painting watercolor clouds | Erin Kate Archer | Skillshare

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painting watercolor clouds

teacher avatar Erin Kate Archer, art & illustration

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      cloud types


    • 3.



    • 4.

      cloud studies


    • 5.

      painting demonstration: blue sky


    • 6.

      painting demonstration : sunset sky


    • 7.

      inspiration & project


    • 8.

      bonus sketching tip


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About This Class

learn to paint fluffy realistic clouds in watercolor. covering cloud anatomy & types, as well as techniques from beginner to advanced. whether you're looking for a way to incorporate clouds into your next landscape or want to create a standalone painting, this class will arm you with the skills you need!

Meet Your Teacher

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Erin Kate Archer

art & illustration


erin kate archer is a new york-based artist & illustrator with an ethereal, magical style. her work aims to calm, comfort, and transport. from immersive fairytale landscapes and glowing high-key celestial pieces, to charming flora & fauna and children’s book illustrations – erin makes what was once a static image a tranquil visual journey. 


erin has illustrated children's picture books; was selected for the sing for hope NYC piano painting project; is a skillshare top teacher, and has created work for a number of consumer brands. 


follow along with her on instagram, check out her portfolio for some finished projects, and visit her etsy shop to purchase prints... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

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1. trailer: With their transparency and unpredictability, watercolors are perfect for creating cloud paintings and their central for any landscape painter. In this class, we will go over the different types of clouds and how to create them in watercolor, from sketching to different methods to creating different types of clouds. Then we will go on to a full painting of a blue sky and then finish off with a sunset sky. So if this sounds interesting to you, enroll now. 2. cloud types: Let's do a quick science lesson so we can get all of the different types of cloud anatomy out of the way and I'll be on the same page about what types of clouds were painting. First of all, you probably know that clouds are made of really small drops of water. You probably know that there are different classifications like cirrus, stratus and cumulus. But we also have different levels of altitude. We have high, middle, and low depending on where the hanging in the sky. There are a bunch of different representations for each altitude class but for our purposes, we're going to be focusing on ones that can be best rendered in watercolor and the most useful for you as you do your paintings. To start out with high level, we have cirrus, which is one of the most common types of clouds you'll see. They are present throughout the year and they're really thin and wispy. cirrostratus clouds, they have a sheet like appearance that can look like a curly blanket covering the sky. They're really translucent which makes it quite easy to see the sun or the moon peer through, which can be really helpful if you're doing sunset illustration. Then for the mid level, we have the nimbostratus, which comes from the Latin word nimbus, which means rain and stress for spread out. These gloomy clouds are the heavy rain bears out there forming thick and dark layers of clouds that can completely block out the sun. Really, the quintessential storm cloud. Then we have altocumulus clouds, which are sometimes called social clouds because they tend to have little groups. They are grayish-white in color and some portions are darker than the other. The preeminentive store. Then we have low-hanging clouds, which are the most interesting and recognizable in my opinion. We have stratus, which are clouds composed of thin layers covering a large area of the sky. They're long horizontal layers. Then we have cumulus, which is the most recognizable out of all of the clouds and what you've think of when you are looking for a shapes of animals in the clouds. They're adorable piles of cotton and they have a large mass with a well-defined rounded edge. It explains why the name is actually Latin for heap. Just like a heat of white fluff. Cumulonibus is also fluffy and white but the cloud formations are much larger. It's a vertical developing type of cloud, which is why it's commonly called a tower clouds. It reaches all the way from the lower level clouds to the high level clouds. Then we have stratocumulus clouds, which are low lying cloud, wide horizontal structure. The base is well-defined and flat, but the upper part of the cloud is all ragged and fluffy. That's our quick overview of the different cloud types we're going to be covering in this class. If you'd like to download this PDF, I'll be sure to upload it into the class materials and you can reference it as we paint. 3. supplies: For this class, we're going to keep the supplies fairly simple. I've got with just one palette here, which is the Prima Marketing watercolor, the Classics palette. It has a nice range of colors and it will be using only these colors for this class. Then, we have this paper by Canson. It's watercolor paper. It's pretty inexpensive. This is the 140-pound version and it is cold press, which I prefer. Just a quick overview is that cold press paper absorbs water better. When you're doing a wet project, like often creating skies can be a really wet painting, it's good to have a little bit of heavier weight, but for the price, this one is really good. Then, we have a mechanical pencil just to sketch out outlines of clouds, a white gel pen for some extra details, masking tape to mask out the edges. We have masking fluid, which is basically liquid masking tape so you can draw with it, and then, let it dry. Then, anything that you have painted will remain white once you peel off the masking fluid. I will link everything so that you can see what exactly what I'm using. Then, we have for brushes. I'm using this size eight silver black velvet brush, which is a round brush. I really love this one and it's going to be the only one we'll use for this class. Then, for the most important thing for painting clouds is a paper towel. We'll be using this a ton as we go through the different types of clouds. 