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Painting A Sky With Wispy Cirrus Clouds & Snow-Capped Mountains

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Step 1: Initial Outline Sketch


For this tutorial, it’s best if you have either a live view of wispy clouds and mountains in the background, or a reference picture to work from. This way, you can study the shapes created by different colors and tones, and practice focusing on the design of your overall painting instead of simple objects. Doing so will help you discard any preconceptions on what certain things should look like instead of what you actually see.

To start, sketch a frame around the area you’ll be painting, then draw in the outlines of cirrus (i.e. “wispy”) clouds. In order to emphasize the sky, use about two thirds of the drawing for the sky and clouds, then sketch in some mountains along the bottom. A basic plan or idea of the overall design is enough, as any details can be changed later. Sketch in the shadow shapes on the mountains as well (you can use a wrinkled, ridged paper towel to give you an idea of what they should look like).

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