Clouds -Easy Tips for Better Watercolor Clouds

Watercolor clouds are made simpler with these easy tips for better clouds. Work wet on wet and don’t over mix your colors for luminous watercolor clouds. Softening edges makes a huge improvement and can be applied even to other already finished paintings.

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Easy Tips for Painting Better Clouds

student cloud painting from tutorial on How to Paint Clouds in Watercolor by watercolor teacher Deb Watson
This student used her own favorite colors.

Your watercolor clouds can be amazing when you follow these suggestions –

  • Mix more color than you think you’ll need
  • Work wet on damp for soft edges
  • Use a big brush
  • Paint blue in the sky.
  • Paint the clouds and dry.
  • Paint the sky a more saturated color, darker at the top and getting lighter as it goes toward the bottom.
  • Add more paint to clouds, if desired.
  • Soften cloud edges or lift out color for more interest and soft edges.
  • Keep adjusting color by adding paint or lifting.
  • Add opaque white for some real sparkling white.

Cloud Painting Demo Video

Best Paints for Watercolor Clouds

Picking the Best Colors for Watercolor Clouds

Most blues can make excellent skies, but Cobalt and Ultramarine are less likely to turn green than any blue with Phthalo Blue. You can always mix your blues to make a color you like the best.

Original reference photo for painting watercolor clouds - watercolor tutorial by artist Deb Watson
Original reference photo for cloud video above

Primary colors, (red, yellow and blue) are excellent for blending every nuance of color found in clouds.

  • Cobalt or Ultramarine Blue
  • Quinacridone Red (not very much)
  • Lemon Yellow (again, not very much)
Original watercolor painting of steeple in downtown Lancaster PA, by award winning watercolor artist and teacher, Deb Watson

For best results, work wet on damp and let the colors mix in your brush or on your paper – don’t overmix the colors on your palette.

Best Opaque Whites for Watercolor Clouds

Any good opaque white will work, but I recommend Bleed Proof White by Dr. Martin or Pro White by Daler Rowney. (Affiliate links)

Keep Your Clouds Simple

Too many individual clouds are not pleasing to the eye. You’ll have better results if you mass your cloud areas into three to five main bits (uneven numbers are better). This also makes it less difficult to paint!

Softening Edges and Lifting Out Clouds

There are many ways to soften the watercolor edges of clouds, including clouds you’ve already painted. How well your clouds lift and soften depends on the type of paper you used, and the paints.

  • Reactivate the paint and dab it back up with a paper towel. You can use a watercolor brush, a scrubbing brush, or even a toothbrush to rub and reactivate the paint.
  • Lift off hard edges with a small piece of damp Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser (available at your local grocery store in the cleaning aisle.)

Watercolor clouds can be as simple or as complex as YOU like.

Watercolor teacher Deb Watson uses simple tips to improve student’s painting in just one lesson. Her easy to follow painting steps let beginners to advanced students find success.

I never paint dreams or nightmares - only my own reality - Frida Kahlo