How to Draw Clouds with Colored Pencils

In this article, we will discourse about how to draw clouds with colored pencils. Before sitting down to draw clouds, it is important to focus on a few things to make sure your cloud drawing comes out looking it’s absolute best. In this article, I will tell you how to draw clouds using colored pencils, and albeit digital medium is taking the world of creating art by storm, there is still a very large population of artists and creative people who turn to this traditional method which is in a class by itself.

What You Need to Know About Drawing Clouds and Skies

Clouds just might be one of the most alluring phenomena that the world has to offer. What’s even more baffling is that the purpose of clouds was inherently not to possess a pleasing semblance for its audience. It is without a shadow of a doubt that there is no end to the magnificence and artistry that these airy children of Mother Nature have to offer.

Clouds have been the subject of great fascination in artists for a very long time now. From John Constable’s display of a remarkable comprehension of the structure of clouds in ‘Study of Clouds’ (1882) to Vincent van Gogh’s ecstatic expression of spiraling whirling bodies in ‘The Starry Night’ (1889) to Bob Ross teaching to paint ‘happy clouds’ on the show The Joy of Painting, clouds remain unparalleled when it comes to inspiring a tranquilizing emotion that has the power to captivate its audience without a doubt.

The first thing to keep in mind is that clouds are consistently changing their shape and form, and always moving. Moreover, it is also very important to focus on the kind of cloud you want to draw.

This step does not need to be an absolute one but there is no harm in learning some cloud trivia so the next time you choose a cloud as a reference, you’ll instantly know its name, shape, color, movement, and height in the sky.

Some of the more commonly seen clouds in the sky include altocumulus, cirrocumulus, cirrus, cumulonimbus, cumulus, and stratocumulus. Clouds can be easily categorized into three major categories: puffy (cumulo-form), thick layer (strato-form), and wispy (cirro-form).

It is best to identify clouds as part of some larger category to not confuse them with the other ones. After you’ve developed a knack for identifying clouds, you can focus on where they appear in the sky and the weather they are expected to occur in. By following these tips, even moderately, you will be able to add depth and a substantial amount of character into your drawings.

How to Draw Clouds with Colored Pencils
How to Draw Clouds with Colored Pencils

Drawing Clouds Using Colored Pencils

After you have understood the basic principles behind the structures of clouds, you can easily focus on the reference picture you will be using for the drawing you plan on making. Moreover, you need to also make sure that you have decided the environment for your cloud drawing as this plays a very important role in juxtaposing it with the sky landscape by accentuating and bringing the clouds to the foreground.

Step 1: Why You Should Focus on Starting With Light Strokes

Whenever you plan to make a cloud drawing with colored pencils, it is very important to avoid applying any more pressure than you should. Moreover, don’t start by using heavy strokes and focus on gentle movements to shade the outlines for your clouds.

As you stick to applying only light pressure in the beginning, make sure you utilize this to outline the clouds and the horizon. This will allow you to pave way for the coming steps afterward. The color recommended using for outlining the clouds can be anywhere from sky blue to medium blue, whereas you can make use of gray or green color to outline the horizon.

Only a single color can also be used for outlining both the clouds and the horizon, but it depends on the pressure you apply and the intensity of your strokes which will help bring out the distinction between the two.

Also, you must ensure that the edges of the clouds are not too defined, as this will defeat the overall look of the clouds since clouds are not very pronounced at the edges.


To accentuate the character of your clouds, you can use at least two shades of blue, like a French sky blue color paired with morning blue, or a shadow blue. You can also compare and contrast and see what shades of blue and gray will give the best results.

You should also keep in mind the color of the sky your clouds will be reflecting before you start mixing and blending. If your clouds are supposed to be reflecting a sunset view, then it will be best-suited to add yellowish-orange hues to the outlines of the clouds and the horizon.

Step 2: Why Is It Important to Focus on Blending the Clouds with the Sky

Moving on to shading the sky, you will need to focus on the same shade that you used for outlining the clouds. For doing this, it is suggested you use light strokes and keep external pressure to a minimum, and make sure that your movement is such which gives the final outcome an even look.

Begin at the top and make sure your colored pencil is sharp enough to give a smooth result. From there onward, take the color and layer it in a manner that goes about three-quarters of the space below the sky.

After doing that, lightly add a tinge of a blue color with a reduced value. This will add some dimension to the structure of the clouds and build the foundation for the later steps. For the following step, begin at the top again, however, this time you should use the blue shade to cover the area all the way to the horizon.

As you continue layering the horizon, focus on using light pressure and gentle movements with all the colors that you’ve incorporated up until now, and make sure to get at least two layers of each step. Moreover, work your way around the clouds in soft, rotating motions to give them a soft, airy appearance.

How to Draw Clouds with Colored Pencils
How to Draw Clouds with Colored Pencils

Step 3: Why You Should Focus on the Sky Color When Blending

It is important to note that clouds are not entirely grayscale and are often mistaken to be white. However, to add a touch of depth and dimension to your clouds, you need to incorporate the surrounding color of the sky in the form of shadows where you want the clouds to thin out and appear less condensed from the rest of the body.

This will allow the colors of the sky to show through the thin wispy layers and make the cloud appear more realistic and three-dimensional. You can also bring out the color by blending with a paint thinner or solvent until you’re satisfied with the result.

Step 4: How to Focus on Contrasts and Sameness

When applying light strokes to blend the colors of your clouds, make sure to use an equal and well-distributed amount of contrast and sameness to create a more realistic effect. Adding too much contrast leaves very little room for focus in the clouds, whereas, having very little to no contrast can cause your clouds to look blurred out and too flat.

Moreover, to give your clouds an overall realistic look, you need to identify the light source where the light is coming from. After deciding on the light source, make sure you remain consistent with the direction of the light so it shows through evenly in your clouds.

Step 5: Why You Should Focus on Using Dark Values to Shade the Clouds

After you have layered and blended the bigger portions of the clouds, you need to focus on observing the middle part of the clouds and deduce which areas would work best with the darkest values of colors ranging from one or two medium values bluish-grays.

To do this, use a sharp pencil and use careful strokes to create multiple layers that showcase the depth and difference in values, balancing the contrast and sameness.

Also, don’t forget to take note of the areas where the clouds overlap and blend into each other. You can use this space to reflect some portion of the sky’s colors or use multiple layers of yellowish ivory color with light gray color to bring attention to the overlapping.

Step 6: Why You Should Focus on Shadows and Values

To accentuate the middle area of the clouds, you can take it up a notch by increasing the darkness of the shadows and the middle values by using alternating layers of the blue you used in the previous steps.

You can also incorporate hues of a medium gray or a relatively soft gray-blue color during this process. Use this technique to create an effect where the shadow effortlessly merges with the shades of blue and gray in the middle area.

Some of The Best Color Pencils for Drawing Clouds

Here are some of the best color pencils that you can use to draw clouds:


After you’re done with shading and creating depth in your clouds, you can continue to balance the layering and blending until you’re satisfied with the final result of the drawing. Clouds may be one of the people’s favorite things to draw out there, although it can be quite challenging in the beginning, it is nevertheless a meditative experience.

Learning to draw clouds will provide you with a multitude of options to observe and then translate them onto paper. Because they are so unique yet versatile at the same time, clouds are an excellent way to get yourself to start drawing.

So I hope this article helps you understand how to draw clouds with colored pencils if so please leave a comment and also share this article with your friends.

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