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How to Draw a River

Easy, step by step River drawing tutorial
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river is a flowing body of water. Rivers of different sizes go by many names – stream, creek, brook, rivulet, rill, run, burn, and beck, to name a few. Rivers often begin in mountainous areas and flow into larger bodies of water, such as lakes or seas. Some of the most famous rivers in the world include the Nile River in Egypt, on the African continent; the Mississippi River in the United States, North America; and the Amazon River in Brazil, South America.

Rivers are vital to life because they provide an ample supply of fresh water. Since antiquity, settlements and cities often sprang up near rivers. Rivers were also sources of food, including fish. Ancient mythologies often included river gods and goddesses, who were called upon in times of drought.

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Rivers also play a role in modern culture. Many aspects of life can be compared to a river. For example, the song “The Rose” opens with the words “Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed.” In the Disney film Pocahontas (1995), a bend in the river is used to represent the unknown future and major decisions to be faced in the song “Just Around the River Bend.”

Would you like to draw a landscape featuring a flowing river? Doing so is easier than ever with the help of this simple, step-by-step drawing tutorial. All you will need is a pencil and a sheet of paper. You may also wish to employ crayons, markers, colored pencils, or paints to shade your finished drawing.

In each step of this drawing guide, you will be given both an illustration and explanatory text. Pay special attention to the highlighted blue lines in each illustration; these indicate new lines to be added to your drawing.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Snowflake, Moon, and Rain.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing a River

River drawing - step 1
How to Draw River Step 01

1. To begin, outline one side of the riverbank. Enclose a shape along one side of the paper using a long, curved line. Note how the shape peaks at the top, indicating a hill or mountain.

River drawing - step 2
How to Draw River Step 02

2. Draw the riverbank on the opposite side. Again, enclose an irregular shape along the edge of the drawing using a long, curved line.

River drawing - step 3
How to Draw River Step 03

3. Detail the riverbank with rocks of various sizes. For each rock, enclose an irregular shape using a curved line. Also, draw a curved line between the two sides of the riverbank, indicating the river’s distant horizon.

River drawing - step 4
How to Draw River Step 04

4. Add the detail of rocks to the opposite riverbank. For each rock, enclose an irregular shape using a curved line. Draw some rocks larger than others.

River drawing - step 5
How to Draw River Step 05

5. Begin to draw the mountains in the background. To do this, draw a curved, bumpy line from the edge of your drawing to the river’s horizon, parallel to the slope of the hill drawn previously.

River drawing - step 6
How to Draw River Step 06

6. Draw a curved line across the top of the sketch, following the curve of the hills already drawn. This indicates the mountain range in the distance.

River drawing - step 7
How to Draw River Step 07

7. Give life to your river by adding rippling details of flowing water. To do this, draw curved and wavy lines of various sizes along the length of the river. Note how curved lines are also drawn in a circular pattern around rocks located in the water.

River drawing - step 8
How to Draw River Step 08

8. Draw another small mountain straddling the river’s horizon, using a curved line.

River drawing - step 9
How to Draw River Step 09

9. Add texture to the mountains. Draw jagged, curved lines extending diagonally down the mountains’ slopes.

Complete River drawing
How to Draw River Step 10

10. Color your river landscape. Will you draw purple mountain majesties, barren brown or grey Rockies, or misty green Smokey Mountains? Perhaps you prefer snow covered Alps. Be creative, because the choice is yours.

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The Complete River Drawing Tutorial in One Image

How to draw: River - all drawing steps
How to Draw a River - Really Easy Drawing Tutorial

Printable Drawing Tutorial


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