4. cloud studies: Now we're going to do some studies so we can start getting used to the way clouds are created. To start out, we're actually going to do a cloudless sky, which is often prevalent in paintings and can be really common in the summertime. You can do this with a square brush. But since I'm trying to keep it simple here, I'm going to show you how you can do it with a round brush as well. I'm just wetting the entire square here and I've already masked out all my edges just so I can have clean lines. You don't have to do that if you don't want to. Then I'm taking a mix, the dark blue and the light blue and my palette. My colors may be switched around if you buy the same palette because I've had them fall out a few times. I've never had replaced them. Don't be alarmed if that's the case. I'm just going to mix those two colors and then I'm going to start at the top. Then I'm going to bring the wash down. You want to keep your strokes horizontal, especially as you get closer to where the horizon will be. Because that's the way the clouds will be going as well. You can add a few more layers like this. That's how you can get a nice smooth gradient. It seems simple, but you could honestly fill up a whole sheet of studies like this. Doing nice flat washes, flat gradient washes, I should say. It's going to be our base for a lot of our cloud pieces. You can see the way the paint granulate anyway, gives you a hint of clouds. For this next one, we're going to do the same exact thing. Fill this with water and I'm going to go from the simplest skies to the more difficult ones. We're going to create another flat wash using those same colors. You can see how if you're using a flat brush and makes it a little bit more consistent. But I like the way the round brush gives you a little bit more texture. Plus, then you only have one brush to wash at the end, which is always nice. Remember to keep it darker at the top and then fade it lighter as you get towards the horizon. Then next we're going to take our paper towels. This is the easiest way and it's like the cirrus clouds or the stratus clouds that we went over in the cloud anatomy. We're just going to create little swooping motions with our roll of paper towel. This is a really great way to create cod paintings if you're doing a complicated landscape underneath, because you don't really want the focus mostly on the clouds. Another note is, as you get closer to the horizon the clouds, do get a little bit skinnier. You want to take the edge of your paper towel and just use that bit once you get closer to the horizon. The more wrinkled and textured your paper towel, the better. Because it'll make more texture in your painting. You can see already how that's pretty effective as creating clouds. For our next one, we're going to do something similar except for instead of dabbing away, we're going to create them with negative space. This is more so like the Alto cumulus. They're have a little bit more substance and the cirrus clouds, they're a little bit smaller, maybe a little bit more dense. I'm going to start at the top again, I got a little bit black and to my paint this time, which is fine. Nothing wrong with that. Then I'm going to move down the sky and then I'm going to carve out corn ball shapes and leave them blank with my paints. I haven't wet the square before I started going. In this way, you do have to do some planning ahead of time. If you are looking at reference pictures, that's always good. But if you mess up, you can always go back in and dab away a little bit and if it's not lifting, you can take your brush with just water in it and scrub away. This helps make it a little bit more fluffy on the edges too. But these curves are just have a little bit more substance there. Then these really flighty, fluffy ones. I'm just taking my wet brush with no paint on it and rubbing out some of the edges. You can always go back in as well. When it's wet on wet add a little bit of more color. One of the most difficult parts of keeping clouds realistic is keeping them random because if they become too orderly, then they just don't want realistic. They look to staged. If they're a little bit like rolling over each other or there's just a hint of it speaking out into the bottom, that works. Just try not to overthink it. Then I'm taking my brush with basically just dirty water, just mostly water but a tiny bit of pigment. I'm just making a little bit of shadows in between these lines. Then I'm going to take a little bit of a darker color and just go underneath where the clouds are. This is like the shadow. There we have three different types of clouds from the easiest to hardest so far. Next step we're going to do some wet on wet clouds. That's going to be combination of these two. I'm going to what the top of this and add in some of my blue. Let this pull down. Then I'm going to take my paper towel and dab it out just in random directions, leaving some of the pigment there. This cloud is going to be like a cumulonimbus cloud, like a soft but still fluffy cloud. You can see already here I have my outline here, so I'm just going to dab more color so that it pulls around the already dried part from where I dab the paper towel. That will give me more of a structure. You can see already how it has that sweeping effect. Since we're moving into the more difficult part now, we are going to be adding a little bit more detail into this cloud. I'm using the reference from cumulonimbus on the worksheet. I'm dabbling in some blue, the light and the dark blue. Then I'm adding a tiny bit of purple as well. That'll just give us a little bit more interest. Then I'm going to use this here at the bottom. Should be