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How to Paint Clouds the Easy Way?

How do you paint something that moves in a gaseous state in the sky? Painting clouds is anything but easy, yet they are a popular subject of landscape painting.

Under the cloud, motif falls a whole range of different cloud types: From the gentle cloud of fog to the dark gray storm cloud, everything is possible. 

That’s why you should first understand how clouds are classified before you start painting wildly. Then we look at how you can paint certain types of clouds best with acrylics, oil paints, or watercolors.

How are clouds classified?

Clouds are differentiated by how high they rise into the atmosphere.

  • Stratus clouds indicate the continuous gray cloud layers, which are also known as high fog. 
  • Cirrus clouds are recognizable by their thread or band-like structure. Such clouds let the bluish atmosphere shine through. 
  • Cumulus clouds are highly condensed clouds with sharply defined contours. Here are many shades to consider and the sunshine plays a particularly important role.
  • Cumulonimbus clouds are very tall clouds whose shape resembles an anchor. The dense clouds often look dark gray from the earth and are considered bad weather and storm clouds.

Besides, there are a few other types of clouds and subspecies. For all clouds, you have to pay special attention to the shading and the contrast of the individual foothills. It helps to observe clouds regularly and to develop an eye for the presentation.

Maltipps to individual cloud types

Painting cumulus clouds

The dramatic cumulus clouds are full of energy that should be reflected in your image. But first, you should prime the background. If you only want to paint the atmosphere, including clouds, you should keep the background in different shades of blue. For example, if you are planning a natural landscape with clouds, the different areas of your image are primed in different color families.

Determine now whether sunshine should be shown and from which direction it should hit the clouds. This step is essential to create a consistent, logical picture. The bright fields, illuminated by the sun, are finally painted. You start the cloud-first with darker shades of gray, which are gradually worked out with lighter layers.

A pure white is rather uncommon, so you should even grave the final accents something, so as not to make the contrasts seem unnatural. The bright color accents are applied to the parts of the cloud that face the sun.

Cirrus clouds male n

To paint such a cloud is no child’s play, as it is only slightly different from the background and does not permit sharp contrasts. One gets the impression that the thin clouds should only be hinted at to give them a real look.

It is recommended to bring different shades of gray to the ground and to blur the color after each application to blend the edges and contrasts between the clouds and the atmosphere.

Individual cirrus clouds are shown in thin shreds. You can apply it pretty well with a little paint and a fine brush if you do not think much about the exact design of the fragments. The scraps are again blinded with the background to make the little clouds almost merge with the sky blue. You can even use watercolor pencils

Stratus clouds

Horizontal, long gray cloud bands are the hallmark of the Stratus clouds. And correctly, the appearance of such a shadow can not be separated from the presence of gray fog. Therefore, the shading of an utterly gray area without much sky blue plays the most crucial role in the graphic design of such a cloud.

Again, it is advisable to work from the dark into light and reach the depth effect using multiple layers.

Since you can mostly do without a blue background, you can work with several color families on the cloud to achieve exciting contrasts. In addition to different shades of gray, especially ocher, brown and yellow, are relevant.

The influence of color

The choice of color affects your bottom line enormously. With oil and acrylic paints, the paint is traditionally applied impasto with clear brush marks and distinct color edges. So, for example, they are well suited to painting a cumulus cloud, which is displayed in bold colors and has sharp contrasts.

Watercolors, on the other hand, are better suited for painting flowing courses with a translucent application of color. Cirrus clouds, which almost disappear into the background, are therefore ideal for watercolor painting.

Despite the different color characteristics, it is possible to paint each cloud with each color, if you know what you’re getting into. Ultimately, your taste should show you which style you prefer.

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