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How to Draw a Winter Landscape From Scratch

This post is part of a series called Learn How to Draw.
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Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Winter is cold and unpleasant, but it definitely creates beautiful landscapes. Mountains and tree branches covered with snow, lakes turned into ice... Even if there's no winter where you live, you can create some winter magic by drawing a snowy scene. In this tutorial I will show you how!

What You Will Need

  • Sheet of paper
  • HB pencil
  • 2B pencil
  • 5B pencil
  • 8B pencil
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Eraser
what tools do i need for drawing

1. How to Sketch the Mountains

Step 1

Take the HB pencil and sketch the general outline of the mountains with sharp, ragged lines. Press as lightly as possible—the lines should be barely visible.

You can use a reference for this step—for example, one of the mountain photos on PhotoDune.

how to draw outline of mountains

Step 2

Draw some "branching" all over the mountains.

how to start drawing a mountain

Step 3

Now add branches to these lines. You don't need to be very careful—draw these lines sharply, chaotically. Nature doesn't like perfection!

mountain sketch

Step 4

Change your grip to a looser one, to draw with a side of the lead. 

how to hold a pencil

Use this grip to shade one side of each branch. This should create a 3D effect.

how to shade mountains

Step 5

Change your grip back to the precise one (the one you use for writing), and make the edges of the ridges more detailed.

how to draw a simple sketch of mountains

2. How to Draw Snow on the Mountains

Step 1

Take the 2B pencil now, tilt it (change the grip) and darken the shadowed side of each ridge. This is supposed to be the area uncovered by the snow. Feel free to press hard to achieve a deep, dark shade.

how to draw dark parts of the mountains

Step 2

Continue the process by going lower and lower, leaving some space for the snow. To create a proper pattern, imagine that the snow is sliding over the ridges.

how to draw snow on the mountains

Step 3

Shade the same side of the ridges some more to create a contrast between the shadowed and the illuminated side.

how to shade the mountains

Step 4

Tilt the pencil and draw the area uncovered with snow on the other side. Don't press as hard so that you keep the contrast between both sides.

how to draw details on mountains

Step 5

Take the 5B pencil, make sure it's sharp, and use it to add details/detailed shading on the shadowed side.

how to draw rocks on the mountains

Step 6

Take the eraser, clean it, and use it to carefully brighten the snow between the ridges. Be careful not to erase the details!

how to draw snow with eraser

Step 7

Take the HB pencil, make sure it's sharp, and use it to create a border between the "naked" rock and the snow layer. You can also add some details (loose rocks) with it.

how to draw snow

3. How to Draw a Winter Landscape With Frozen Lake and Trees

Step 1

If we darken the sky, the contrast will make the snow look whiter. Take the 2B pencil, tilt it, and fill the sky with it. Then blur it using a finger.

how to quickly draw sky

Step 2

Use the eraser to "draw" the clouds. You can learn more about drawing clouds from my tutorial:

how to draw clouds with eraser

Step 3

Use the HB pencil to outline the shore of the lake. Leave some area of snow between the mountains and the lake.

how to draw a lake

Step 4

To create a nicer composition and a sense of scale, sketch some trees that are closer to the viewer than the mountains.

how to draw nice composition

Step 5

Take the 2B pencil, tilt it slightly, and sketch the branches. Leave some white between them to place snow there.

You can learn more about drawing trees from my tutorial:

how to draw snowy trees

Step 6

Use the HB pencil to draw the outline of the snow. Make it heavy!

how to draw snow on trees

Step 7

Take a well-sharpened 8B pencil and darken the branches, adding some details to them.

how to draw snowy evergreens

Step 8

Use the 5B pencil to shade the ground under the trees.

how to draw snow ground

Step 9

Take the HB pencil and sketch more trees going deeper and deeper into the background. This will add a sense of distance.

how tocreate depth in picture

Step 10

Shade the trees, with contrast fading as they go deeper into the background.

how to draw trees with aerial perspective

Step 11

Add a whole forest of tiny trees under the mountains. Draw them with the 2B pencil, and don't try to include any details—they can be just a bunch of short lines.

how to draw trees from distance

Step 12

Take the HB pencil and stress the line of the shore again to know exactly where the lake starts.

how to sketch a lake

Step 13

Take the 5B pencil, tilt it, and draw a very basic reflection of the scene. Ice is not as reflective as water, so don't worry about the details.

how to draw reflection in frozen lake

Step 14

Take the eraser and smudge it over the lake. This will create an effect of a matte reflection.

how to draw frozen lake

Step 15

Scan the drawing or take a photo of it, and don't forget to clean it up before sharing!

how to draw winter scenery with pencils

That Was Cool!

Did you like this tutorial? Don't forget to try others from the Drawing Nature series:

how to draw winter landscape
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