How To Paint Front-Lit Landscape With Acrylics

How To Paint Front-Lit Landscape With Acrylics

In this tutorial, we will cover how to paint front-lit landscape with acrylics. This is a great beginner tutorial because it covers the basics of acrylic painting while teaching you how to create a beautiful landscape.

We will start by discussing the colors that we will be using and why they were chosen. Then, we will move on to the step-by-step process of creating this painting. Finally, we will give you some tips for finding contrast in your landscapes and creating more interesting compositions.

The video offers a brief description and useful tips of how to paint front-lit acrylic landscape with acrylics. It’s a condensed version, but should be very useful. To gain access to the un-cut version, check out Landscape Painting Fundamentals Part 2.

In this article we will cover the following topics:

  • How to pick the best front-lit landscape
  • Linear and atmospheric perspective still applies
  • What you need to know about saturation and shadows
  • How to treat the sky and ground plane values
  • Step-by-step breakdown
  • Conclusion & how to learn more

Let’s begin with how to pick the best front-lit scenes.

How to paint acrylic landscapes that are front-lit (light source is behind you)

Here is a step-by-step breakdown and basic rules you can apply for painting this type of landscape. It will help you build a general model for which you can easily apply to your next acrylic landscape masterpiece. We will begin with tips on how to treat a front-lit scene, and end with a step-by-step tutorial.

How To Paint Front-Lit Landscape With Acrylics

When painting a front-lit landscape, it’s important to choose a scene that has good contrast.

This will create more interest in your painting and make it more visually appealing. You can find contrast by looking for areas that are darker or lighter than the surrounding area. Look for interesting shapes and colors as well, and try to incorporate them into the scene.

If the scenery doesn’t offer contrast, make it up! That’s the job of an artist. We have the luxury to make any changes that will enhance our paintings.

Linear and atmospheric perspectives still apply to front-lit scenes.

This means that objects that are further away will appear smaller and have less detail than those that are closer. This is why it’s important to choose a scene with interesting foreground elements. These elements will be larger and have more detail, which will make them stand out against the background.

Here’s an excellent article on linear and aerial perspective if you want to learn more.

Saturation is also an important consideration when painting front-lit landscapes.

Saturated colors dominate front-lit scenes. This is because the sun is behind you and illuminating the subjects/objects. It can make it challenging because there are very few shadow effects. Most of the cast shadows are hidden behind the objects.

That’s why you want a scene with contrast! Without it, you run the risk of the painting becoming too busy and colorful.

How to treat the sky and ground planes

The sky and ground planes are often the same values. This is an anomaly for most landscape conditions. If you have studied landscape painting, then you know the sky is usually lighter in value.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to the step-by-step process of creating this painting.

This breakdown should help you paint along with me, and answer any questions you may have about how to paint front-lit scenes with acrylics.

Adding the composition

Step #1; Add the drawing

If you are somewhat loose or have a desire to paint looser, keep the drawing minimalistic. Avoiding too many details will help eliminate knuckling down on the brush as you paint.

Conversely, if you are more realistic, then you would want to add more information to your drawing.

painting ground plane

Step #2; Block-in ground plane

Remember to choose saturated colors. Also, avoid mixing white with hues intended for the foreground, instead, add more yellows. Also, use good aerial perspective practices for color mixing as the ground plane moves into the distance.

painting vertical landscape elements

Step #3; Block-in the verticals

Paint the verticals slightly darker than the ground plane. That’s because they receive less light. The ground is flat, while the verticals are more perpendicular to the light source.

Painting white barn for contrast

Step #4; Add contrast with white house

Adding the white house made this design work harmoniously with front-lit scenes. Without it, the painting becomes too loud, there’s nothing to balance all the color.

Painting sky gradations

Step #5; Block-in the sky and clouds

Use sky gradations to create an interesting transition from the top of the sky to the horizon. I like to use a little viridian green along with cerulean, or cobalt blue, mixed with plenty of titanium white.

Clouds are white underneath but don’t be afraid to add a touch of yellow ochre, and cadmium red light to the bellies. Its hues are there if you take time to study them.

How To Paint Front-Lit Landscape With Acrylics

Step #6; Make adjustments and add remaining details

Once the block-in is complete, make adjustments to colors and values. Avoid doing this too early! Everything needs to be blocked in before you know which colors to tweak.


We hope you enjoyed how to paint a landscape with acrylics. Front-lit scenes are a joy to paint due to their saturated colors and lack of shadows. By following these simple steps, you can create your next painting.

If you want to learn more about acrylics, be sure to check out the other acrylic landscape tutorials in this series!

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