Learn the easy way to paint a sunset cityscape in this step-by-step tutorial.
I’ve wanted to create a sunset painting tutorial for a few months now, but I’ve been struggling with the composition (I.e. what is going to be in the background of the sunset, the theme/feel, the focal points, etc).
However, with everything going on in the world right now I decided along with the sunset, to add a silhouette of a cityscape.
We might be physically separated in different cities, houses, and buildings BUT we are together under the same sun, moon, and stars.
I ultimately wanted this painting to serve as a reminder to stay vigilant in this challenging time in our history.
Sunset Cityscape Painting – Paint Colors & Materials
Given the current state of society, I want to do my best and provide new painting/craft tutorials that use simple materials – which you would most likely have. So that you don’t have to venture out to stores to buy anything.
This painting uses primary and other basic colors that many people might have at home already:
Also, this painting can be done on ANY size canvas or canvas board- doesn’t have to be square like mine.
If you don’t have a canvas, you can paint it on other things like:
- cardboard (cereal, pizza, delivery box, etc..)
- white printer paper
- scrap paper
- watercolor paper
- wood scraps (plywood)
The type of brush that works well for this painting -both for blending the sunset and for blocking in the color to your cityscape- is a small/medium size flat brush, like these.
If you don’t have a flat brush, not to worry: any brush will do, just make do with what you have and have fun with it!
Beginner Paint Techniques You Will Learn
I love making my painting tutorials as fun as can be, but I also like to teach some easy/interesting painting techniques at the same time. Learning these techniques will help you grow as an artist (YES, you ARE an artist!), and will help with your future paintings.
I like to break things down into a simple step-by-step format because I have gotten feedback that many people find it easier to learn this way.
And as always, I include lots of pictures, for those who learn more visually (like me!).
In this painting, you are going to be learning a technique called
double loading and
Essentially what this means is, you will NOT clean off your brush before picking up the next color. You will have 2 or 3 colors on your brush at the same time, which is going to help you blend the colors in your sunset.
Trust me, its super fun! Don’t be intimidated by the technical terms.
I can’t wait to show you- I’m so excited 🙂
Let’s do this!
- Paints (Black, Blue, Pink/Magenta, Red, Yellow & White)
- Medium/Small Flat paintbrush (or any)
- A container of clean water
- Pallete paper (or paper plate)
- Pencil and Ruler
- Masking Tape
- On your palette, mix your blue with the tiniest amount of black, to form a darkish blue.
- Load your brush up with the darkish blue and paint and paint the top portion of your canvas, using long LEFT to RIGHT, RIGHT to LEFT strokes. If you want you can add a tiny amount of black to the top edge to make it look like the sky is the darkest at the top
- Without cleaning off your brush, add in some white onto our brush. This is called `double loading`. Essentially you will have the blue and white both on your brush and this will make it easier to blend/transition into a light blue color of your sky.
- Take the `double-loaded` brush and using the same LEFT to RIGHT and RIGHT to LEFT long brush strokes, blend this lighter color from where you left off with the blue.
- Without cleaning your brush off, load on some of your pink/magenta paint. This is called `triple loading` since you have blue, white and pink on your brush at the same time.
- Take your `triple loaded` brush and using the same LEFT to RIGHT and RIGHT to LEFT long brush strokes, blend the pink into where you left off with the light blue. You will also notice that your pink might look more purple since there was some blue on the brush, this is the color we want! If you want you can add some pure pink onto your brush after you've blended, and add more pink back into the sky if you like that better.
- Now clean off your brush in some water. We don't want to mix too many colors on the brush, as it might start giving "muddy"/brownish colors-which we don't want. Once your brush is clean, add some pure red onto your brush and blend the red into the bottom of the pink on your canvas. If you want a good blend, add a little bit of the pink ono your brush first then add red, to ` double load` and then blend down. Either will work, since pink and red are already pretty close in tonality.
- Without cleaning off your brush, load some Yellow onto your brush for more `double loading`.Using the same LEFT to RIGHT and RIGHT to LEFT long brush strokes, blend the Yellow/Red into where you left off with the red. This color will look orange then yellow since yellow and red make orange. Every time you add more yellow to your brush, the color will become less orange and more yellow, like in the picture.
- Without cleaning off your brush add some pure white onto your brush to `triple load` it. Using the same LEFT to RIGHT and RIGHT to LEFT long brush strokes, blend the White/Yellow into where you left off with the Yellow. This will end up looking like the brightest sunlit area, painted where the sun is closest to - the horizon.
- Optional: once you're done the sunset, feel free to take your brush with white paint mixed with a tiny amount of pink to paint some very subtle, light pink, clouds. Make sure you have very little paint on the brush (close to dry brushing), so your clouds are very subtle and don't cover up your beautiful sunset.
- Wait for your sunset to completely dry (a few minutes). You can take a heat gun or hairdryer to it if you want it to dry faster.
- Once dry, take your pencil and ruler and start to design and draw your Cityscape. You can Google images of your own city's skyline and use that as an inspiration, from your own imagination or feel free to use the one I made.
- Once you're happy with the cityscape, use your small/medium flat brush to fill out the shadows with pure black paint. Use the flat edge of your brush and paint in a LEFT to RIGHT (or RIGHT to LEFT, depending on the edge) stroke to get clean and crisp edges. This was my favorite part of the painting because I really got into it and it forced me to focus, and I totally lost track of time in the process!
- What twilight sky would be complete without some magical stars? Since the top part of our painting fades into the night sky, we want our stars to lie there. To protect the rest of the sky from splashes of paint, use masking tape and a sheet of paper to cover it. Take a container, and add a small amount of white paint mixed with some water. It should be opaque but liquidy- like in the picture. Load up a brush with this watery white paint and tap your brush on your opposite wrist to get perfect splashes of stars. Finish up with a crescent moon and your painting is complete! If you want a really cool tutorial on how to create splatter stars check out Art Sherpa-love her video tutorial-brilliant!
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T-SIGN 66 Inches Reinforced Artist Easel Stand, Extra Thick Aluminum Metal Tripod Display Easel 21 to 66 Inches Adjustable Height with Portable Bag for Floor/Table-Top Drawing and Displaying
Art Altrn Studio Stretched Canvas 14X14
Strathmore 365-9 300 Series Palette Pad, 9"x12" Tape Bound, 40 Sheets
One Stroke Brush Set, 1059 (10-Pack)
Liquitex BASICS 48 Tube Acrylic Paint Set, 22ml
Creative Hobbies to Keep Busy With
Like many people, I have been keeping busy and emotionally healthy by immersing myself in creative projects at home.
It’s a good time to start crafts you never had time to do before, or even learn a new hobby or two.
That said there are some projects that I want to do now but don’t have the materials for. I’ve decided that for those projects, I will wait for when we can safely roam the aisles of our favorite stores again.
To help keep track of those projects I have started a special list. This list helps organize my creative projects and also keeps my inspiration alive.
Here’s a fun printable you can use to track all the creative projects you want to do now and later (so you don’t forget!).
Do what you can,
with what you have,
where you are.Theodore Roosevelt (26th president of the United States)
I hope you truly enjoyed this sunset cityscape painting tutorial and find some joy in creative hobbies during this time.
Until our next tutorial, stay safe, healthy and creative!