a little bit wetter than that. This is going to create the shadows. This cloud will be better if you are focusing a little bit more on the clouds, or maybe focusing equally on their cloud and the landscape as it has a little bit more detail. You don't want to draw your eye away if you're painting a beautiful waterfall and you want that to be a main focus. But if you have a field or simple landscape, then this cloud will work well for it. I'm using this as a light, imagining the light is going this way. If you do any basic shading, it's pretty similar. You just imagine a ball like this rather than a circle, which is the exercise we often do for shading. So the light coming this way, it will cast shadows pooling more at the bottom and on the side. I'm just taking the edge of my brush and mimicking the shadows I see in the reference picture. If it's easier for you, I will make sure to upload this finished sheet when I complete it. You can use my painting as reference too, I sometimes find that to be easier. You want to do a bunch of different layers of blues and purple. Probably blues when you can. The more layers you add, the more of that translucent effect you get. I'm just taking that same color and with a little bit less water going into the parts that are farthest away from the light source. If it's getting a little bit too harsh, you can always go in with your paper towel. If it's not lifting, add some water, softness is what clouds are all about. We want to make sure we have very few hard lines. This is one's mostly done. I'm just going to add a little bit of extra darkness here just to show that it's the bottom of the cloud. Next we're going to use our masking fluid to do a different type of cloud. I'm going to take my masking fluid pen and if you are using the kind that's pop, just a reminder that it can really ruin your brushes. Either use a brush you don't care about or make sure you wash it right away. For this one we're going to work on strata cumulus clouds. I'm going to be using the reference photo of the cloud type sheet. I am going to hopefully squeeze this out, oops. I'm just going to draw the top outline for each of these clouds. Just the top where it's going to be the most sunny, and these guys will have flat bottom. So you just want to keep that in mind if you're doing the tabs underneath piece. Then I'm just going to add a few underneath here and we're going to let this dry and come back with our paint. Now that this is dry, we can go ahead and paint the negative space, so similar to how we've done before, I'm going to wet all of the areas that should be blue, including in between some of these clouds here, and I'm going to drop in some pigments. Using a wet brush set it will spread around and this will create a softer cloud here. I'm not filling in the whole space because I feel like those can be some faraway clouds or maybe some clouds that are mixed in some cirrus clouds and making sure that I let my pigments get a little bit later as we get closer to the horizon. Then I'm going to take this and then go ahead and mix it up and bring it towards the top until my clouds have been filled in, and remember anything that you see pink right now is going to be white. So it's mostly dry at this point and I'm going to take my brush and I'm going to dab in just a tiny bit of black and purple until I have just a dark gray with a lot of water in it and then I'm going to curve out the bottom of these clouds. So if you remember that stratocumulus is flat on the bottom and I'm just going to curve out these flat shapes. As it gets closer to the horizon, I'm going to do my flat shapes closer together to show that they're getting smaller. This guy in the front is going to be our main focus, and then I'm going to add a little bit more blue the shadows and let them spread out and darken up. Just make sure there's no hard edges there or if they are hard edges, at least that they are not straight lines because those don't happen in the clouds very often. So we'll let this dry and look them up to take of masking fluid. Now with the masking fluid off, you can see how we've gotten some really nice transparency here. I'm just going to go in with my blue and re-carve out some of the spaces between the clouds because I feel like they've been lost. So I'm just going to make a few holes in the sky, then you can tell if you're seeing through them. That's not one block of clouds and you can see we've gotten some really nice texture here, which is always good. Then if you want an extra step, you can take an old brush and make sure your paint is dry when you do this relative to make it a little muddy and just rough the edges up. They're not so harsh against the background. Helps make it a little bit fluffier too, and if it's getting too dark, you can always blot away. For our last one, it's the most in-depth. So this is where we're going to bring out our pencil and this is going to be for the cumulus cloud. I'm using that as a reference and I'm just going to draw the outside of the shape. It's just a big, puffy shape, then I'm going to add a little bit of the inside so you can see how there's kind of like this popcorn shape here and there's a little bit of a hill here, and we have a divot here, and this right here is black, and there's kind of an extra cloud here. This whole space takes its own little hill. We've got a general idea of what the cloud is going to look like. Then we're going to take, in this case, actually some unusual colors. I'm going to start out with the pale blue that we have been using before, and I'm going to go ahead and get that really watered down. So it's a really light color, and I'm going to dab that in all of the places where there will be a shadow. I've gotten some yellow on mine. Make sure your palate is clean before you teach a sculpture class. So I'm watering down my blue a lot, so it's bright, but it's still not quite so saturated and I'm going to go into the shadowy parts of this cloud. Again, you've got all these little hill, so it's just basic shading from there, just like you would shade anything else. So I've