This paper addresses tree crown envelope shape modeling from the perspective of optical passive remote sensing. The aims are 1) to review the specific requirements of crown shape models and ground measurement techniques in optical remote sensing, and 2) to present preliminary results from empirical, parametric crown shape and volume modeling of Scots pine and Norway spruce applicable in Finland. Results indicated that the basic dimensions (maximum radius, its height and crown length) of tree crowns were better predicted for pines, but the profile shape of the upper part of the crowns varied more than in spruce. Pine crowns were also slightly less concave than spruce crowns. No regularities were observed concerning the lower part of the crowns. The asymmetry of crowns increased as a function of tree age for both species, spruce crowns being more asymmetric than pine crowns. A comparison of measured crown volume with several simple geometrical crown shape envelopes showed that using a cone as a crown shape model for Scots pine and Norway spruce underestimates crown volume most severely. Other crown envelope shape models (e.g. ellipsoids) rendered crown volumes closer to the measured volume and did not differ considerably from each other.