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how to paint clouds with acrylic

How to Paint Clouds With Acrylics: Step by Step Process

As a beginner, you will face so many problems when you are trying to paint clouds using acrylics. But make your painting tasks more accessible; we are coming with a complete guide on how to paint clouds. Let’s start our journey.

What You Will Need

  • Titanium White, Phthalocyanine blue, Mars Black
  • Canvas Panels; 8×10 inches
  • Blending Aids (Water / Liquitex Slow Dry)
  • Brushes Clouds (Scrub Brush, Filbert)
  • Brushes Background (3 inches flat / 2inches flat / blender)

How to Paint Clouds With Acrylics: Step by Step Guide

paint clouds
Source: Greg Lowman Art

So first things first, we’re going to do the background, and this is a phthalocyanine blue. You can use any brand of paint. If you know what you’re doing, you can get the same effect with any brand, so even these cheaper basics will work fine. You don’t have to have the goldens or anything like that.

It might be a little creamier and more accessible, but this will be fine if you have a budget or just starting out. It is titanium white and phthalocyanine blue; just these two colors together will give us an excellent, bright blue background that we can lay our clouds on, so that’s all we’re going to do need for this part of the painting.

It is a slow dry blending aid by Liquitex; you can use this slow dry blending medium or a flow aid with water. These, in combination, when mixing your colors, will dry process and allow you to blend much more accessible with the background. Also, to soften the edges of the clouds, having a drying retardant allows so to start out.

How to Paint Clouds: Step 1

We’re just going to get a little water on our blending brush, add a little bit of the retardant. You just have to get a feel for this. If you add too much retardant and it’s super thin and watery, then drag more paint in if it’s too thick and creamy, then add more retardant so just get a feel for it and then mix your blue and your white to get a nice bright blue like this just a lovely sky blue if you want to buy a premix, that’s fine, but I prefer to blend my own color so I can get it exactly how I want.

I think you’ll prefer that also, and then we’re just going to lay the color on. Don’t worry about brushstrokes, so we’re just trying to cover the entire canvas right now. Just make sure you have plenty of paint; we want it to be somewhat thick and wet during this whole process because it’s essential to get an excellent good background that looks soft and uniform.

Step 2

Near the bottom, add more white, brighten up that blue, add more white, and that’s going to give us a more natural effect because usually near the horizon or lower towards the earth, it’s a bit brighter.

Then it deepens in blue as it gets above the horizon, so if you want to add a little more white at the bottom, it will make for a more natural background here I’m adding some pure white at the bottom just to make sure we get that bright haze near the earth, and that’s going to give us depth. You’ll see that come into play later on in the painting as we try to add depth. I’m just working on getting it even and getting it the way I want it, so I just do the same here.

Step 3

If you try to get that white haze at the bottom and just step back now and then when you’re doing this, take a look at it and add white where you need to, okay now?

Use a two-inch dry square brush. The bristles have to be dry, so no water, no flow aid, and just lightly brush the entire painting; once you have the paint apply the way that you want it to be used. I’m doing is just back and forth figure Eight’s and back and forth soft with a dry square brush like this, and what this does is softens that background, gets rid of the brushstrokes, and makes everything look uniform and natural, just scraping off some of the paint.

how to paint clouds with watercolor

Trying to keep the bristles clean now, I’m just switching it out for a 3-inch same thing dry bristles, and we’re just going to go over that lightly again. By doubling up, you make sure to soften that background, and it’ll look nice and uniform and beautiful for you, so now, at this point, the background is where we want it.

Now I’m going to get a little bit of Mars black. This is a different brand Windsor and Newton, and as I said, it doesn’t matter if you know what you’re doing, and I’m just going to add a little dab of black just to get a light grey.

So we’re going to use that black with the titanium white, and this is a filbert brush is just a flat brush with a rounded tip, and this is a good brush for blending and scrubbing in initial layers of color, and we’re going to mix that white and black to give us a soft gray just to get the bottoms of the clouds and the underbelly of the clouds so same as before I was just a little dip in the water and the flow ate just to help us blend.

How to Paint Clouds With Acrylics: Step 4

paint clouds with acrylics

We’re using that because acrylics dry very fast, so that’s why people use oil paints. It’s because it stays wet for a long time, and it’s easier to blend, so this allows us to get that bright pop of acrylic paint but also get the blending benefits of oils, so I’m just getting a light gray I don’t want it too dark, at least not in this particular painting with a clear blue sky.

