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How to Paint Moonlit Clouds

Leslie Rose

The trick to painting moonlit clouds is subtlety. You should present most of the features of the night sky with low-contrast values. By far, the brightest object in the sky should be the moon. The light cast by the moon should be delicate and gentle, so that all other visible objects seem faint and dim. Use a spectrum of blues, grays and whites.

Look at a photograph of moonlit clouds for inspiration and guidance as you make your painting.
  1. Paint the background a deep blue that has been mixed with black. Use a flat paintbrush or paint rollers, if you are painting this on a wall.

  2. Paint a white orb against the dark blue background. The orb represents the moon, if you plan for it to be visible in the painting. Use a medium-sized round-tipped paintbrush.

  3. Mix a small blot of white with the blue-black paint that you used for the background, so that the color you mix is a dark blue-gray.

  4. Paint the puffy shape of a cloud near to the moon. Use a round-tipped, medium-sized paintbrush. Study the shapes of clouds for this step, if you're looking for the most realistic cloud shape possible. To give your cloud a rounder, fuller appearance, pick up a little blue and black with your paintbrush and blend these colors in the center of the cloud, so that the center of the cloud is slightly darker than the outside of the cloud.

  5. Switch to a slightly smaller paintbrush. Mix a small blot of white with the blue-gray paint that you used to paint the cloud in the sky, so that the blue-gray becomes a slightly lighter blue-gray. Use your smaller paintbrush, dipped in this new blue-gray color, to line the edges of the clouds nearest the moon. Use a dry paintbrush to blend the line of slightly lighter gray with the rest of the cloud, so that the highlighted area is subtle.

  6. Repeat steps 3 through 5 as desired.

Check out this related video from Homesteady on Youtube.