How to draw realistic landscapes

No matter your skill level, drawing realistic landscapes can be an incredibly satisfying way to express your creativity. Capture the beauty of a distant mountain range or recreate the unique geology of a particular region in brilliant detail–it’s all up to you.

This comprehensive guide’ll walk you through everything from selecting materials to creating stunning details that bring landscapes to life.

Read on for expert tips and tricks guaranteed to hone your skillset and have you painting picturesque views with confidence in no time.

Choose a reference photo to use as your guide 

When drawing realistic landscapes, it’s important to have a reference photo. This will ensure that your drawings are anatomically accurate and that the light and shadows are in the right places. 

If you’re using a real-life scene, take multiple photos from various angles to see the landscape’s highlights and shadows. Alternatively, select one with good resolution using a digital image.

Understand the basics of perspective and composition 

Creating realistic landscapes requires an understanding of perspective and composition. Perspective refers to the relationship between objects in a scene, while composition focuses on the arrangement of elements in an image. Learning how to use perspective and composition can dramatically improve your landscape drawings.

Perspective is especially important for creating depth in your landscape drawings. Using a one-point or two-point perspective can help create the illusion of depth and distance while understanding how to draw overlapping shapes and objects gives images a sense of realism.

Composition is used to make your landscapes visually appealing. Placing interesting elements in the foreground or background, using leading lines to direct the viewer’s eye, and balancing light and dark elements are all techniques that can be used to make your landscape drawings more aesthetically pleasing.

Sketch the main elements of your landscape onto the paper 

It is important to make sure you draw a light sketch first, as it is easy to erase and adjust if needed. To start, draw the horizon line to give you an idea of where the sky and land meet. 

Then draw a few of the main features, such as mountains or forests. Ensure that your front point lines up with the line on your horizon to ensure consistency in your landscape.

Work in layers

When drawing a realistic landscape, it is important to work in layers. Start by sketching the background and then proceed into the foreground. Working in layers makes creating depth and detail in your artwork easier.

Start with the horizon line of your landscape. This will provide a frame for your drawing, allowing you to easily visualize how much sky and ground you will include. From there, you can sketch the basic shapes of trees, mountains, water, etc., in your landscape.

Once you have sketched out your background elements’ general shapes and outlines, it’s time to refine them with more detailed line work. You can use a variety of pencil strokes to create texture on these elements. This will bring your landscape to life and give it a more realistic look.

Now, move onto the foreground of your drawing by sketching the details of trees, buildings, or people in your landscape. Be sure to pay close attention to the shadows and highlights that create depth in each element. These small details will help make your landscape look more believable.

Finally, you can add the colors and tones that bring your landscape to life. Choose a range of subtle color harmonies to create an inviting atmosphere for your drawing. Once you are happy with the overall look of your drawing, go ahead and add some finishing touches for extra realism.

By working in layers and paying attention to detail, you can create a realistic landscape drawing that looks truly stunning.

With some practice and dedication, anyone can become an expert landscape artist.

Use hatching and cross-hatching techniques to create shadows and depth 

Creating shadows and depth is one of the most important steps in creating a realistic landscape. To do this, use hatching or cross-hatching techniques. Hatching involves drawing parallel lines that run in one direction to create the illusion of a shadow. 

Cross-hatching is the same technique but involves drawing two parallel lines at right angles. Both techniques can be used to create the effect of shadows and depth in your artwork.

Add details

Adding details like trees, plants, rocks, and other elements that give your landscape character is important when drawing realistic landscapes. Start by sketching the basic outlines of your landscape, then use a pencil to start adding in the details. 

For trees, you can draw individual branches and leaves or use stippling (dots) and hatching (lines) to create the texture of bark and foliage. When drawing plants, you can use shading techniques like h and cross-hatching to add shadows and highlights for a more realistic look. 

Rocks require patience, but practice allows you to draw them in great detail. Make sure to include details such as cracks, ridges, and bumps for an even better effect. 

Once you have the basic shapes of trees, plants, and rocks, you can add other elements, such as buildings, roads, and people, to further enhance your landscape. 


How do you draw realistic drawings for beginners?

If you are a beginner, the best way to create realistic drawings is to start with basic shapes and refine your drawing by adding details. To help you get started, use reference photos or tutorials as guides.

How do you start drawing landscapes?

Begin by choosing a reference photo to use as your guide. Then, sketch the main elements of your landscape onto the paper and understand the basics of perspective and composition. After that, you can add details such as trees, plants, rocks, etc., to give it character. Use hatching and cross-hatching techniques to add shadows to create depth in your drawing. Finally, work in layers and start with the background before moving into the foreground.

How do you draw a good landscape?

A good landscape drawing starts with a good reference photo and an understanding of the basics of perspective and composition. After sketching out your landscape, use hatching and cross-hatching techniques to create shadows and depth. Add details such as trees, plants, rocks, etc., to give it character.

How do I make a drawing look realistic?

To make a drawing look realistic, you must pay attention to details. Start with basic shapes and add elements such as shadows or highlights for depth. Use hatching and cross-hatching techniques to create texture and volume in your drawings. Finally, you can also use reference photos or tutorials as guides.

How can I improve my realistic art?

To improve your realistic art, focus on refining the details of your drawings. Pay attention to perspective and composition when sketching out your landscapes. Use hatching and cross-hatching techniques to create shadows and depth. 


Drawing realistic landscapes is an impressive and achievable task, and with just a few simple steps, you can transform your practice into professional artwork. Scanning or taking reference photos as your guide is the best place to start. 

Working in layers from background to foreground will ensure all of the landscape’s parts are equal in weight and complexity. Using hatching and cross-hatching techniques creates shadows and depth while adding details such as trees, plants, and rocks can give it more character.

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