Are you looking to learn how to draw a palm tree? Then you’ve come to the right place. This step-by-step guide shows how to draw a realistic looking palm tree, and is suitable for everyone, from beginner to expert level.
What You Will Learn In This guide
This palm tree guide is suitable for people of different levels and abilities – whether you need full step-by-step guidance or simply want to skip ahead to specific sections and hone your skills.
Use this interactive table of contents to get to the sections you want to read.
- A Quick Preview of All Steps
- How to Draw a Palm Tree Realistically
- Let’s Get Started: Draw Guidelines For Your Palm Tree Silhouette
- How to Draw a Palm Tree Trunk
- How to Draw a Palm Tree Leaf
- Your Palm Tree Drawing Is Complete
A Quick Preview of All Steps
We start with a quick overview of all steps. Don’t worry about understanding all the details yet, because we will talk about each step in a lot of detail further down this guide. It’s just a good idea to see the bigger picture with all steps before you start your drawing.
How to Draw a Palm Tree Realistically
Before you start it’s worth remembering that there are a few specific techniques you can use to make sure your palm tree looks realistic.
The first tip to make your palm tree drawing realistic is to use a light, careful hand. First, draw in the lines lightly and keep an eraser to hand. You can then darken the lines when you are satisfied you have drawn the palm tree characteristics correctly.
Another useful tip for creating authenticity in your palm tree drawing is to make sure none of your lines are too straight or perfect. It’s okay to use slightly wobbly lines and draw freehand. Remember palm trees are a part of nature and so they tend to have an irregular shape.
Now let’s grab a pencil and some paper, and get ready to start drawing that palm tree!
Let’s Get Started: Draw Guidelines for your Palm Tree Silhouette
We start our palm tree drawing by sketching the guidelines of a plam tree silhouette. Palm trees have long, slightly curved trunks with a full plume of leaves at the top. To ensure you get the shape and proportion of your palm tree drawing right, start by drawing a few simple guidelines.
Step 1 – Draw two guidelines to get the proportions of your palm tree sketch right
Lightly draw a straight line upwards of the height you would like your palm tree to be.
Now, in the upper third, draw a line horizontally to mark where the leaves will be drawn in on the palm tree. Use the below picture as a guide.
Do not worry about these guidelines affecting the overall look of your palm tree drawing as we will erase them later on.
Step 2 – Add a few extra guidelines at the top
Now we add a few guidelines to outline the leaves at the top of the trunk. Getting your guidelines in roughly the right proportions is important, without them your palm tree drawing may look out of shape and weirdly sized.
We will erase the guidelines in the steps that follow, so don’t worry how the palm tree looks right now
Before moving onto drawing the palm tree trunk, take another look at the above picture to make sure your guidelines have a similar height and size.
How to Draw a Palm Tree Trunk
Step 1 – Outline The Palm Tree Trunk In Your Drawing
Now it’s time to add in your palm tree trunk. To do this, use the vertical line you drew in the first step of the previous section and draw a thin trunk around it.
As with most tree trunks, the widest part should be at the bottom getting thinner as it goes up towards the outline for the leaves. The trunk should not be too thin or too thick, use the picture above as a guide and don’t be afraid to erase and re-sketch the outline again if you need to.
Notice how the trunk in the above picture is not perfectly straight, but slightly wobbly, this is to imitate a real palm tree trunk.
Step 2 – Round the base of the palm tree trunk
The next step is to draw a slightly rounded base for the bottom of the trunk. Follow the below picture for guidance, notice how the palm tree’s base uses a slightly curved line rather than a straight one.
Once you have drawn the base of the trunk, you should be able to see how the overall shape of your trunk looks. Take a moment to compare yours to the picture above and use the eraser to correct and amend if needed.
Don’t forget, a wobbly trunk outline is fine as this adds to the overall effect. If your trunk seems a little too straight and perfect, try lightly sketching over the outline so it is more like the picture above.
Step 3 – Add texture to the palm tree trunk
One of the most famous features of a palm tree is its grooved trunk. To recreate this, lightly draw in horizontal lines going up the trunk. These lines should be slightly curved to indicate the cylindrical shape of the trunk.
Use the picture as a guide for the spacing between these grooves in the trunk. The distance between each groove should be fairly regular but not perfectly spread out as you want the spacing to look organic and natural.
You can now see your palm tree trunk is beginning to look more and more real.
Step 4 – Darken the texture of your grooves to make your palm tree drawing realistic
Once you are happy with the texture of the trunk, you can slightly darken your lines as in the picture below, to add a realistic look of volume to the trunk.
Remember, this is to add a three-dimensional effect and doesn’t require a heavy hand.
Step 5 – Erase the guidelines of your palm tree drawing
Now you have the full basic shape of your palm tree, you can carefully erase the guidelines you drew at the very start of this guide.
Before doing this first make sure you are happy with the overall proportions of your palm tree drawing, you can always go back to a previous step and repeat it if there is anything you are unhappy with.
Step 6 – Add tone to your palm tree trunk
To make that palm tree trunk look even more realistic, lightly shade in the trunk to add tone and volume. The tone in a picture is the scale of light to dark colors and is used to create depth in a drawing.
How tone is applied depends a bit on the medium that is used. For the drawing in this guide, we can easily add different tones by adding more or less pressure on our pencil. Give a different tone to the different pieces of your trunk, as illustrated in the picture below.
When adding tone, it is always best to start light and get darker rather than starting dark right away.
