View Full Version : How to paint these Clouds??

10-17-2006, 10:16 AM
I posted this in landscape also

Hi all

I wonder if anyone could show how to paint these types of clouds in Acrylics... I can never get it right.. Always looks like the darks and lights are pasted on.. I would like to get that dark and light fluffy look..And the layering of the clouds..
Watercolor and/or Acrylics would be nice.

Can anyone help.??

Thanks in advance.

Here is the picture.

10-17-2006, 10:40 AM

I don't quite remember how I do this, but I usually start with the lightest color. Then, I would use a combination of cerulean blue and burnt umber for the shadows. You can also add a little red for the areas that are pinker/purpler than others. You would layer and blend the colors in the same way as you would any other object. I often use a large, round brush.

It's funny, I don't usually remember how exactly I mix colors together, I just know it when I find a combination that works. On my website, there's a painting called "Clark Valley" that has similar clouds and I believe I used that color combination. I used less of the brown in some spots and more of the blue in others.

I hope this helps. I'm not that great at explaining techniques.

10-17-2006, 10:53 AM
I wish I could paint clouds like that!!

Charlie's Mum
10-17-2006, 10:54 AM
Hi Johnnie - you'd probably need to arrive at your own colour combo, depending on what's available to you!
I'd start with the lightest colour too - and in acrylics, I use old, splayed brushes so no hard edges appear - and just dab and stab and squish around!
It helps if you can keep the paint workable with a spray sometimes - but doesn't matter - just build up the layers of dabs and colours ..... working out your shade areas.
The beauty of acrylics is that it'll always cover over if you do over-do something!

In w/colour, I'd use wet in wet to allow the paint to bleed to give the feathering ....... but also wet on dry, again building up the layers ....... all a matter of practice! :D

10-17-2006, 11:34 AM
Johnny when I am doing this sort of clouds in acrylic I paint on the background completely covering the sky and then mix the gray color and scrub (almost no paint on the brush) with the side of a bristle brush. This gives a nice feathered edge if you sort of scrub in circles. Then put on the lightest (with a tiny bit of yellow to warm it up) in the same way. Don't have time right now for a demo but hope that helps get the idea.

10-17-2006, 12:24 PM
I am about to start a painting and of course it has clouds and I also struggle so I appreciate this thread. Lots of good ideas and I think the less the better till you get what you want....

les lull
10-17-2006, 12:37 PM
Great reference photo for a painting.

Clouds used to kick my butt. I think I finally have something that works for me. Some of the things that helped me was to go outdoors and watch the clouds and observe the the colors with the thought in mind that clouds are made of water and they don't actually have any color. All of the color in clouds come from reflected light. The underside of the cloud is relational to the ground beneath it. The light on the top side of the cloud is highlighted by the sun. One thing that changed the way I painted clouds was to not have any areas of pure white. The lightest areas of the cloud will have a small bit of lemon yellow in the mix from the light of the sun. The underside will have a primary mix of red and blue with a little lemon yellow to grey it out a bit.

The other thing I would do is sketch out the painting and simplify the clouds. I have a tendency to paint everything in see in a sky and it dulls the illusion. There is a real tendency to overpaint clouds.

Good luck, I look forward to seeing your progress.

10-17-2006, 09:48 PM

That's a good way to think about clouds, that they are just water vapor that contains reflected light. Some artists tend to paint clouds that look as heavy as the landscape underneath them. Even storm clouds look much lighter than anything else in the scene in which they occur.


10-17-2006, 10:10 PM
Yep, I agree with Snoball.... a good bristle brush, and dry-brushing is the best bet. Light areas, and then dark, and then a final finish with the lightest highlights.

Here is a small tutorial Michele (Autumnwillow) did for me in the decorative arts forum when I first struggled with clouds.... I'm sure she wouldn't mind it being shared. It is very good, and reminds me of these clouds.


10-18-2006, 06:33 AM
best hint I can give is THINK like a cloud while doing them, light touch, and all edges soft and blended nothing hard edged at all...

10-18-2006, 09:38 AM
I cheat - I do cirrus clouds..... :lol:


10-18-2006, 10:52 AM
This may seem like using a baseball bat to swat at gnats, but I find the easiest method for painting clouds is to use a knife - a painting knife! I usually paint wet into wet, which implies that the background color upon which the clouds will be imposed is already laid in. But I also sometimes use the knife to add clouds when the under-layers are dry to the touch. And as Margaret has already suggested, don't overlook the "warming up" of cumulus clouds by subtle additions of yellow to the white mix. I prefer using naples yellow for the purpose.


10-18-2006, 11:15 AM
Never underestimate the power of a finger to blend as well. Has a nice feel to it.