How to Paint Snow on Trees

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A challenge to landscape artists is the painting of snow. It is not as difficult as it may seem, but there are things to keep in mind. One is that the art of painting involves illusion. Use of a cool color will create the appearance of cold. Another thing is that snow is not necessarily all white. It has depth and shadow, which are not pure white. If you are not using a background color other than white, you might be concerned that the snow will blend into the background, but snow can be drawn as it sticks to trees in nature and can add dimension and character to a painting.

Learn the differences between how a deciduous tree and an evergreen tree will look in the winter. On a deciduous tree, the snow will lie on branches and the trunk, but an evergreen will bend, bearing the weight of the snow upon its boughs.

Sketch the landscape ground in curves depicting drifts of snow. Draw a deciduous tree by curving a strong trunk upward and sketching the branches outward. Add lots of little branches. You may be erasing some of these later, so make them as light as you can, just to indicate their presence.

Choose the direction that the snow has fallen from in your picture. Because you are painting a winter scene, the light source will come from the south. Many winter storms come from the north or west in the United States, so if your light source is coming from the front or back of your painting, the snow will lie on the left or right of the tree. Paint the front of the trunk with the natural color, and leave a white stripe just to the side of that. Darken your white slightly and paint shaded snow next to the white. Line the side of the trunk with the color that is darker than the trunk. Darken the opposite side of the trunk with a shade darker than the natural color of the trunk to create the illusion of a round trunk.

Sketch your evergreen tree with a strong trunk and downward slanting, slightly curvy branches. Paint white snow in patches on the green boughs. Remember that the shading shows contour in the snow, so add bits of the off-white in various places and on the outline of the snow to create dimension. The boughs with the heaviest amount of snow will sag the most. Paint more snow on the boughs that are facing in the same direction as the snow on the trunk of the deciduous tree. Create dimension in your tree with very dark green shades between boughs.