How to Draw Mind Numbingly Beautiful Trees

The best place to go online for a complete rundown on how to draw trees is Squidoo's Tutorial on How to Draw Trees. It goes through the basic principles, the key artists to look at, and some books for further information.

He starts with basic sketches like this one.

And then gets into elaborate trees like this.

He shows Leighton's Lemon Tree, highlighted as the most beautiful tree ever drawn. As well as showing examples from other artists, such as Jan Wijnants

Instead of repeating such a brilliant tutorial, what I have is a series of images to inspire and hopefully push you to up your game when drawing trees. At the end are some places to go for photo reference, as well as others' tutorials littered throughout.

Here's some inspiration of beautifully rendered trees that one up reality.
Concept art for Dreamfall.

This piece, due to it's quick nature, shows the process of how to set up the initial lines of laying in good trees.

Two works by Alex Toth, untouchable works of genius.
They demonstrate just how far we all have to work towards.
Midsummer by Willow Arlenea.

Something different then the usual tree, experimenting with the idea of spirituality.

Now on to the classics.
The 6 Images below are all by Maxfield Parrish.


Jason and the Talking Oak

Girl with Elves

Dreaming October


Birches in Winter
Tree Spirit by James Fodor.

Cover to Stardust by Charles Vess

Companion to the Moon by Charles Vess
A tutorial by Charles Vess on how he painted the image above.
Charles Vess at Comicon surrounded by his beautiful tree paintings.
The Tree Girl by Virginia Lee (inspired Mythic Journeys short, voice acting by Tim Curry, with art by Brian Froud. Go check it out.)
Little Red Riding Hood by Arthur Rackham

He's the undisputed master of tree illustrations in the world of fantasy. The term 'Rackham Tree' is a recognizable description of any gnarled oak or the ilk.

You can never have too many Rackham Trees.
I was inspired to write this after reading an article in the NYT about this 600 year old tree getting cut down:
Here's a few photographs of trees to inspire you to go shoot some of your own for reference:
Major Oak from Garden Action.

Holm Oak by Rory Francis

Oak Tree by Bobby8

By Chris 9, posted on a fantastic Flickr thread on Indian trees.
Most tree tutorials look like this simple tutorial on drawing trees, and while that might be enough for those first getting started, it's not enough to understand their real beauty. It doesn't capture the spirit of the tree.

Some bonus links:
For a wonderful gallery of tree photography with artful nudes, head to Tree Girl / Tree Spirit.
To get what a specific tree/plant looks like if google is not getting the job done, go to ForestryImages.