Palms are one of the best known and most widely planted tree families; there are about 2,600 species of palm trees. They are also a popular symbol of vacations and the tropical island paradise.
In this tutorial, we’ll explore the typical form of a palm-tree leaf. This will help us to draw the whole tree in the second part of the tutorial. Let's have fun!
You may also be interested in these nature-inspired tutorials:
- How to Draw a TreeEugenia Hauss27 Mar 2018
- How to Draw TreesMonika Zagrobelna28 Jul 2021
- How to Draw a Leaf Step by StepEugenia Hauss02 Nov 2017
What You Will Need
- an HB graphite pencil
- a 3B graphite pencil
- an eraser
- drawing paper
1. How to Draw a Leaf of a Palm Tree
Let’s explore a palm leaf in detail. The most prevalent shape resembles a feather; it may be more elongated or more widened, but the main features are present.
With an HB pencil, I mark the long core of the leaf. It’s not just a line, but a long pointed shape with its own width.
I outline the rough borders, where the leaflets should end. Allowing some asymmetry can be a deliberate decision here—a leaf is a natural, organic object.
I fill the left side of the shape with long, narrow leaflets. The goal is to make each leaflet slightly different from its neighbors.
I also play with the width of the leaflets, making them even narrower in the place where they're attached to the rachis (the core of the leaf).
Now I fill the right side of the leaf with the leaflets.
I add some shadows, using the 3B graphite pencil. The leaf is complete!
Palm leaves can be of various forms and sizes. In the image below, you can see several more shapes; some of them are close to a feather-like shape, while others resemble fans.
In terms of the drawing process, the difference between the shapes isn’t substantial. You can easily draw any type; the method is the same—first drawing the core line, then adding the leaflets so that the halves form a harmonious whole.
2. How to Draw a Palm Tree
Now let’s draw a whole tree! But before we proceed to outlining the basic shape of the palm tree, we should decide on the composition and direction of the trunk.
A palm tree trunk can be almost vertical, but it can also be slightly curved or even resemble a diagonal. Below are three sketches that illustrate this concept.
I choose to draw two palm trees standing right next to each other; having a pair of objects helps us to build a nice, visually appealing composition.
With the HB pencil, I draw the core lines of the trunks. Most palms have a straight, unbranched trunk, but there are rare exceptions.
I add the contours of the trunks, using an organic, smooth line.
I add the core lines of the leaves to the tree on the left side. Remember, a rachis is rigid but curved, and the leaves should be facing in different directions.
The leaves are arranged in a spiral at the top of the trunk. Some leaves may overlap the trunk to make the drawing more realistic.
I add the core lines of the leaves to the second palm tree.
Arming myself with patience, I draw the leaflets.
By the way, you don’t have to define every single leaflet; it’s possible to use a scribble-like or a zig-zag line to fill the space beside the core of the leaf. The leaves are relatively far from the viewer, so we can’t see all the details.
Let’s agree that the tree that we are drawing is a coconut palm. I add the rounded shapes of the coconuts to the palm on the left side.
With the HB pencil, I apply a couple of layers of contour hatching to the trunks. The goal is to create an illusion that we have a three-dimensional shape.
With the 3B pencil, I add some darker spots and stripes to the pattern of the trunk.
The trunks of palm trees demonstrate a variety of patterns: they can be covered with fibers or spines, have a rough or smooth texture, and demonstrate random stripes or scale-like shapes. You can see a couple of examples in the illustration below.
With the 3B pencil, I darken the leaves, especially in the places where they are attached to the top of the trunk. Try to find the visual rhythm that works for you.
And please don’t forget about the coconuts—we should darken them, too.
With the 3B pencil, I complete the drawing by adding some dots and lines right near the trunk—this creates an illusion that the tree is growing in the sand. It’s also possible to include the short grass blades.
Your Drawings Are Complete
Congratulations—we’ve created some beautiful graphite pencil sketches! I hope you were inspired by the palm trees and enjoyed the process of drawing.
Let your creative journey be fruitful and full of joy!