got my shadow outline basically and then I'm actually going to go in with this pink, and the blue is leftover and add a lot of water to that and add some of that round. You might not see this in the picture but once you see the finished product, you'll see how translucent and full of light it really looks when you add these different colors. So I'm just adding these pinks is really looking cotton candy right now, and then I'm just going to soften these lines. Then I'm going to take some yellow with a lot of water. A lot of water for the yellow and just I'm going to drop it in random spots around the cloud. We'll let this completely dry and will come back. We have some lovely pastel colors at this point, so we going to go ahead and deepen them up. I'm going to take this purple, blue and then mix in a little bit of black to make it a little bit duller, this will be our shadow color. I'm just going to put this in the spots where it's the darkest. According to my reference picture, I have a little divot here and a lot more shadows on the side of the cloud, but then it gets a little bit later as we get in here, and this is something that just comes from looking at the reference pictures and practicing. You get the hang of it as you keep trying. The good thing about clouds is that, you don't even need reference pictures you can just go outside. That's a really fun thing to do. Because there's an endless supply. This point it starts looking like a mess, but don't worry, we'll pull it there. I'm just still adding the darkness for my sketch, and some places are darker than others, so like in this area still have some shadow, but I don't want to be as dark, so I'm not adding more paint in my brush. I'm just going back in with what I was leftover. We'll let this dry and we'll come back. Actually now that I'm looking at him, all my pink has gone away, so I am going to just add a few more hits of pink through out the cloud, I really like how it looks magical with little dabs of pink in there, and the way they mix with the blue gives you a lilac effect, which is just really nice. Now it's completely dry and looking sort of abstract, so I'm going to take my regular blue mix again and I'm not going to wet the paper first, and I am going to do the sky. If you are feeling nervous, you can add masking fluid here, but I usually just go in with the pain itself and you want to stay clear of where the white should be, so we're creating that reverse highlight and carving out the spot, where the clouds are, and if you don't get the lines perfect, don't worry about it, you can always scrub it out a little bit later, in fact, we are going to be doing anyway. I'm just carving away in going in here, and this spot has little bit of fluff and the blue gets closer to the cloud where is the darkest, because there's no light there. You can see how all of a sudden, it's a cloud and so just a bunch of blobs. The reason this technique is so nice and were not dabbing away with paper tells us that we can have more structure, and so at this point I'm going to take my brush and the blue, and I'm just going to add this into the deepest part of the shadows, to create a little bit more cohesion and this is just a light glaze. It's barely even having any paint in there, just helps bring it to more alive with the textures of the sky because it's reflecting those colors with the light and everything. We're getting some granulation here and some people don't like that, but I haven't love how it looks, but if you don't like it, you can just use a little bit less water and scrub it away. So we'll dry this and then we'll come back to make it a little fluffier. So now we have it all dry. I'm just going to take water and go along this edge here, and scrub away a little bit of the blue to add a little bit more fluff and a little bit more softness to this cloud, then I'll take my paper towel and just rub it away. You can see how that creates that soft effect around the edges, which is really striking more so in this version than the last one because this cloud we have here has such a high contrast between the body of the cloud in the sky, which is rubbing that way, and you can also do this within the cloud itself, if you're unhappy with how it looks, but I think it's looking pretty good and I'm just going to go ahead back in with my blue and touch up any areas that I'm not really liking, so I feel like this space here is to blocky. I'm just going to take that away, and I feel it right here does have enough contrast, so I'm going to double up. So let this guy dry. Then I'm just going to take my white drop pen and just trace the outline, to get a little bit more of a sparkle. You can see how you can either take really little time to do your clouds or you can spend a lot of time on it and it depends what the focal point is. If the focal point is your sky, you can spend a little more time and shade it correctly in churches. Or you can just dab away and have the suggestion of clouds, but this will give you a bunch of different methods to use no matter what you want to paint. 5. painting demonstration: blue sky: Now that we've got some skills under our belt, we're going to move on to a full-fledged painting. This one will be having a little bit more details and I will share my reference picture with you so you can follow along with what I'm doing, and of course you can pick your own. But if you're just starting out, it can be helpful to follow along with whatever I'm doing. I've shared the reference picture with you, and I've done a little bit of a sketch and I just want to take a minute to say that for this part of the painting, it's really important that you do the details within the clouds, all of the contours in there until you figure out how to make them freehand. If you are struggling with this portion of painting clouds, feel free to trace if that's what helps you create that muscle memory. Don't be afraid to do that. Just make sure to make no hard edges over here, no perfect circles, just wiggly lines all across the edge. Next, I'm going to mix up my shadow color. I think a dusty