How to Draw Realistic Mountains

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Mountains represent a favorite subject among artists who like to draw landscapes. With their majestic peaks reaching into the sky and their feet dipping into valleys and lakes, mountains have many interesting facets to offer the landscape artist. However, for all their advantages, they provide the artist with a number of challenges as well, such as the artist's ability to capture the mountains in proper proportion. Many artists drawing landscapes opt to use a grid, a common artist's tool that ensures everything on the picture plane winds up in its proper place

Things You'll Need

  • Mountain reference photo
  • Ruler
  • Marker
  • Illustration board
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Gather photos of mountains. Look for pictures that come in sizes larger than 8-inches by 10-inches and feature mountains with interesting looking peaks as well as plain areas that include objects like rivers, fences or wildlife. Choose one as your reference photo.

  • Mark the photo with a grid. Use a marker with a sharp point. Make the squares at least 1-inch by 1-inch.

  • Create a similar grid on your illustration board. Include the same number of squares and dimensions. Draw the lines with pencil.

  • Search the photo until you find the top point of the mountains. Count the squares until you know which one houses that point on the mountain. For instance, the top peak is four squares from the top of the picture and five squares in from the right-hand side.

  • Look on your gridded board and locate the corresponding square.

  • Draw what you see in the photo's grid square in the square on the illustration board. Recreate the lines exactly as you see them. Notice how they curve and angle within the grid square. Observe how they interplay with one another as well as the walls of the square. The better you can replicate how the lines of the mountain look in the picture, the more accurate and realistic your mountains will look.

  • Complete the rest of the drawing of the mountains using the grid in exactly the same way you did to create the first square. Work on areas like the lines that create the appearance of craggy peaks, the line of a pond at the foot of the mountain and animals such as horses in a pasture. With elements like animals, don't get overwhelmed. Draw the lines that create these and other pictorial elements in your photo in the same way you did to draw the mountains. Basic drawings start with basic lines. Draw what you see.

  • Erase the grid on the illustration board.

  • Shade the mountains using the side of your pencil's lead. Observe how the lights and darks play on the mountain peaks, in the valleys and on the shadows that are cast on the ground. Fill in these spots by laying down a light layer of shading over the whole drawing first. Once you have these spots mapped out, go back and darken the places that need it. Build up the shaded areas by moving your hand in a side-by-side or circular motion.

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References

  • "Sketchbook for the Artist"; Sarah Simblet; 2005
  • "How to Draw Lifelike Portraits from Photographs"; Lee Hammond; 1995
  • "An Illustrated Life"; Danny Gregory; 2008
  • "Keys to Drawing"; Bert Dodson; 1985
  • Diane Wright Fine Art: Drawing Landscapes
  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
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