watercolor sky tutorial

How to Paint a Watercolor Sky (with Clouds & Sun at Sunset)

In this tutorial, you will learn how to paint a watercolor sky with a magnificent multi-colored watercolor sunset and plenty of fluffy watercolor clouds.

Thanks to Maria for helping put this tutorial together.

Watercolor Supplies to Use:

  • Round 10 ‘Ultimo’ Watercolor Paintbrush
  • Princeton Watercolor Brushes Round 0 Velvet touch
  • Silver Brush Limited 1” ‘Black Velvet’
  • Strathmore Watercolor Paper 140lb Imperial
  • Masking Tape
  • 2 Jars of Clean Water
  • Paper Towels
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Watercolor Painting a Sky and Clouds at Sunset

Without further ado, let’s get started. . .

Step 1: Tape your canvas and wet the paper

Place masking tape surrounding all four sides of your paper to a sturdy surface. 

With your 1” brush, coat the water with a layer of clean water. 

How to Paint a Watercolor Sky: Wet Paper

Step 2: Painting the sky (first layer)

Use the same brush to mix Phthalo Blue and Burnt Sienna (or a variation of these pigments). If you would like, you can add a variation similar to Quinacridone Red. 

Begin to make horizontal strokes of wet on wet starting from the top of the page and following semi-straight lines all the way across the page.

How to Paint a Watercolor Sky: Painting the sky

You can see how light and watery the strokes are. Don’t make it darker than that. Remember, adding layers will naturally make it darker later on. 

Step 3: Add vibrant primary colors

As you move down your paper, your mixtures should involve more yellows and reds. We use a yellow ochre mostly.

(Sorry for the light’s glare in the photo, just note that the white area should also be coated in light pigment.)

How to Paint a Watercolor Sky: Add vibrance, primary colors

Step 4: Work on contrasting colors

Using the Round 10 ‘Ultimo’ brush, pick a point about two-thirds of the way down your paper and stroke a darker shade of blue across the paper.

Then, do another symmetrical line on the upper half.

How to Paint a Watercolor Sky: Working in contrasting colors

Now, you can make darker strokes of a red and blue mixture at the bottom of your watercolor art.

How to Paint a Watercolor Sky: Watercolor sunset and clouds

This should make the red-pink colors really stand out. If not, there’s a solution for that. . . More red! Use the contrasting colors to make your layers pop.

How to Paint a Watercolor Sky: Watercolor clouds

Step 5: Smooth your layers and let it dry

Smoothing layers is easier while paint is wet. Where the layers blend should resemble watercolor clouds. That’s why they need to be smooth and soft.

Give your streaky-red watercolor sunset perspective and make sure that watercolor sun is putting on a show!

Step 6: Add the final touches

You can add birds flying off into the watercolor sunset by sketching them with a black pen and using a watercolor pen to trace and darken. 

This isn’t required, but is a great way to finish off the piece!

How to Paint a Watercolor Sky: Add birds

And there you have it! A simple watercolor sky and sunset.

If you would like more watercolor tutorials and techniques, you can check out our watercolor landscapes tutorials here.

Feel free to share your paintings with us and let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!

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About the Author: Watercolor Classes

Hello, and welcome to our site. We've been passionate about watercolor for years and have learned a lot along the way. We hope our tutorials and tips will help you out on your watercolor journey. Let's make art together!

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