Painting Trees With A Fan Brush

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How To Paint Silhouette Trees With A Fan Brush (With Video)

Hello artist friends! I feel inspired to write this post because a fan brush is such a handy tool if you would like to paint pine trees in you acrylic paintings! This post specifically demonstrates how to paint silhouette trees.

You can also grab your flat or bright brush to paint these kinds of trees. But actually, I sometimes like to grab the fan brush because it gives a different unique effect!

There’s so many different kinds of paintings you can do with tree silhouettes! You can paint a sunset sky first and then do silhouette trees. Then add some water reflecting underneath. You can also paint a galaxy sky and then paint the trees in front of the galaxy sky! Or…I actually like the simplicity of the pure black trees against a white canvas.

Also a bonus – If you are attempting to paint my American Flag Sky painting soon or have painted it but struggled with the trees, I hope this mini demo will help!

I recommend that you practice this technique on several sheets of paper first. It takes a bit to “calibrate” with the brush and get the hang of it. But when you figure out the technique, it’s really quite addicting!

Now Let’s Paint Those Happy Trees!


This post contains a few affiliate links. 

What You’ll Need

    • Fan Brush 
    • Tiny Detail Brush (Any round brush labeled #0 or smaller -I’m using the “0” in this set.
    • Practice Paper or Canvas Paper.
    • Black Paint, preferably high flow. I’m actually using Apple Barrel black for this demonstration pictures and it was not thinned out with water.  In the video, I used BASICS “Mars Black” that was thinned with a bit of water. 


Video (View Also on YouTube)


Picture Steps & Instructions

1. Use A Round Brush to Draw A Trunk

Using a very tiny round brush, paint a vertical line to represent the trunk of the tree. I recommend watering down the black just a bit to help the flow. I am using Apple Barrel Black craft paint for this demo so it didn’t need to be watered down. 


2. Load Your Fan Brush

When I load my fan brush, the bristles tend to clump together. Try stroking the brush on the palette a bit to get the fan bristles to spread like a fan! 


3. Stamp the tips from top to bottom

Start at the top of that vertical line. Stamp just lightly to create a thin set of branches. To do this, I only used the middle area of the fan brush and not the left and right sides. Also, I am stamping just the tip of the bristles and not all the bristles. 


4. Work your way down in zig-zag motion forming the shape of a pine tree.

As you work your way down, keep stamping the brush left and right in a zig-zag motion. Apply more pressure to the brush to make these branches thicker, heavier and wider forming the shape of a pine tree.

5. Keep working your way down, widening the shape. 

As you keep “zig-zagging” your way down, make your tree form a wider shape on the bottom. I leave a space for the trunk on the bottom too. 


6. Vary the heights and shape of the trees.

If you’re painting a treeline silhouette, try varying the heights of the trees for a more natural look. Also, you can vary the shape (thin and thick) and the amount of white space showing. 


7. Use the tiny round to add more details on the top

If you “goofed” on the first step and couldn’t get the branches to be thin enough, try using a tiny detail brush to add the smaller branches on the top of the tree. 

8. Practice Practice Practice!

This technique is tricky at first but I mentioned earlier that you’ll need to practice it a bit with that fan brush. To paint the bottom line, I used a larger round brush. 


And that’s it! Keep practicing and you’ll be an expert at painting those “Happy Silhouette Trees”!

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10 Replies to “Painting Trees With A Fan Brush”

    I want to learn this !
    I can’t put a straight line on a paper or canvas without it becoming skewed. In fact, I can’t draw or paint at all. This is very easy, I hope. Thanks for the inspiration and the video, it will be used diligently. I’m also not good on English, but you made it very easy to understand. Thank you, I’m looking forward to testing the technique. Regards Lone Vibeke Jensen, in Denmark ❤️

    1. Hi Jo! I like to “stipple” leaves with a round brush. If I’m doing fall, I’ll paint little dots with red and yellow or various greens for non-fall. I can probably put a tutorial out for this soon!

  2. Thank you so much for this awesome video tutorial! I can’t wait to try it……now where is my fan brush- that I have never used?!!

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