lilac. I've got a little bit of the purple, little bit of a dark blue, and then a little black. This creates like a nice shadow color. I'm adding a lot of water to that, and I'm going to start by going into the areas that are the darkest, and in this case we have really dark bottom edge of the cloud. I'm using the flat side of the brush where it's more surface area to get a good wash. Just remember that when it dries down, it will change colors and be way less saturated, usually about 50 percent, depending on the paint use, so don't be afraid to get in there some color. Then I'm going to take it and then with the smaller side of my brush, I'm going to start carving out these contours. I'm wiggling the edge of my brush to create that nice fluffy texture. But we're using not wet on wet, so we can have some finer details. This is why having a precise drawing helps a lot, because in this sort of painting, you really don't have room for errors because with one wrong line with the cloud, it can really throw off the whole piece. Once you've done a little section, I am just going to take a brush and clean it off with my paper towel and add a little water and then I'm going to scrub this out so I can soften up the other side of it. Basically we want hard lines on the top of each contour and then let it fade out. You can see how I'm coming into this next contour, and I'm letting the shadows happen by themselves. No matter what you do, you're not going to be able to make yours look exactly as mine. Just the nature of watercolor, one of the reasons why it's so nice. So try not to let that worry you. Just let your paint do what it wants to do, especially in a painting like this works really well when you're letting it do what it wants, then sometimes those can be the most beautiful pieces. Now that I've blended it out a little bit, you can already see where I'm going with creating this. I'm going to dab a little bit of color right at the contours, the tops of the little hills to deepen it up. I'm just going to add a little bit more of the detail in here because it's not just one large puff, it's spread around. It has little [inaudible] within it. I'm taking my brush again with clean water and fuzzing it out. You can see here, how I accidentally touched a bit of the dark paint. If that happens to you, you can always do it away with your paper towel. Although sometimes those escaping pigments can look really nice. Here I'm scrubbing this solid line now that it's a little bit drier, and I'm just going to add some soft texture here because it's less defined once you get down towards the base. We want some definition, but not too much. Going back in with my shadow color and I'm going to continue doing that wherever I see shadows. I'm running out of paint, so I'm just going to mix as I go. If you struggle with keeping your paint the same color, you can mix a big puddle of it before you start working. That can be really helpful. I'm still sticking where I see the darkest of shadows so that I can start with the most paint on my brush and then just spread it out afterwards. You can see here we have some shadows, but it breaks off into a lighter shadow. I'm adding a little bit more water to my color and adding some texture within this puff. Really painting clouds is painting a bunch of tiny clouds, which is why they can be so difficult, but also so pretty because there is so much detail on those. I'm going to scrub this away a little bit because it's encapsulating, blending over this other cloud. I can't tell from the picture if it's one or two clouds, it looks like it might actually be two. I'm just going to curve out this edge here. The light source in this is really interesting. It's coming from this way, but it's almost coming from behind too so I'm really following the picture where I can because, I'm not trying to make up how do shadows work in that light, complicated. If you choose a reference picture where the sunlight is just coming from the side. If you've ever done the contour drawings where you literally just have a circle and then you shade from one side, then you can basically do that with each portion of the cloud like, this right here is going to have sunlight coming this way, and then you have this shape, exactly when you to do it in a simple circle. You can see how much dimension that adds. It's really nice. I'm making sure to leave a lot of white because that will be the main color when you step away. Although at this point, it looks I'm using really dark colors, when I add in the sky color, the contrast will show the clouds as being shades of white versus this dark purple that it looks like now. A lot of painting clouds also is knowing when to stop because they're easy to overwork. If you get to a point where you feel like maybe you'll be done soon, stop then and then step away from it for a little bit and let it dry because it changes so much when it dries that it can really make a difference on how you view the piece. Then when he come back, you'll have fresh eyes to look at it. If I'm doing a big piece I like to leave it overnight before I call it finished, just so I can make sure if I need to add any extra textures. This mixture of hard and soft edges is looking really good, that helps us to really show some extra dimension and have a lot of textures. I've got all of my shadows lightened at this point and a lot of this is more or less dry. It's at that point where it's a little bit glossier on the surface in some areas and other areas, not so much. Next, I'm going to make a gold color. I'm going to mix in mostly water and that is why you should start with a clean palette. Do as I say, not as I do. Then I'm going to add a lot of water and add in some yellow and a little bit of orange into that to make a deeper yellow and with a lot of extra water we'll get a nice sunny color. I'm going to use that just to add a little bit more luminescence into the piece. I'm just dropping it in, especially in places where it's still wet because then it will create a nice glaze. This helps you have a lot more dimension into your clouds and especially since