How to Paint Clouds: Step-By-Step Acrylic Art Lesson
This easy cloud painting tutorial will help you practice a fundamental skill for landscape painting. Clouds are sure to come up in one form or another in most of your acrylic landscape paintings, so now would be a great time to practice!
I’ve had a lot of people in my DMs recently asking for cloud painting tips, so here they are! And because clouds can be any shape and size, it could be really fun to try this tutorial multiple times for extra practice. Let’s get started!
You’ll need the following materials; follow the links to purchase these art supplies if needed.
7 Easy Steps To Paint Clouds
Mix your acrylic paints to get roughly the same colors you see here.
Remember: they don’t have to be exact, and it’s always best to start small with the amount of paint you’re mixing, until you have a color you like.
You want a light blue, a darker blue, and pure titanium white straight from the tube.
For the blues in the original video, I used a slightly turquoise shade of blue; this can easily be replicated by adding the tiniest bit of yellow to your blue, or you can leave out the yellow entirely and go with a straight blue.
Dampen your M1 (large) blending brush and grab some white paint.
Lay down a broad strip of white in the middle of your canvas (you can’t see it against the white of the canvas but it’s right below the blue in those photos).
Then grab the lighter blue on the same brush and apply a strip right above the white, working bottom to top.
Do the same with the darker blue above the light blue, keeping your brush just damp enough with water for the paint to run smoothly as you apply it.
Now do a light first blend of your acrylic sky, using light pressure and circular motions, working bottom to top. You can see this in action in the second photo.
Now we’re going to do some further blending to prepare the sky for our acrylic cloud painting! Clean off and dry the brush, then work bottom-to-top to do that second round of finer blending.
As always, remember to use a VERY light touch and quick swirling motions with your wrist, slightly dragging the paint on the canvas upward as you work from the bottom up.
The sky should look smoother like this when you’re done.
Now we’re finally ready to start laying down those fluffy acrylic clouds in a few easy steps!
Grab your ½” flat brush with some water and white paint and use it to create some simple cloud shapes.
Have fun with it and don’t worry about making your clouds perfect: clouds can be any shape and size, so you don’t have to worry about “messing them up”! 😊
Using dabbing motions with the brush really helps to get that cloud shape. I didn’t work from a reference photo (just my imagination) when painting these clouds, but if it helps you to reference my cloud shapes or someone else’s photo, there’s no shame in that either (I do it sometimes too)!
Work from one side of the canvas to the other and think about variety when applying your cloud shapes: no two clouds are identical, so really let loose and have fun changing up the shapes and sizes!
As you move down the canvas, leave more space between your clouds (you can see this in the second photo) to create the effect of multiple rows of clouds. Also, remember that clouds will get smaller as they recede into the distance, so make the clouds smaller as you move down the canvas.
At the very bottom, your clouds can be a single white row like I did above. This will create the illusion of lots of clouds bunched together in the distance. You can also add tiny little outliers away from the main group.
Now we’re going to add shadows to our clouds for depth. Light and shadow are the keys to really adding depth to your acrylic landscape paintings.
Mix a medium grey by adding a tiny bit of black to some white paint. Grab your ½” flat brush and pick what side of your landscape you want the sun to be shining from. In this example, I chose the left. You’ll be painting your shadows on the opposite side.
Apply patches of grey to the opposite side of the clouds from the sun, in somewhat random shapes. Then apply a decent amount of grey to the bottoms of the clouds, which will also be in shadow.
Notice in my example how you can use the grey to make clouds look like they’re overlapping; try this for yourself! Use less grey as you move further down the canvas (aka the clouds in the far distance).
Now I’ll show you how to blend colors in smaller areas. Dampen your M2 (medium size) blending brush by getting it fully wet and then squeezing out excess water.
Lightly swirl the brush to blend the edges of the grey areas where they meet the white areas of the clouds.
You’ll be using the same light touch and swirling wrist motion that we used for the background, just over a smaller area.
This is great practice for control when blending your acrylic paints and again, I would highly recommend practicing this tutorial multiple times to help you get the technique down!
For the final step in our acrylic painting tutorial, we’ll be adding highlights, which are every bit as important as shadows for adding depth to your acrylic paintings.
Grab some white on a damp M2 brush and start adding some highlights to the opposite side of the clouds as the side you added the shadows (in this example I’m adding highlights to the left side).
Now that you’ve blended in the grey, these highlights should really pop in a cool way! Blend in the highlights along the edges the same way you blended the grey in the last step.
You can switch to your M3 (small) blending brush for smaller clouds if you’d like, or even use a light touch with your ½” flat brush for some finer detail blending.
Finally, load your #0 detail brush with some white paint and add some little detailed fluff to the edges of your clouds.
As always, you can get as detailed as you’d like with the detail step; everyone has a different style and preference!
Also, this tutorial is just about painting clouds themselves, but feel free to paint whatever horizon or landscape you’d like below the clouds for extra credit!
I hope you enjoyed this easy step-by-step painting tutorial! The point of this acrylic tutorial was to give you an easy and fun way to practice your clouds, which a lot of beginning artists have difficulty with.
So if that’s you, don’t worry; it takes time and practice and you can do this tutorial as many times as you’d like, experimenting in a different way each time!
Please leave a comment if you tried this tutorial or just learned something new from reading it. Also, be sure to send me your results @colorbyfeliks.community on Instagram if you recreate this tutorial, so I can share your work! I’ll see you next week!
And remember, you can buy all the products I used in this tutorial below: