Painting sky with watercolours
13. February 2022Back to blog
Sky is a funny thing – it’s ever changing, taking on countless shapes and colours, and playing different roles in paintings too – it can be your magnificent lead, or a humble extra.
Today we are here to teach you how to paint a beautiful sky and clouds using watercolours with a simple, step by step guide.
But first, we have some useful tips to share:
- Use multiple colours in your sky. Don’t limit yourself to blues – use reds and yellows as well to help balance the warm and cool tones.
- When using the “wet on wet” technique to paint clouds, keep in mind that the colours will lighten as they dry.
- Keep in mind that the closer you go to the horizon, the warmer and lighter the sky appears to be.
- Don’t forget about perspective when painting clouds and other three-dimensional objects and add highlights and shadows to match the direction the light is coming from.
- The clouds will look more realistic if you combine sharp and soft contours.
Now let’s get to work!
Wet the paper and wait for it to absorb some of the water. A wet but not glossy surface is ideal.
Now use some yellow (diluted with water) to make a few large brush strokes outlining the position of the clouds. Drawing them with a pencil would have been probably easier, but the empty canvas leaves a lot of space for improvisation. If you do decide to outline them in pencil, try to keep the lines as light as possible.
You can also use watercolour pencils to outline the clouds – this way, any lines you draw will disappear as soon as you cover them with paint.
Grab some cobalt blue and start filling in the space above the clouds. Use the flat edge of the brush to keep the strokes light and natural.
Pay attention to your paper – if it’s too dry, the result will look too hard and sharp. Don’t worry, however – you can always use a wet brush to soften things and blur any sharp transitions.
Continue painting the blue sky, moving under the clouds and using more diluted paint to represent the shapes of clouds far away on the horizon.
Now, while the paper is still wet where the clouds are, you can add some shadows with a few light strokes, mixing cobalt blue and cadmium red together to achieve a darker, purplish shade.
Keep adding shadows and softening the outlines using the flat side of the brush. Use swift, broad strokes to cover the remaining sky areas with a mix of cobalt blue and Naples yellow.
Once the sky is finished, add some details to the foreground to make the painting look finished and complete.
That’s it – just look at that pretty landscape painting you just made! If you enjoyed the process and want to learn more about drawing and painting landscapes and nature, we invite you to join our landscape painting course and see what you can do with coloured pencils, pastels, watercolours, and oil paints!