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Architecture How-To Series: Magnolia & Crape Myrtle Trees

Randy Hunter | May 8, 2017

IDrawing beautiful trees with Copic Markers is easier than you think. In this tutorial series, Randy Hunter will show you how he uses Copic Sketch Markers to create a beautiful Magnolia and Crape Myrtle trees. 

Trees come in all sizes, shapes, and colors and the Magnolia and Crape Myrtle are perfect examples of that sentiment. Even within these two species alone you will find a lot of variety. The Magnolia is often thought of as a rather small landscaping type of tree with a beautiful pinkish flowering, but these trees can actually grow as tall as 90 feet and as wide as 40 feet making them excellent shade trees.

The Crape Myrtle is often used as a shrub in landscaped gardens, or in planting strips along a roadway but these brightly flowered beauties can also grow quite large themselves and produce flowers that are white, pink, red, purple, and every shade in between.

When you need to brighten up your artwork, look no further than these two examples.

Tools of the Trade 

The images below show all of the colors I used for each tree in this tutorial. The paper is X-Press It Blending Card.


The Technique

If you followed along with some of my previous tutorials, the techniques we’ll use here are quite similar with just a slight variation when we get to the Myrtle.

For the trunk of each tree, I laid down a base layer of W0. I like to use the W0 to begin almost every drawing I do, whether it’s a tree, building, or portrait. It allows for an easy, quick sketch to help map out your drawing and it easily vanishes as you continue to layer more colors on top of it. I used a range of warm grays, up to W6, to blend the trunk and branches of the trees.


For the leaves of the trees, I used a dabbing technique on the Magnolia and sort of a “scribble” dabbing on the Crape Myrtle. Essentially, instead of individual dabs, I tended to keep the very tip of my marker on the paper as I moved from dab to dab. What this did was filled in the gaps of white on the paper while still creating a textured look for the leaves. The Myrtle has a thick growth of leaves, and not much light shines through so I wanted to fill out the canopy as much as possible and in a quick fashion.


The Magnolia Tree

The Magnolia tree, in terms of its structure, kind of looks like someone took the top off of a larger deciduous tree and re-planted it. For the most part there is no trunk, or at the very least a very short one before a few thicker branches spread out and upward. One rule of thumb that will leave you with a successful drawing of a tree nearly every time is that the branches, as they move away from the ground and outward from the center of the tree, become smaller and smaller.


The Crape Myrtle 

The Crape Myrtle’s base consists of a grouping of thin rigid stems that act together to create a sturdy trunk “system” for the tree. As this system moves upward into the sky, they flow outward into a “vase” shape. The flowering and leaves of the Crape Myrtle create a density that hides most of the branches.


If you have any questions or comments about this tutorial, please leave them in the comments section below. I love hearing feedback, especially when it involves helping you become a better COPIC Artist! 

Also, if you have requests for which type of trees you would like to see me draw in the future, let me know. Thank you!

If you enjoyed this tutorial, check out Randy's other blog posts on creating realistic wood grain, grass or brick texture. Or if you're looking to make more trees Randy has tutorial on how to draw Pine, Maple and Fir trees!


Topics: Illustration, Copic

Randy Hunter
Randy Hunter on May 8, 2017

Randy Hunter is an Associate Architect in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as well as a Custom Art Business Owner. His primary subject matter includes both color and black and white commissioned portraits as well as landscapes and architectural illustration. Randy received his Master of Architecture and Master of Business Administration from Kent State University.