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How to Draw a Battlefield

Updated April 17, 2017

Battlefields are large areas of land on which two opposing armies wage war. Some of the most horrific battlefields were those in Europe during the first World War. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers were killed in muddy terrain between trenches which were often protected by several rows of barbed wire. Water-filled bomb craters dotted the entire area and trees were reduced to shredded trunks. Almost no ground was gained by either side as soldiers attacked and counter-attacked each other for years.

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  1. Choose a number of vintage images taken of the battlefields of Europe from the first world war. Select one image or combine elements from several images to design the composition of your drawing. Include images of trenches, barbed wire, craters and remnants of trees. Decide if you want to show soldiers in the trenches or just the battlefield, as in this example.

  2. Place the images beside you as you begin to outline the elements of your drawing. Start with the background, perhaps showing a huge field of mud, pockmarked with waterlogged craters as far as the eye can see. Draw a few tree stumps with the branches ripped off near the trunk. Use a curled line to indicate rolled barbed wire in the distance as well as the supporting wooden posts.

  3. Work your way forward with an increasing level of detail applied to the objects. Indicate fallen soldiers at some distance with simple lines to outline their bodies. Focus on detailing the prominent features of the mud and the craters by referring to your reference images.

  4. Shade the dark areas in your drawing with the side edge of the pencil tip. Move it in a circular motion to shade in darker areas.

  5. Blend in areas with a small cloth using different levels of shading to create both smoke effects and depth. Rub the cloth over the detailed background to create the haze.

  6. Preserve the highlights on the water to create the effect of a sheen on the surface. Create a foggy haze in the distance through blending and a stronger contrast as you move forward.

  7. Add details immediately in front, such as a post with barbed wire, through which the battlefield can be seen. Add shading to the wood, the trees and the mud in front. Continue to detail over the shading until it looks realistic to complete the drawing.

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About the Author

Rod Kuster has been a writer and editor since 1995. His work has been published in "Computer Magazine," "Boom Magazine" and Shock Media. Kuster holds a B.A. in international development studies from the University of Dalhousie.

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