How to Draw an African Tree

By Leslie Rose ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Pencil
  • Paper

Although there is no specific species called “African Tree," one of the most distinctly recognizable trees of the African plains is the Acacia tree, often associated with images of lions lounging in their shade and zebras grazing beneath their canopy. Acacia trees have a distinctive umbrella shape, with long, slender trunks and branches, and leaves spread out wide and flat on top.

Draw a line coming out of the ground. Give the line an organic quality—it should be neither perfectly straight, nor totally crooked, but falling somewhere in between. This is the right side of the trunk.

Draw a line parallel to the line you just drew in step 1, on the left side. This is the left side of the trunk. It should follow the contours of the line you drew in Step 1.

Branch the trunk out at the top, turning the right side sharply to the right, and the left side sharply to the left. These lines represent the underside of the lowest branches. They should be neither totally crooked nor straight, but should fall somewhere in between. Angle the branches upward slightly, so that they form an angle slightly greater than 90 degrees with the line of the trunk.

Draw the top line of the lowest branches. Do this by drawing a very wide V whose vertex is in the center top of the trunk and whose arms reach out over the tops of the branches you started to draw in Step 3.

Split the ends of the lowest branches into two parts, repeating the steps you took to divide the trunk, so that the two branches you drew in steps 3 and 4 become four branches. The outer branches should follow the path of the branches they’re splitting off from, and the inside branches should mirror the angles of the outer branches.

Split the ends of the branches you drew in step 5 into two parts again, so that the four branches you drew in step 5 become eight branches.

At the top of the eight branches, draw the outline of the leaves. The body of these leaves will be jagged and irregular, residing in flat clumps at the tops of the branches.

Shade the leaves with your pencil. The underside of the leaves should be darker than the tops.

Shade the trunk, more darkly and evenly than the leaves.

About the Author

Leslie Rose has been a freelance writer publishing with Demand Studios since 2008. In addition to her work as a writer, she is an accomplished painter and experienced art teacher. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in art with a minor in English.