this is the main subject of our piece, it's nice to have a little bit more interest. Once it dries, it'll be not so distinct with the different colors that we're using in here, they'll blend away to the eye and just give it a really good texture. I'm just adding that. You can always add more but you can't allow to take stuff away is easy. Although you can dub it away while it's still wet like this but if once it dries, you feel like it needs more, you can do that. I'm going to do the same thing, but I'm going to mix up a really pale red and drop that to it and that'll just warm everything up, which will really make the contrast pop for the sky. Before I let this dry, I feel like I need a little more definition up here, so I am going to add a little bit more shadow, a little bit too dark, and a little bit more water. It helps to do the step when you've had a little bit of wet paint and the light colors because the way they blend together can make some really interesting shapes, especially these peripheral marketing palletes they have some really nice granulation, which happens when you're adding bunches of layers and lots of water. Just deepening up where I need to and take my brush and soften this edge. At this point it starts to look a little like a mess. But don't worry, once it dries and you add the sky, it makes all the difference. I'm going to go ahead and take my paper towel and I'm going to dub away some of the areas where I feel like we could use a little bit more lightness, both in values and in texture. That like fuzzy textures. Perfect. Next, we are going to let this dry and we'll come back to do the sky. Before we add in the sky, I'm just going to wet a little bit of the edges of this, not a lot of them, just here and there and you'll see why. Next, I'm going to mix up that same color, I'm going to combine the two blues and I think I might add a tiny bit of purple just for a little bit of texture. I am going to start with my brush here. This is where all of the paint is going to be concentrated so it'll have the darkest color on top. Once I add water, it starts to lighten up which you can see already. Then as I get in here, I'll let it touch the edge and so we'll create really soft edge here. Then for the rest of this we'll make sure to get nice hard edges so that we can have them really well-defined. I'm staying away from the painted portions of the cloud as best I can so I can leave a little bit of that white for that nice highlight. You can see how it's traveling in there already. Make nice soft inch there. If you find it easier, you can always mask in fluid around the edges of your clouds and then dab the [inaudible] layer. Like here I feel like at the very top we need a little more softness. I'm just going to dab away. Here you see how nice and soft that edge is. A lot of pictures actually has some textures to clouds in the background but I think I'm going to leave ours more flat so that I can have the really built up contrast and have the focus be on the front cloud. I'm going to do another wash here. I like to have a darker edge when I get close because it can really define the edges and let them really sink. Even though it's technically breaking a rule of having the sky get lighter as it gets closer to the horizon. But I have artistic license and so do you, we can do that if we want. We can see I'm not just making this motion with my brush to carbon to the top. I'm not so much following my pencil lines anymore. I'm more seeing what looks correct. You can see now how that really defines the whole shape of the cloud, makes it look much more realistic. Contrast is key. You can see now too that we have the background and the cloud paint itself is dry. How the colors are really faded into being ambiguous. They're just shifting colors and really look light. Great. So we'll let this dry and then I'll come back maybe do another layer of the sky depending on how it looks and definitely add in a little bit more darkness and detail into the cloud. I'm definitely going to add in some more darkness in this corner here, it looks like you've gotten some good darkness there and not so much on this other side. I'll add some in there and some right here because this detail been lost. Just continuing that method of dabbing away to soften the edges or using my brush with just water in it. Obviously I'm not doing every contour exactly how it shows in the photo. I am just picking, and choosing what I think I can do. Obviously, you could pick at this forever , and if you do every contour, that would be awesome. I bought this yet, but I feel like I can get a softer, and more magical effect when I just pick, and choose what I want to do. This part here is really tricky because we have that light coming in from the side. So I'm actually going to take my brush with just water in it and I'm going to scrub it away so that there's more light coming in. Let that drive and I'll come back, and I will carve out this side. So that you can see that where the light is coming from. A little bit easier. I feel like I'm starting to get to that point where I might over paint. So I'm going to try to wrap it up. I'm going to just carve out this like I said. Yeah, that's much better. An interesting lighting situation. Then I'm just going to add a little bit more of that pale red color. Feel like we're missing it now. I'm just going to dive a log. I'm concentrating it around the shadows, but I don't want them to bleed too much like that just did. So I'm trying to stay away a little bit from them, but just in the same general area. Like shadow compliment, okay? Let's do another round of a skywash in that drag before do some final touches. Before I call this piece done , I'm just going to check my values. So a trick I like to use for this is to squint my eyes, and then once you squint, it makes the lights lighter and the darks darker so you can see where you need to add a little bit more paint. So I'm really seeing like in this area I've got a harsh line, and then on this side, definitely need some more darkness, and maybe a little bit in the bottom too. So