How To Paint Cloudy Day Landscape With Acrylics

In this tutorial, we will show you how to paint a cloudy day landscape with acrylics. Cloudy days always seem to bring a sense of calmness and peace. The sky is a beautiful dark blue, and the clouds are fluffy and white. This is a beginner-friendly landscape tutorial for developing a series of general models.

Painting an acrylic landscape with an overcast atmosphere will require some value hierarchy knowledge. Once you understand the big picture we will move on to discuss colors, and why they get lighter as they recede. Finally, we will give you some tips on where to place darker hues in your painting. With these beginner lessons, you will be able to create your next masterpiece!

How to paint cloudy day with acrylics

You have the video which demonstrates some of the key points for painting a cloudy day atmosphere. However, there’s also step-by-step guide below with additional information. Have a look while you’re here.

How To Paint Cloudy Day Landscape With Acrylics
– Cloudy day acrylic landscape; source Painthog courses

In this article we will cover the following topics:

  • What is value hierarchy and how it applies to cloudy day paintings
  • Values will get lighter as they recede into the distance
  • What colors to mix for clouds
  • What colors to use for the ground plane
  • How to treat diagonals
  • Verticals are the darkest values
  • Block-in techniques
  • Cast shadows are diffused and have soft edges
  • Make adjustments by comparing values
  • Water is a mostly reflective surface
  • Reserve the yellows for the foreground
  • Develop a generally cloudy day model
value hierarchy for cloudy day
– Value hierarchy for cloudy day

Value hierarchy and how it applies to cloudy day paintings

Value hierarchy is the order in which values are prescribed to certain areas of a subject. In this case, the sky is the lightest and everything else will be darker. That’s a great, simple plan that works every time!

Next in line is the ground plane, then diagonals such as the barn roof and distant mountains. Vertical elements such as trees are the darkest elements. There are exceptions, especially for manmade objects like a white barn. This would be as dark as a green tree. This is why we call it a general model. The general model is a blueprint to which you can compare to other sceneries. This is much better than starting at zero.

When painting a cloudy day, the sky will be lighter in value than the ground plane, and all vertical elements. That’s a big idea!. The reason behind this is the clouds are soaking in the light source which is the sun. It’s also absorbing the majority of the light, so therefore the ground plane will be darker in value.

mixing paint for clouds
– Mixing paint for clouds

Values will get lighter as they recede into the distance

Values will get lighter as they recede into the distance. This is due to atmospheric perspective, or the loss of detail and contrast as objects get further away. This happens because there is more atmosphere between the viewer and the object. The farther away an object is, the more atmosphere it has to travel through. This filters out the light and makes colors appear muted.

To place these darker hues, start with the ground plane then work up to the barn roof. For the mountains in the distance, use a light touch since they are so far away. Vertical elements such as trees should be placed last. They will be the darkest values in the painting.

Painting the clouds
Painting the clouds

What colors to mix for clouds.

To get a range of values for your clouds mix white with warm and cool hues such as ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, cadmium red light, and viridian green. a light blue. It’s okay if these individual mixtures mingle some on the palette. Just be sure the sky has a good amount of variety.

What colors to use for the ground plane

The ground plane should be a range of earthy greens and blue-greens. Try mixing viridian with yellow ochre and white. This is a good base green to work with. As the land moves into the distance, add more white and a touch of blue. For land that’s closer to you, mix more yellow ochre and viridian.

How to treat diagonals

Diagonals such as mountains, rooftops, and other elements are the third darkest values. So, lighter in value than trees but darker than the sky.

painting vertical landscape elements
– Painting vertical elements

Verticals are the darkest values

Since the sky is lighter in value than the ground plane, vertical lines will be the darkest values in your painting. This includes trees, buildings, and any other tall objects.

Block-in techniques

When starting a painting it’s always important to block in the basic shapes first. This will help you get a feel for the composition and help you to plan out your values. Avoid getting too fussy at this stage, changes can and will be made later on as you refine the landscape painting.

Cast shadows are diffused and have soft edges

Since the light source is coming from behind the clouds, cast shadows will be diffused and have soft edges. This means that they won’t be as dark as regular shadows. Avoid hard edges and values that may become distracting for this type of atmosphere.

Finishing landscape touches
– Add finishing touches

Make adjustments by comparing values

Once the block-in is complete, you can start the refining values, colors and shapes. It’s always important to compare your values while you’re painting using the hierarchy as a guide. This will help you make any necessary adjustments and create a more realistic image. Remember that hues are more saturated as they get closer to you, and less colorful as they move away.

Water is a mostly reflective surface

Since water is a mostly reflective surface, it will take on the colors of its surroundings. Usually, the sky if it’s towards the background. If the water is very still, such as a pond, it will have more reflections. If the water is moving, such as an ocean, it’s not reflective at all.

Develop a generally cloudy day model

If you have taken the time to paint this study, congratulations! You have just created a general model for a cloudy day. This will help you plan accordingly the next time you have presented the opportunity to create a similar landscape atmosphere. With these tips, you’ll be able to create beautiful landscapes that capture the essence of a cloudy day!

Conclusion

In this landscape tutorial, we discussed the overall game plan for values in a cloudy day landscape painting. We also talked about what colors to mix for clouds and the ground plane, and how to treat diagonals and vertical lines. Finally, we gave you some tips on creating a general cloudy day model. With these beginner lessons, you will be able to create your next masterpiece! Thanks for reading!

We hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to paint cloudy day landscape with acrylics. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. Happy painting!

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