What will you create
Do you also sometimes admire the incredible beauty of the sky? In this tutorial, I will tell you how to draw beautiful, realistic clouds using Adobe Photoshop.
I will teach you to create cumulus, cirrus and thunderstorm clouds with the help of various brushes. In the process, I will talk about my favorite tools and techniques for creating incredible, realistic effects.
Looking for source images? These drawings, for example, were inspired by Envato’s amazing collections of clouds. Here you can search for quality stock images.
How to work with almost any cloud image
Many people are opposed to using source images because of fears that this approach will lead to laziness. However, this look is a bit outdated.
We absolutely need to understand what we see!
Most of what we draw imitates already existing objects. And for this lesson it is important to understand that in your drawing you can simulate the general atmosphere or composition of any photo. Try to recreate some special moments that you can also change to create some kind of effect.
I will use several stock images with Envato Elements. You can also search your own sources if you feel the need.
I didn’t rely too much on the first image, while the other two helped me create different color schemes and lighting schemes. This is another reason to keep image drains “at hand”.
Organize a workplace
Now you need to organize your workplace so that it is convenient for you to look at the source.
Click Window > Arrange > 2-Up Vertical (Window> Arrange> 2 up, vertically).
This solution is very convenient if you prefer to keep the source in a separate file: it will help you better study the photo for realistic details.
And now let’s draw!
1. How to draw a regular cumulus cloud
Let’s start with the background!
In Photoshop, create a new document with a size of 900 by 450 pixels and a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. Small documents are good for practice.
Click on the background layer to create a new one. Then add a layer style. Gradient overlay (Gradient overlay, type – linear) sky blue (using the following shades: # b3d0dd, # 90dcff and # 68c1f0) with the following settings:
Here’s what happens:
For the following steps, you will need a graphics tablet.
Then, using a big round soft brush, draw a soft blue dot (colors # 3a6997) – this will be the shadow, and on its background the cloud will stand out well.
On a new layer:
With a hard round brush (100% Hardness (stiffness) and Opacity (opacity)) draw a cloud shape with the color # adb7c0. Start with a simple form before moving on to more complex ones.
Begin to set light shadows on the cloud.
Make a new layer with a clipping mask to the original layer and change its blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication). Use the same color as before to draw the shadows on the cloud, and a clipping mask will help to keep the shadows where needed.
Start painting with a 100% stiffness and opacity brush, and then gradually lower both values as you soften the shadow.
Create a basic texture.
Using brushes from the earlier set, draw light curved vertices on the cloud. Use white and light gray (# 94a8bc) colors to immediately start creating a light scheme.
Add a little blue color to the background, and then merge the layer-clipping masks and the original cloud shape.
I used Fast Acrylic brushes and Wet Gouache Wet Gouache in this step.
Lightly wipe off hard edges with the tool. Eraser (Eraser) (E) with 20-40% opacity.
Now that we have a good foundation, we can move on!
As before, start drawing more shadows on the cloud. Zoom to 200% to draw texture lines, this will add extra depth. Check that the option is turned on. Pen Pressure for Opacity (Using pressure to determine opacity).
Switch to a rigid round brush with opacity adjustment by pressing from the standard brush set. With its help, work out small areas where the cloud merges with the sky.
The clouds have “pockets” of light and shadow (see below), so that in the future plan the areas where you want to create depth and movement. Add some gray blotches for a realistic transition.
Let the cloud evolve naturally. Periodically go back to the sources, but do not let them distract you.
Using a round soft brush with 0% opacity, surround the cloud with a soft mist.
Let’s adjust colors with adjustment layers.
To begin, add a new adjustment layer. Gradient Map (gradient map) in light blue (# c6cbd4 and # b4cbdc), change the blending mode to Color Burn (Blackout basics).
Create a new adjustment layer. Levels (Levels) with settings as in the screenshot below. This will add clarity, which is necessary for this image.
Now that we have reached the required intensity, we can move on to drawing details. First, let’s balance the sky.
A quick way to draw a sky is just to use a new layer. On it with a soft round brush paint in light blue.
Constantly change the opacity, and do not worry if it looks sloppy!
A soft brush is more suitable for cirrus clouds, but a hard edge will help highlight the details.
Continue to work on the background, adding small clouds somewhere in the distance. Create a sense of depth by drawing a cloud of mist around the cloud.
Now that we have the right colors, we can focus on the final touches.
Add new layers, and on them try to paint the twists with the help of brushes of various shapes. Switch to brush Chalk (Chalk) to add realism to your clouds – the additional texture will immediately make them more lively and real.
Finally, add a touch of yellow to show the effect of sunlight on the cloud and sky.
But the final image!
2. How to draw thunder clouds
To portray a thundercloud, we will have to change the lighting scheme.
Let’s start with the sky. Create a document with the same parameters as before. Right-click on the first layer, and go to Blending Options (Overlay options).
Select Gradient Overlay (Gradient overlay) and using colors # 373984 and # 6364ad create a purple gradient.
This is what should happen:
I felt that creating sketches for these drawings is not necessary. For me personally, the best way to get started is to create a new layer, and draw a cloud shape of purple (# 5354a6) color.
As before, I create a clipping mask for each shape to draw the first layer of light and shadow.
At this stage, I used the tool Brush (Brush) (B), namely a soft round brush with a stiffness of 0% and opacity of 50%.
Draw as you see. To draw shadows, draw dark (# 33367f) round tubercles, and lighter points, to draw light areas. It will look very strange at first, but clipping masks will help you develop your skills.
