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Classic: How To Paint A Seascape

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Step 1: Framing A Sketch


If you don’t have one already, make a viewfinder by cutting two L-shaped strips of paper (called “angle bands” by Steve). Their length and width should be large enough to frame your reference picture. Place it on the reference picture so that it frames what you want to paint and cuts out what you don’t need, then tape the frame to the picture using masking tape. Think about the final painting’s composition and the best way to present the lighthouse in the picture. After that, do a quick value sketch of your composition on a piece of scrap paper or in your sketchbook, which means deciding where each value goes and shading your sketch accordingly. For example, light values should be the clouds, the water spray, and the highlights on the lighthouse, whereas mid-values go to the sky and rocks, while dark values go to the shadows and deepest parts of the ocean. Keep checking your reference as a guide. This overall sketch should not take too long to complete.

Below is a close-up of Steve’s value sketch: