Painting clouds

Table of Contents

Painting clouds is especially important when creating a nature painting, as cloudscapes often form the background of the painting. However, painting clouds can be challenging, as each cloud differs from each other based on size and color. Creating smooth color transitions is important when painting clouds, as they are often painted in transparent layers.


When painting clouds, it is recommended not to use very bright or dark colors. Excessive use of white can really help prevent the sky from becoming too blue. If you do want to make the sky a bit darker, it is better to wait until the acrylic paint has dried, as it will often become slightly darker. If the sky still looks too light you can start making it darker.

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Painting clouds step by step

Painting clouds can be a challenging part of landscape paintings, but it is also an essential part of creating a realistic and atmospheric sky. In this chapter, we offer a step-by-step guide to painting clouds with acrylic paint, including tips on colour choice, brush techniques and building layers. Whether you are a beginner or advanced painter, this guide provides useful information to help you create beautiful clouds that will take your paintings to the next level.


Painting clouds with acrylic paint requires some essential materials to ensure that you can achieve the desired results. Below is a list of required materials.


Acrylic paint is an ideal paint for painting clouds, as it dries quickly and is versatile. It is available in tubes, jars or spray cans and can be mixed in a variety of colors. When choosing paint colors, it is important to remember that clouds reflect many colors and several colors are needed to create a realistic effect.


Different types of brushes are needed to paint different parts of clouds. For example, soft, wide brushes are good for painting soft edges and creating large shapes, while hard, round brushes are better for creating details and making thin lines.


There are several types of substrates available for painting clouds with acrylic paint, including canvas, paper, board and wood. Canvas is a popular choice because of its texture and durability, while paper is a good option for studies and sketches.

Other materials

Other supplies include paint trays, cloths, a palette knife and water to clean brushes.

Before you start painting, it is important to make sure you have the right materials and have them to hand. By using quality materials and tools, you can ensure a better end result.

Basic steps for painting clouds

Painting clouds with acrylic paint requires some preparation and planning to achieve the desired results. Below are some basic steps to get you started when painting clouds.

Step 1: Choose your colors

Clouds come in different colours, depending on the time of day and weather conditions. When painting clouds, it is important to remember that clouds are not only white, but can also have other colours such as pink, orange, purple and blue. Make sure you choose a color palette that suits the mood you want to create.

Step 2: Determine the composition

Determine the position of the clouds on the canvas and decide how many clouds should be in the painting. It can help to make a sketch beforehand to determine the composition and visualize the placement of the clouds.

Step 3: Set up the base layer

Start by applying a base coat to the canvas, using the colors you have chosen. Make sure you apply a light base coat to keep the colors of the clouds bright. Let the base coat dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Build layers

Then apply a second layer on top of the base layer to define the clouds. Make sure you shape the clouds using light and dark shades. It is important to create smooth transitions between layers. Work from light to dark and large to small to define the cloud texture.

Step 5: Add details

Finally, add details to the clouds, such as highlights and shadows to create depth and texture. Experiment with using different brushes and techniques to create different effects.

With these basic steps in mind, you can start painting clouds. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colours and techniques to create a unique and personal painting. Stay patient and gradually build up the layers to achieve a beautiful result.

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Painting different types of clouds

Painting different cloud types requires different techniques to achieve the right shape, color, and texture. Below are instructions for painting three of the most common cloud types: cumulus, stratus, and cirrus.

Cumulus clouds

Cumulus clouds are large, fluffy clouds often associated with nice weather. To paint cumulus clouds, start by applying the base coat with light, blue and white shades. Next, use a large, soft brush to create the shapes of the clouds by applying the paint in circular motions. Next, use a round brush to define the clouds with dark shades and shadows.

Stratus clouds

Stratus clouds are longer clouds that are often a grey color and can range from thin layers to thick, heavy layers. To paint stratus clouds, start by applying a grey or blue base coat to the canvas. Then use a soft brush to create the shape of the clouds by applying the paint in horizontal, gentle strokes. Work with different shades of color to create depth.

Cirrus clouds

Cirrus clouds are high in the sky and have a feathery texture. To paint cirrus clouds, start by applying a light base coat to the canvas. Then use a dry, soft brush to create the clouds by applying the paint in thin, feather-like strokes. Use different colours and shades to shape the clouds and add texture.

Finishes and details

After the clouds are painted, it is important to apply finishes and details to complete the painting. Below are some tips for applying highlights and shadows, adding texture and integrating clouds into the rest of the painting.

Highlights and shadows

Applying highlights and shadows can help make the clouds look more realistic and vivid. Use white paint to apply highlights to the parts of the clouds illuminated by the sun. Use blue or grey shades to create shadows on the parts of the clouds that are in shadow.


To add texture to clouds, you can use different techniques, such as using a sponge, using a palette knife or applying thick layers of paint. Experiment with different techniques to see which suits your style best.

Integration of clouds in the painting

To integrate the clouds into the rest of the painting, you can reflect some elements of the clouds in other parts of the painting. For example, use similar colors or brushstrokes in the background to make the clouds fit into the painting.


When you are happy with the clouds and the rest of the painting, let it dry thoroughly before varnishing or framing it. This way you will enjoy your beautiful painting for years to come!

Common mistakes and how to avoid them

Painting clouds can be challenging, especially if you are doing it for the first time. Below are some common mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.

Mistake 1: Using too much paint

One of the most common mistakes when painting clouds is using too much paint. This can lead to unnatural clouds that look too heavy and thick. Instead, use light brush strokes and build up the paint layers gradually.

Mistake 2: Forgetting to paint the sky

Another common mistake when painting clouds is forgetting about the sky. The sky is an important part of the painting and can help make the clouds look more realistic. Make sure you paint the sky layer by layer and create smooth transitions between colors.

Mistake 3: Not enough variation in color

Painting clouds with just one color can lead to a dull and monotonous painting. Clouds reflect multiple colors and shades depending on the light and weather conditions. Therefore, use different shades and colors to add depth and texture to the clouds.

Mistake 4: Using colors that are too dark or bright

Using too dark or bright colors can lead to unnatural clouds that don’t match the rest of the painting. Instead, choose softer, lighter colors and add more color if necessary.

Mistake 5: Inadequate mixing of the paint

Insufficient mixing of the paint can lead to uneven colors and an unnatural appearance of the clouds. Therefore, make sure you mix the paint well and create smooth transitions between the different colors.


By avoiding these common mistakes, you can create a beautiful and realistic painting of clouds. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and colors to create your own unique style. Stay patient and build up the layers gradually to achieve a beautiful result.

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