Under the cloud layer create a new layer. On it add a soft (brush opacity 1-40%) white glow behind the clouds, for now it is too dark.
Add more background elements. Start with dark fluffy clouds, and then add a shadow at the bottom of the picture – this is our city. Use the tool to select colors. Eyedropper (Eyedropper) (E), and paint using those shades that are already present in the image.
On new layers, draw lightning.
Trust your intuition. Notice that the pattern changes as I change the original composition. (https://elements.envato.com/lightnings-in-genova-PT5D3YJ?_ga=2.159379450.1386686125.1504629647-250820929.1491318132)
And now we mix, we mix, we mix!
Lower Hardness (hardness) to 0% and soften the sky on new layers. Make it big, strong, and curl.
movements to make the result look like real clouds.
Continue to work on the drawing. Try to achieve a softer result before moving on to the details. Later, when you already understand the foreground details, it will be more difficult to soften the background elements.
You can also play a little with the shape of the cloud in the upper left corner, making it more interesting.
Take the tool Gradient (Gradient) (G) and select a linear gradient from black to transparent.
With it, draw a deep shadow that scatters to the top. Adjust the opacity if necessary. It will symbolize the city. Sketch lightning.
Add adjustment layer Color Lookup (Search color). Change the 3DLUT file to Fuji F125 Kodak 2393.
Then make the colors even more intense with a correction layer. Brightness/ Contrast (Brightness / Contrast, settings 54/34 respectively).
Take a soft round brush to create fluffy clouds. Thunder clouds are very tough, so we will need to draw on several layers.
Experiment with opacity for best results. High opacity is good for crisp details, and lower values will help in mixing close in tone colors.
If you put too much pressure on the tablet, it means that the opacity is too low. This can create discomfort – believe me, I know!
Continue to work on the picture. Examine the light as it passes through the clouds.
Make the city darker and add bright, clear lines – these are our lightning.
If it seems to you that the drawing is too dim, then make it brighter!
Use the adjustment layer Brightness/ Contrast (Brightness / Contrast, settings 25/39 respectively).
Create a new layer and change its blending mode to Linear Dodge(Add) (Linear clarifier (add)).
Use soft purple to draw lightning so they shine. Zoom in and add the specks of red, green and white below. This will create the image of a small town, and the image will be even more spectacular.
Do not forget to periodically look at the original!
Too intense colors? Change them with a correction layer.
Add adjustment layer Color Lookup (Color search) with 3DLUT 2Strip.look file. Lower Opacity (opacity) up to 47%.
As always, keep working on the drawing until you are happy with the result. For example, I decided to add small white dots to create a starry sky effect.
Small details can greatly affect your drawing, making it even more impressive – do not forget about them!
And so, my final drawing of storm clouds.
3. How to draw cirrus clouds
Go to the last picture!
Cirrus clouds are very mysterious. They are a mixture of soft, gentle forms and hard glare. I advise you to perform this part with the usual color scheme. The colors of the sunset are, of course, very beautiful, but they can complicate the lesson and confuse you.
However, if you feel a surge of courage, let’s get started.
Create a document with the same parameters as before and start working from the background. Go to Blending Options (Overlay Settings), select Gradient Overlay (Gradient overlay) and using the colors # 334b82 and # b5c1dc create a gradient.
That’s what happens.
Using a hard round brush with 100% opacity at the bottom of the picture in brown, paint the ground – this will be the basis of the composition.
Next, do not be distracted by drawing the earth, while it is better to concentrate on cirrus clouds.
Overlay the vibrant colors of the sunset (# ffa466, # ce6764) with the previously mentioned acrylic paint brush.
Let’s highlight the sky!
Create a new layer and change its blending mode to Overlay (Overlap). With the tool Gradient Tool (Gradient) (G) create a gradient from blue (# 335f8e) to transparent. Now the sky looks better!
Overlay gradient, before and after.
With a soft round brush, add silky textures – this will create a pleasant, harmonious look. Try not to linger for a long time on one part of the composition, periodically switching from one to another.
Add light yellows and blues. Increase the drawing by 200% and make sure that your shadows are “flowing”. Here it is important to return to the source.
Continue to soften and mix colors, even if you think that you can add more clouds.
Add a new adjustment layer Curves (Curves).
In the RGB channel, make the curve high to increase the contrast.
Do not miss the opportunity to apply the skills that we have gained by creating the two previous drawings.
Cirrus clouds are not hard. Here it is important to draw the turbulence of the clouds in different directions as if they are floating – this will make the drawing more characteristic and add movement.
Continue to work on the sky by painting bright orange flowers above the ground to show that the sun is setting / rising. Adjust the lighting on the ground to emphasize the composition.
Create a new layer, blending mode – Multiply (Multiplication) and draw the earth in green.
Reduce the brush size, but increase the opacity. Add a few details – draw small areas of grass.
Create a new layer, blending mode – Overlay (Overlap). Paint bright yellow and orange colors to create a beautiful effect of sunlight.
Drawing on the tablet requires a lot of time and patience. No matter how many hours it takes – keep working.
Finally, enlarge the drawing and put the details in order. Use a rigid round brush with 100% opacity to get rid of fuzzy areas. You can also experiment with adjustment layers to make the drawing even more spectacular.
Before and after using a stiff brush.
Here is the last drawing of the clouds. Below you can find them all.
Do not forget to add this lesson to your bookmarks – it will help you in future work!
Drawing nature is one of the best ways to develop. Carefully study the sources, and competently approach the workflow so you can achieve the best results.
Hope you enjoyed the tutorial!