I'm going to do that, and then we'll be done. So I'm going to start out in this area, and just add too dark. Add a little bit more depth here. Soften some of these lines. Just a little bit more dimension needed in this side. Just as a general rule, you only want one side of your shadow to be a hard line, everything else to remain soft. So I'm just making sure to do that. Getting rid of that hard line there. Adding some cloud bottoms here. We've got sort of an extra cloud here. So I'm going to take this opportunity to put in. Just using my paper towel to get soft edge. Let this guy dry. Then scrub away a little bit at some of these edges, and just soften them up. So scrub, damp, instant fluff. Feel like this area here is a really good place for fluff. Just make sure we want to connect them back to well defined places so that they don't look like they're two separate clouds. There you go. At this point you can curl it here, or you can take your white pen, and just add a little bit of highlight at the very top. It'll dry down with not so much contrast, but it kind of creates a nice texture. It works too, if you want to do over some of the contours. Like I'm definitely going to go over this loop, kind of give it that little punch, a blight. I'm just keeping my grip really loose so that I can have really wiggly lines into what we want. Forgot about pen control. That what we are here. Don't forget to sign it. 6. painting demonstration : sunset sky: Going beyond clear blue, cloudy skies. Now, we'll do one that with a little bit more color and a little more interest to it. I'm going to start out by wetting my paper, and I'm just going to let my blue wash trickle in at the top. Then as we get closer to the horizon, I'm going to add a little pink into the blue. Then once I get even closer, I'm going to add some orange, and blend in these together to get a really nice gradient. Next, I am going to take my paper towel, I'm going to dab away where we're going to have to have the sun. Which in my reference picture is it right about here. It doesn't have to be a perfect circle. In fact, it looks better if it's not, because it's reflecting off the clouds, it's not just the sun itself. I'm just making sure it's really white in the middle and then it blends out to create that light. I'm going to add a little bit more pigment, because I know that this is going to dry much lighter. It's really nice how you can create different types of skies using esteem shapes that we've already learned. But just switching up the colors using different types of reference pictures, but using all the same techniques. I'll let this dry a little bit and then come back when it's still a little glossy. It's still a little bit wet, but not so much, and I'm going to take purple mixed with a little bit of black and dark blue to create my shadow a cloud color. I'm going to just drop this in, where I see clouds in my reference picture, so here I'm just using both the side and the tip of my brush to create an irregular shape. I'm doing it in the top, and just letting the paint spread out. Now that's a little bit drier we have a little bit more control over where the clouds are going, which is helpful. Because if it's wet all the way, it just becomes part of the gradient. Here we have a little bit more of a formed cloud, and I can just use it with brush too. Filled it up, and I'm dabbing away with my paper towel, if it gets too strong anywhere. Another bonus of doing paintings like this is that the contrasts happens really quickly, so you start to see how it looks right away. Something I really liked about this too is the tiny little clouds, so I'm just going to use the very tip of my brush and increase more regular shapes like they're far away. It was nice to leave some negative space around the clouds that can't help scrape your forms. Then here, I'm going to make sure I use smaller strokes to match my references, because we also have to come in and do a little bit of highlighting where the sun is hitting them. I'm using a little bit water here, pigment here because our clouds are getting lighter and this area. Next, we're going to pick up some oranges. I'm going to take orange mixed with a little bit of red, in just a dot of blue to tone it down, and we're going to use this to create some clouds over here. First I'm going to dab it in this, to create that light and over here as well, and add in some clouds here. These ones are farther away, so I dab them out. Whenever you go over the section where the sun is, can just dab it away again to restore the light. Here we go. I'm also going to go in with the pink and add lots of water to that, add a little bit of orange to it, so it's a little bit more of a coral shade, and use that to wash down here. If you prefer cleaner like you can do this before you start adding in your clouds. But I like to see how it starts to look before, I start adding in a bunch of colors for this piece, if you feel like you can go overboard pretty quickly. But if that's your style, more power to you. I'm going to soften this water line up so we don't have it. Dabble it back at my sun, so we don't lose it. I think we could do with a tad more pink. Great. Let's dry a little bit more and then come back and touch up these clouds back here. Actually, I just noticed that one of these clouds here, actually it fades to a little darker color so I'll just add that in. We've got a darker pink for these setback pinker clouds. Then we'll come back to finish our purpley clouds. I'll let this dry and then come back. We're getting some good depth already, which is great, so I'm going to mix it that purple black color again. Just with purple, blue and a little bit of black and adding some clouds back down here that we washed away when we added in the pink. This pink, and orange, and yellow clouds where the sun is are more setback. I'm just going to keep it light over here because this is where the sun will be touching. Just mimic the shapes I see using irregular brush in motion. I'm just adding that along, so we don't have anything to regular and manufactured looking. Again, I'm