3 ways to paint clouds

3 ways to paint clouds
3 ways to paint clouds

It can be difficult to paint clouds if you don't know the right technique. If done badly, clouds can appear heavy. We must proceed with subtlety. Also, how you should go about it depends on the type of paint you are using. In this article, you will learn techniques for painting clouds in acrylics, watercolors, and oils.


Method 1 of 3: paint clouds with acrylics

Paint Clouds Step 1

Step 1. Start by making the bottom

Whether you're making a gradient blue sky or a sunrise, paint the background before adding the clouds.

Paint Clouds Step 2

Step 2. Start with a dry brush

In other words, do not wet the brush before using it. Put white paint on your palette. Take some white paint with your brush.

Paint Clouds Step 3

Step 3. Decide where you want to make the clouds

You can paint a landscape with clouds only at the top or the clouds can fill the whole composition.

Paint Clouds Step 4

Step 4. Apply the white paint in light brush strokes

Make slightly curved dabs of white on the canvas. Do not press hard.

Paint Clouds Step 5

Step 5. Push the limits

Extend the edges of the clouds outward with your brush. Try painting the edges when you start to run out of paint. This technique will give the clouds softer, faded edges.

Paint Clouds Step 6

Step 6. Wait until the white is dry

This will make it easier to add shadows below.

Paint Clouds Step 7

Step 7. Add shadows

Prepare some gray for the shadows. You can make a gray of a dark purple tone by mixing dark blue, pink, and reddish brown. You can also compose your own shade of gray.

Paint Clouds Step 8

Step 8. Use another dry brush

Take a tiny bit of gray with the brush. Remove excess paint. Use light strokes on the lower part of the clouds to give them depth.

Paint Clouds Step 9

Step 9. Make clouds smaller near the horizon

Distant objects appear smaller so make the clouds smaller and blurrier the closer you get to the horizon. To make them blurry, put even less paint on the brush when painting them.

Method 2 of 3: Paint clouds with watercolors

Paint Clouds Step 10

Step 1. Make sure there is enough paint in your mixture

The paint will be lighter when it dries so the color should be a little more intense than it is natural when you start painting.

Paint Clouds Step 11

Step 2. Lightly dampen the paper

Use a paintbrush to run clean water over the surface of the paper so that it is slightly damp.

Paint Clouds Step 12

Step 3. Add a little yellow ocher at the bottom

Paint a very light layer of yellow ocher at the bottom of the sky.

Paint Clouds Step 13

Step 4. Load your brush with ultramarine blue and water

The paint should be quite dark. Apply a coat to the top of the sheet.

Paint Clouds Step 14

Step 5. Paint a lighter strip below the first one

Pick up more water and ultramarine blue with your brush. Paint below the top color so that the two bands overlap. This second band should be lighter than the first.

Paint Clouds Step 15

Step 6. Continue adding lighter and lighter bands

Your goal is to create a gradient all the way to the bottom layer. This will consist of a mixture of light yellow and a little light blue, since you have already painted the lower part of the sky in yellow ocher.

Paint Clouds Step 16

Step 7. Dry your brush

Clean the brush in water and dry it with paper towels.

Paint Clouds Step 17

Step 8. Roll the brush across the sky

The dry brush will pick up the paint on the sheet, leaving white areas for the clouds. You can bend the brush slightly while rolling it to create the shape of the clouds.

Paint Clouds Step 18

Step 9. Dry the brush again

You need to dry the brush again between each cloud. Otherwise, the brush will leave paint on the paper rather than absorbing it.

Paint Clouds Step 19

Step 10. Add gray

Use an intense gray (for example a mixture of red and ultramarine blue) which you apply to the lower part of one side of the cloud. Leave the other side blank to show where the light is coming from.

Paint Clouds Step 20

Step 11. Think about working quickly

Watercolors dry quickly so you have to work quickly to achieve this effect.

Method 3 of 3: paint clouds in oil

Paint Clouds Step 21

Step 1. Create a background

Depending on the time of day in your composition, you can choose a light blue or a dark grayish purple. Paint the entire background in large, even strokes.

Paint Clouds Step 22

Step 2. Let the paint dry

If you don't let it dry, the background color will end up in the clouds.

Paint Clouds Step 23

Step 3. Sketch the clouds

Use a dry paintbrush to add some white and black paint to the color used for the background. Quickly paint the basic cloud shape with this brush.

Paint Clouds Step 24

Step 4. Layer lighter colors over the clouds

Create shapes with the lighter colors. Make circular movements to achieve the shape of the clouds.

For lighter colors, add white to the base color as you work

Paint Clouds Step 25

Step 5. Add spots of the background color

If you want the clouds to be quite distinct, you can add areas of the background color around them.

Paint Clouds Step 26

Step 6. Add cream highlights

Highlights shouldn't stand out too much from other colors, so use off-white or cream paint. Apply it with light touches around the shapes you created previously to enhance the top of the clouds.


  • Don't use too much paint when painting the clouds.
  • Make small circular motions. You will get a better effect than with large movements.

Popular by topic