations. Try baubles or bows, and perhaps add a star on top. Add in a trunk. Then, clean up your drawing by erasing any lines that are no longer needed.

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Step 4: Using Shading and Tonal Value To Create Depth

A diagram showing how to add shading to the underside of fir tree branches. Shading the tree branch shadows to create depth.

To draw a realistic tree, it is important to have light values, gray values, and dark values. Begin by imagining where the light source is coming from and where it will hit your tree.  Keep the tops of each branch (and each level) light. Then add texture to the underside of each branch to create darker shadows. Use looser pencil strokes for a natural pine needle effect. Start from the top and work your way down. If you have included decorations, make sure you add shadows to these also.

Step 5: The Final Details

Two detailed drawings of a Christmas tree in ink and in pencil

Now you can decide how you want to finish your Christmas tree drawing – what kind of style do you prefer? You can keep it as a pencil drawing, or incorporate an ink pen, colored pencils, or even watercolor paints (just make sure the paper is wet-strength if adding paint!). If your tree needs more foliage, draw in extra branches at the center of the tree to make it appear fuller. If you’re leaving it as a pencil drawing, heighten the contrast by darkening the shadows with a 6B pencil. For a more detailed tree, draw fine lines that resemble pine needles. You can even add a light splash of color with colored pencils or watercolor paints, allowing your line drawing to show through. 

Three detailed drawings of a Christmas tree, one each in ink, pencil, and colored pencils.

I hope you enjoy using this tutorial to create Christmas cards and decorations or to get into the Christmas spirit!

Page Last Updated: December 2021