It’s going to be bright white clouds with they’re just a soft gray on the bottom, and then here we’re just mapping out the bottoms of the clouds. When you’re doing this when if you want to add depth, you want the clouds near the top of the painting, your main clouds to be larger, and you’re going to see more of the gray bottoms because you’ll be looking more directly up at them.

Step 5

Then, as you drop down towards that whiter horizon, you will see the sides of the clouds more, so it will just be a thin strip of grey at the bottom. You’ll see that coming to work but think about perspective and depth when you’re doing this, but right now, we’re just mapping out our main clouds and adding this gray will set in the bottom and the main bulk of those clouds, and then we’ll add white around the edges to brighten them up, so here how it’s thinner strips of grey.

how to paint clouds with acrylics for beginners

Because these clouds are going to be off in the distance as opposed to the two bodies of clouds that I just added that we’d be looking up at so I’m just rinsing it now. That’s just water getting all the gray out now, the same thing, just a little bit of flow aid and dry retardant and water still using the filbert brush.

Now you can start working in the bright white. We’re going to use this white to work around the gray and add the bright backlit edges of the clouds, and this is what’s going to bring it to life. You don’t want a defined line between the gray and the white you want it softly blended, so kind of work the edges of the gray there and try to blend that white and gray on those edges.

As you’re doing this and just kind of surround the gray, leave it a little thinner on the bottom part, and then you drag that white-out more on the top part if you want to add depth. Here you can kind of pull that white-out, make it look kinda wispy and blown in the wind a bit, and just try to make all your edges soft by soft I mean well blended; you don’t want harshly defined edges when you’re painting clouds that will give it a cartoony unnatural look.

How to Paint Clouds: Step 6

how to paint clouds with acrylic

So blending is kind of key in these clouds then here, it’s going to be a similar thing, but with these distant clouds, it’s all going to be thinner, smaller. You’re not going to drag that white-out as much on top, and that will set those clouds back on the horizon more because we’re getting more of a side profile view of those as opposed to a bottom-up view of those main two clouds that are closer and larger, and those little subtleties will help with perspective and depth.

It will make it looks natural and when you’re doing this initial layer, just think of blending and mapping your kind of mapping out the shapes of the clouds and just try to soften and blend everything in well, and then as you add another layer to you can brighten up certain spots and make some changes and things like that, but just really try to blend these out well and map it out well to where it makes sense dimensionally.

But it doesn’t have to look perfect on this first layer. It is all just kind of concept and getting things laid out, and it’s kind of tedious, but just keep working it in and blending it. We’re just adding more white, and we’re going to drag out the tops of the closer clouds that we’re looking up at, and by adding this size and brightness and dimension, we’re going to set ourselves underneath those.

Step 7

how to paint clouds for beginners

We’ll set those smaller, more profiled side view clouds back in the distance and give us that depth that we want, so just exact thing mapping and blending and dragging out those tops and try to make it, you know, kind of wispy and just thin and light here on the tops the base of those clouds will be thick and the tops pool kind of be lit up and blended and wispy that’ll make it look natural as we add some more color, so now this is the scrub blender brush it’s a smaller blender, and it’s going to stiffer bristles.

It’s just a scrub brush, but the same thing gets some retardant and some blending aid, and a little bit of water. Just find that little balance which you will, and just get everything blended out all those edges; we don’t want any defined edges. Everything has got to be soft, so it’s a little tedious, but it’s worth it and just soften all those edges up. This little scrub brush is great for that.

I’ll put links to all these different brushes and paint colors and the canvas panel everything in the description so you can use exactly what I’m using here and follow these and create this exact painting if you want to, so now I’m just grabbing more color I’m still having the scrub brush. Now I’m going to add a little bit of brightness here into these main clouds while everything’s wet, and then once we get it mapped out, blended well, and our initial layers in, we’ll let that layer dry.

We’ll add another layer; I’m just kind of working that edge of the gray, same thing, so just kind of going around that gray base that we set in blending in those edges and just adding some more color and brightness and white try not to leave any hard edges so this is kind of wrapping up the first part of this painting.

Source Video:


Let’s wrap this one up, and then in the second part, we’ll add some more layers, add some more brightness, really blend everything out and finish it up.