How to Properly Draw a Family Tree

by Christina Gray ; Updated December 06, 2017

In this variation, the artist makes an individual leaf for each family member.

Drawing a family tree is a simple and creative way to trace your heritage back through multiple generations. If drawing is not your strong suit, there are several family tree templates available online to either print and use directly or simply use as a reference point. For those of you looking for a crafty, fulfilling family project, however, it's easier than you might think to draw your own.

Step 1

Turn your paper sideways and use a ruler and a brown-colored pencil (if drawing a traditional tree) to outline a box about 1 inch up from the bottom center of your page. Make it large enough for you to clearly write your full name inside it with a black-colored pencil. (To be perfectly centered, you can measure 5 inches in from both sides of your paper, mark the points with a dot and then draw a box between these points.)

Step 2

Draw the first two boxes about an inch above and slightly to the left and right of your name box. With a black pencil, write above one "Mother" and above the other "Father," and then fill in the boxes with your parents' names.

Step 3

Draw four more boxes above the two you just drew, two connected to your mother's and two connected to your father's name box. Fill in the names of your four grandparents. Start making your boxes smaller and closer together, as each successive tier will have more family members to put in a smaller and smaller space. It's up to you, but most family trees are five-tiered, up to the great-great-grandparents in the very top branches.

Step 4

Draw all remaining boxes up to the desired number of tiers on both your mother's and your father's side ("Mother's Father," "Mother's Grandfather," "Mother's Great-Grandfather"), and fill them in with the names of your great- and great-great-grandparents.

Step 5

Get creative. Starting with the trunk and branches, attach all of your boxes with a brown-colored pencil and fill in whatever bits of the trunk fall outside of your boxes. Try to draw to scale; in the higher branches, the box will actually cover not only the branches but leaves as well.

Step 6

Fill in the rest of your drawing. Be as colorful and creative as you want. Use various shades of green and brown for an authentic deciduous tree, or reds, oranges and golds for a vibrant autumn tree. If desired, you can also draw in grass, sky and a background---maybe this is a tree growing on your own property, or on a hill by a farmhouse at sunset. Your imagination is the only limitation.


  • If you're worried about making mistakes or simply desire a perfect tree, lightly outline everything first with erasable pencil, because once you draw it in colored pencil, it's as set as your family history is. Also, if you are missing some family information, don't fret. It's perfectly okay to leave a box or two blank and come back to it once you've found the missing names.

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About the Author

Christina Gray is a professional writer who lives in the Los Angeles area. An alumna of New York University and the University of Pennsylvania, she began her writing career in 2003 as a contributing writer for the "Philadelphia Daily News."