Drawing clouds in charcoal

It’s quite hard to appreciate just how dark a blue sky can be. Before I attempt a pastel, I make a tonal study, working from the colour subject (in this case, I’m working directly from a photo I found on the internet). These are the first two stages: I begin by putting in the darkest areas, noting that the sky is darker at the top than near the horizon. Then I add the dark underbellies of the clouds.  If I need to lighten some areas, I use my putty eraser. I’m not trying to imitate the shapes exactly, but I’m attempting to understand the characteristics of these clouds.


The next stage is to add the highlights: the parts of the clouds that are reflecting the sunlight. This is done with chalk for the larger areas and white conte crayon for finer details. After that I add more detail to the tones inside the clouds, and draw the wisps above the main cloud with the conte crayon.

clouds 6

This is the final stage. I’ve added chalk to the rocks in the foreground, but this is merely a texture and is not meant to be as bright as the white of the clouds. I’ve put another cloud into the left of the picture as I felt it would improve the composition. I now feel ready to do a colour version in pastel.


One thought on “Drawing clouds in charcoal

  1. Pingback: Drawing clouds in charcoal | Mi Mi Designs

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