Another good tip to add more tone is to imagine a light source somewhere around the drawing, and add lighter and darker shades on your trunk dependent on the position of that light source.
To keep things easy, you can also just use the picture above as inspiration for where you could shade your trunk lighter or darker. In anycase, adding tone will make your palm tree drawing look more three-dimensional and realistic.
Step 7 – Darken the bottom of your trunk
You can now darken the bottom of the trunk to add further tone. Again, use the picture below as a guide of how to shade the base of the trunk using upward strokes of the pencil.
The overall effect should be a subtle gradient, starting dark at the bottom getting lighter as it goes up the trunk just as pictured
Step 8 – Draw the Outline of Your Palm Leaves
Looking at a palm tree, you’ll notice how the leaves curve out and bend down (almost like the top of a pineapple). To recreate this look, we started by drawing curved lines from the top of the trunk. For a realistic recreation of a palm tree’s leaves, draw these stem outlines in varying lengths – with the smaller lines near the bottom and the longest at the top.
You’ll also notice how all the leaves of a palm tree originate from the same central area (rather than from different branches like on most other trees). To recreate this look, you now need to draw in the small U-shaped center where all the leaves can then spill out from.
Use the picture above as a guide and lightly shade in the center once you are happy with the shape you have drawn in for the center.
Step 9 – Create the Shadow of the Palm Leaves
Before you draw your leaves in, you need to shade the top of your trunk darker to mimic the shadow cast by the palm leaves. Use the below picture for guidance on how dark to make your tone.
Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly how the leaves are going to fall just yet, we will come back to this step again once your palm tree leaves are done.
Step 10 – Darken the Edges of the Palm Tree Trunk
Sketch in a subtle darker shading to the trunk edges to add volume to your palm tree drawing. These are the subtle lines you can see on both the left and right vertical edges of the trunk in the picture below.
Step 11 – Add more details to the Texture of the Trunk
Remember that in one of the first steps of this guide, we added the basic outline for the texture of our trunk, in the form of simple horizontal lines showing some of the grooves of the trunk. Thanks to these lines, we can look at our trunk as a combination of little pieces split by each of those grooves.
Now we will darken the vertical lines in each of the pieces of our trunk. We give each of the pieces a slightly different texture and tone, as illustrated in the picture below.
Keep going with these light, upward strokes until you are happy with the overall effect. As always, it is best to start light and slow and build the darkness up as you go.
How to Draw a Palm Tree Leaf
Now it’s time to draw in the leaves. We will do this in a few easy steps.
Step 1 – Sketch the Basic Shape of the Palm Leaves
Draw rounded leaf shapes around the guidlines and make sure they are elongated, as illustrated in the picture below. Also remember to make the tips of the leaves thinner.
Don’t worry about making the leaves perfect at this point, you just need a basic outline and this will be erased later on. Remember to make each individual leaf a slightly different shape and size in order to achieve a natural look.
Step 2 – Draw the Leaflets on the Palm Leaves
Add thin lines close together on each leaf as shown in the picture below. These are the leaflets and its perfectly fine if they all look slightly different from the surrounding leaflets, because that makes them look more natural and realistic.
Palm tree leaves are slotted, and these lines will be the basis for fleshing out these leaves as we can continue with the next steps.
Step 3 – Remove the guidelines from your palm leaves
Now, carefully remove the leaf outline guidelines with an eraser, like in the picture below. This should leave you with the slotted leaf effect without the circumference line around the edges.
Step 4 – Tone the leaves and deepen the shadow on the trunk of your palm tree sketch
Now that your leaves are in place, you can use their position and shape to accurately mimic where their shadow would fall on the trunk. Add more tone to the trunk to indicate the shadow of the leaves as in the picture below.
Step 5 – Darken the stems and the leaflets
Make the stems of your palm leaves darker and more defined. Once you have darkened the leaf stems you can start adding a stronger outline to the leaf edges, too.
Remember to add more depth towards the center of the leaves by making it darker near the trunk, and to make sure the tone gets lighter as the leaves fan out to their edges. The leaves should be thin with a long triangular shape as illustrated in the picture below.
Step 6 – Do the same for the other leaves but make each of them unique
Try to make every leaf look original by using different tones and textures for them. You can use the pictures below as a rough guide.
Step 7 – Add more leaves to your palm tree drawing
Now the leaves on your tree are fully shaded and toned, it’s time to draw in the outline of some more leaves to make your palm tree look full and healthy. You can choose the places where you would like to add more leaves, there are no rules for this so you can play around and trust your judgment. Drawing the extra leaves follow the same steps as before.
In our tree we add one extra leave in the middle as illustrated below.
Step 8 – Erase all remaining guidelines from your palm tree drawing
For the final step, erase any and all remaining traces of the guidelines you drew at the start so that your palm tree is complete. This is also the right time to take stock of your overall picture, and neaten up any little slips.
Your Palm Tree Drawing Is Complete
Well done, your palm tree drawing is finished now!
If you want to add a few extra details to your palm tree drawing, there are plenty of possibilities. You could start by adding some coconuts under your leaves or expand on your palm tree drawing is by setting your palm tree on a sandy white beach or a tropical rainforest. All this will be covered in one of our next articles.
Of course, you can also color in your palm tree – as you’ve drawn it in pencil, it might be best to start your coloring with pencils too.
That’s the end of this step-by-step palm tree drawing guide, we hope you enjoyed drawing your palm tree as much as we did!