The Trainer runs a hard-core Minuteman unit in the north woods of the upper Midwest. His boys (sorry, no girls) run winter survival exercises routinely in the cold and deep snow. They do not use tents, but rather tarp shelters. Tarps are preferable to tents for many reasons -- and in all seasons. They are lighter and less bulky than tents, can be used as a sunshade in warm weather or to provide the barrier to the elements in cold, rain or snow. Tarps are much faster to pitch and take down than tents and, most importantly, they are lighter.
The encyclopedia on tarp shelters by the Aussie David B. MacPherson is found here in pdf, and here in html, both courtesy of the Equipped to Survive website. From their introduction:
This document courtesy of David B. Macpherson provides an excellent introduction to the subject of tarp shelters. He provides a wealth of valuable and useful information on their use and construction, covering everything from the most basic immediate action shelter to sophisticated structures.
David notes that this is a work in progress and we encourage those with suggestions to contact David at the email listed at the bottom of the document. Please note that David is from Australia and that should explain some of the spelling and nomenclature differences that will be noticeable to U.S. readers.
Some designs in the document are far more practical than others, especially for use in the wilderness. David has included as many as he could for the sake of completeness, even if some are impractical in survival situations.
David noted when submitting this document, "I make mention in the document that Tarp-shelters have limits to how much bad weather they can take. I believe that anyone wanting to use ANY of these designs should try them out in a 'safe' environment first, rather than blindly rely on them (sight unseen/unevaluated) in a survival or wilderness situation."
He also commented, "some of these designs will work better depending on the type of tarp being used. Canvas, nylon, poly-tarp, each fabric type has its own special abilities and drawbacks."
Excellent illustrated tutorials on bashas can be found here at WoodcraftWanderings.org and here and here at OutdoorIdiots.
My suggestion would be to start at WoodcraftWanderings and OutdoorIdiots, print out the tutorials and then go to MacPherson's encyclopedia for further ideas.
Now the biggest pain with tarp shelters is the rope work (knots and tensioning) necessary to pitch them. Here is the modern solution to that:
Again from the Trainer, these come highly recommended. Meet the NiteIze, available from REI for $2.50 each, these little boogers make pitching and taking down a tarp shelter a breeze.
Here's the Nite Ize company page: http://www.niteize.com/pages/hardware