How to Paint a Sunset

Today I’ll be covering the basics of painting a sunset with you. To make this tutorial, I used Photoshop, but the same basic principles apply whether you’re doing a digital painting, or a traditional one.

Step 1

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To get our sunset started, we are first going to put down a base of orange. It doesn’t really matter if this orange is the perfect hue or not, because we will be blending it with some other colors later.

Step 2

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Next we are going to layer on some black at the bottom of our canvas. For this example, I’m going to be doing a mountain scene beneath my sunset.

Add some bright yellow radiating from the center of your page. This is of course where the sun will go.

Step 3

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Clean up your mountains a little bit and give them some more definition. As you can see from the image, I’ve also added a second row of mountains that are a deep red color. This gives the illusion of depth, as if the mountains are fading into the horizon.

Step 4

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Add a bright white sun hanging in the center of your sky—directly in the brightest area of yellow.

Step 5

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Next we will need to add a opaque layer of yellow over the bottom half of the canvas. This small amount of yellow creates some of the haze that often you see during a sunset.

Step 6

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What’s a sunset without clouds? Well still technically a sunset… but it’s not one that I want in my life. Paint in some sparse clouds that are bright yellow at the bottom (which is the side facing the sun), and a darker red on top.

Step 7

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Finally, add a little bit of a deeper red across the top of your painting to give your sunset a bit more dimension. And don’t forget to share your own sunset painting with me on our facebook page, or by email to [email protected]!

And if you’re looking for a little more help, check out this video from Aaron Rutten where he shows us how to do a sunset over an ocean. Really beautiful work!