using that trick where I squint my eyes every where once in a while to see how my values are looking. I'm going to really darken up this area so that we can have the contrast with the sun. By dabbing away at these clouds, I have that transparency come through, little fluffier. Are you sick of hearing me say fluffy at this point? If you are, then you shouldn't watched the cloud class, what else were we going to talk about. Mixing a little bit more because we have some spot of clouds here, but I'm going to use a lighter brush this time and start with just a little bit more water so that it has a little bit less structure to it because these are a little bit softer. Great. I also have a few little dots in here. They're just spreading out little pieces of flyaway clouds. I'll dab a little bit at those. Definitely go in with a bit of a darker color and deepen up these stormy clouds. I really like the shapes that have come from the wet on wet, so I'm going to try not to mess with those and just add in a little bit extra. It's especially dark around the edges, which is what makes it so striking because it had that [inaudible] , so I'm going to mimic that in my painting. I'm not following it exactly, I'm just using as a reference for how the clouds look and how the shapes are. Obviously with watercolor, it's difficult. You can do it copying exactly, but it takes the fun out of it. Having that transparency and no more messes is what makes watercolor so fun. Okay. I think this is looking really good. I'm going to let it dry so I can see how the colors look at and then maybe come back and add a little bit more darkness before I call it finished. I'm just going to add a little bit more to the shadows of the piece and then I'm going to come into this area too, because I feel like that could use a little bit more detail for. This is all said and done. I'm going to take that pink and just darken it up with a hint of the purpley black, blue color we made and just add a little bit more clouds here. But make sure to soften them up because they're meant to be behind the dark clouds, so we wouldn't be able to see the details as well. Okay I feel like this is looking really good. I'm going to go reference picture and add in some birds to this piece. I just feel like it will be at some nice interest. You might have in school added birds to your paintings like this when you're a kid. What we're going to do is we're going to make those look a little bit more organic by adding some shape to the wings, instead of having that we have the, the joints and the dimension of the bird. I'm going to make a few shapes. There we go. That's like the hint of birds in the distance and you can know that they get smaller as they go back or that they are always flying with their wings up sometimes they have their wings downwards. From far away, that's all you can see if it was like these simple shapes. I'm just going to add in a few here. First, I'm going to dab this way because I'm going to put my hand in it for sure. I'm using actually pure black for this. If you're a watercolor appears, you can always mix your own black, but I really like the black that comes with this palettes, so I'm going to use it. I'm just using a light hand and pressing down as a little bit as I get towards the body and make little bird shapes and then add a little body here. Then I'm going to add in some smaller ones behind this guy, like he's a leader. I'm not going to add a ton of birds, because I don't want them to be the focal point of this piece, they're just added interest. Birds are really fun to add two for sea paintings. Okay. This is good. I'm going to just try and take the tape off. 7. inspiration & project: Before I send you off to paint, I wanted to point you to this great website, which is the Cloud Appreciation Society. They also have Instagram and they often show you what kind of clouds they are, and there's some really gorgeous pictures on there that you can get some inspiration from. For your class project, you can either paint along with me in one of the painting references or do the studies worksheet, or you can do whatever reference picture you find. Bonus points if you paint in planar. I can't wait to see what you paint. Be sure to tag me at E-K-ARCHER or hashtag E-K-ARCHERSkillshare so I can check out your work, and I'll see you in the next class. 8. bonus sketching tip: I thought I'd do something quick. Just if you are trying to paint watercolor clouds and you just don't want any of the background for anything like that, just some tricks to be able to drop. I'm going to start out by drawing just a bunch of circles together. Overlapping circles, just like if you're drawing a bunch of balloons, but irregularly shaped balloons. Now I'm going to take my eraser and I'm just going to erase away a little bit of the overlaps. This helps create the little contours of your cloud. Right here I have this one, which looks really good, and I'm going to do this one, which goes farther along. Of course they are never clouds. At this point, I might add in one here or there, and then I take my pencil and I'm just going to make a jagged edge, so I'm moving my pencil at the non like this. You could also use a pen. If you use a waterproof pen , you can watercolor over it. At this point, I have my outlining shape and then I'm going to make a little bit more of a straight line at the bottom, but not completely straight. I'm going to make the same lines over here. If I we're to be doing this in my own work, I would do it a lot lighter, but I'm doing it darker so that you can see it on camera. At this point, you can erase over everything or you can ink it, whatever you want to do. I'm going to erase so that I can lighten up all those lines. Then we can do the same techniques like we did with the big cloud painting. Make some shadow colors to trace over those, the wiggly lines. I'm pretending my light sources going this way. Add from the bottom with a clean brush just to soften it out. Then all you have to do is take the blue and leave a good border around here, and we've got nice fluffy cloud.