Woodland Animal Tree Ornaments

Woodland Animal Tree Ornaments main article image
Posted on October 28, 2021 by Wendy Boulay

I absolutely adore those little woodland animals that you often see around the internet! Not only are they cute, but they also can be used on a multitude of different projects such as tumblers, shirts, canvas, and of course – ornaments!

For this tutorial, you don’t need to be an artist (thank goodness, because I most certainly am not one!) all you need are a few materials and supplies…and an afternoon for crafting!

Woodland Animal Tree Ornaments

  • Supplies
  • Preparing the Wood Slices
    • Cutting & Screw Eyes
    • Sanding
  • Preparing to Paint
    • Apply the Gesso
    • Draw the Outline
    • Painting
  • Finishing
    • Sealing (optional)
    • Adding the String

Supplies Needed

  • Wood round slices
  • Eye screws or a drill with 5/32 bit 
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Acrylic gesso and paints 
  • Paintbrushes
  • Dotting tool (optional)
  • Pencil
  • Varathane Diamond Wood Finish (optional)
  • Twine, string, ribbon, or ornament hooks

Preparing the Wood Slices

Cutting & Screw Eyes

If you have previously purchased some pre-cut wood slices then you can go ahead and skip this step. However, if you are like me and love everything DIY – and saving money in the process, you can cut your own wood slices using a fallen branch!

I am lucky that my husband has a whole shed full of handy tools, including a table saw, that is perfect for cutting even slices off of my apple branch! 

Just be careful not to make them too thick or they will weigh down the Christmas tree branches; nor too thin because you will risk easy breakage. I made my slices to be approximately 1 cm thick for a 5.5 cm diameter slice.

wood slices

For the hole in which you will attach your string or hook, I prefer to use eye screws. I find that by using these, they don’t interfere with your artwork and are much more pleasing to the “eye” (pun intended) 😉

Take your eye screw and twist them by hand into the side of the slice. For added security, remove it, add a drop of glue, and screw it back in.

wood slices with screw eyes

If you opt to use a drill instead, you will want to make a small hole near the top of the slice for your string or hook. Using a 5/32 bit, slowly drill the hole until it pokes through the other side. Keep in mind that this will be on the face of your artwork – so it’s important to do this before you make your ornaments so that you can plan the design placement accordingly.

  • 👉 Tool Tip: Use a scrap piece of wood underneath the wood slice while you are drilling. This will protect the surface you are working on and help to keep the slice stable as you use the tool.


I recommend giving the surface that you plan to paint a light pre-sanding. This will help to ensure that your gesso and paint go on seamlessly, as well as reduce the risk of chipping later on.

Using very fine grit sandpaper, smooth out any excessive roughness – in a circular motion. I purchased these hand sanders from Amazon that are the perfect size and shape for this project.

hand sanders

Preparing to Paint

Apply the Gesso

When it comes to painting on natural wood, I like to prepare the surface by first using Gesso. Gesso looks like white paint, however, it dries much harder allowing the surface to accept the paint more evenly and maintain vibrancy. I highly recommend using it, however, this is optional.

Using a small paintbrush, apply a thin layer of gesso to one side of the wood slice. Allow it to dry, then add one more coat. 

gesso on wood slice

After both coats are completely dry, give one more light sanding to remove any brushstrokes, then repeat the process for the other side.

Drawing the Outline

Using a pencil to first draw your paint lines is the key to these woodland animal faces – especially if you, like me, are not an artist! The lines help you to determine the face shape, as well as the color splits. I created mine as follows:


drawing fox lines


drawing deer lines

My lines aren’t perfect, but once they are all painted they will look great! Feel free to change the lines and create your own version.


Now that you have your lines drawn, it’s time for painting! For the fox, I used a blend of orange, brown, and white. For the deer, I used brown, white, and a dab of yellow. Have some fun experimenting with colors – but if you are a beginner “blender” like I am, you can google some charts for mixing up the colors to help you get the one that you want.

To begin, paint the lightest colors first, then, once that is dry, paint in the darker colors.

painting steps

When it’s dry, add on a second coat. Once again, let it dry for a couple of hours before adding the facial details.

painted wood slices

When all of your ornaments are thoroughly dry, you can use a very small paintbrush to add on some cute eyes and a nose.

  • 👉 Precision Tip: Using a small paintbrush works just fine, but if you are a little shaky like I am, you can also use a dotting tool! This helps to create perfect little circles!

painted fox face

When your design is completely dry, you can flip the ornaments over and paint on a pattern for the back!

I kept it simple and used the same design for both the fox and the deer.

brown and beige painted ornament

Again, apply two coats and allow to dry.


Sealing (optional)

When you are sure that all of the paint has fully dried, you can add on a coat of Varathane Diamond Wood Finish. While this is a completely optional step, this coat of seal will help to protect the paint from ever chipping off. Plus, if you use the glossy finish, it adds a gorgeous shiny appearance that looks so lovely!

applying seal to wood slice

Adding the String

When your ornaments are finished, all that’s left to do is to add on your string or hook so that you can attach it to your Christmas tree! You can even add on a little bow to complete the look! I love the rustic look of twine – it’s simple but oh so pretty! 🎀🦌🦊

Keep on Crafting! 💖

woodland animal tree ornaments on glitter background

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1 Comment

October 30, 2021

These are so cute! I have to try this for my tree this year

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