How to

How to Draw Perfect, Luminous Clouds with Graphite Pencils

By Carrie Lewis in Art Tutorials > Drawing Tips

Have you ever felt that a landscape painting lacks the wow factor because of a plain blue sky? Don’t worry, there’s a simple solution to elevate your artwork – add luminous, cotton-candy clouds!

Drawing clouds may seem challenging, but fear not! Today, I’ll show you an easy step-by-step process to create perfect, fluffy clouds using just graphite pencils. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a beginner, these techniques will work wonders for your artwork.

Step 1: Sketch a Basic Cloud Outline

Start by lightly sketching a simple outline of a cloud. Remember, this outline is just a guide for shading the sky, so it doesn’t need to be detailed or complete. The lines should be soft and not too dark.

Graphite Pencil Cloud Drawing Step 1

Step 2: Shade the Sky, Not the Cloud!

Using a 2B pencil with medium-light pressure, shade the sky following the lines you drew in the previous step. Don’t worry about being 100% accurate as clouds have soft edges due to their constant motion in the sky. Gradually decrease your pencil pressure as you move down the paper to create a lighter sky at the top.

Graphite Pencil Cloud Drawing Step 2

To add depth, layer a second round of shading with strokes perpendicular to the first layer. Cover every inch of the sky with graphite, leaving only the cloud area untouched.

Graphite Pencil Cloud Drawing Step 2 (Continued)

Step 3: Blend for Smoothness

Now, blend the layers of graphite to create a smooth, cohesive sky. A tortillon, a rolled paper stick used for blending, works wonders for this task. Use medium-heavy pressure and stroke in one direction, then go back in the opposite direction. Additionally, you can use a folded paper towel to further smoothen the shading.

Step 4: Add Shape to the Cloud

Tortillons tend to pick up graphite, allowing you to draw with them. Lightly rub shadows onto the paper using the “dirty” side of the tortillon to shape your clouds. Take your time and refer to a photo to ensure natural-looking cloud shapes.

Graphite Pencil Cloud Drawing Step 4

Focus on larger shapes initially, establishing values and contours that can be further developed. Use a 2B pencil to draw smaller, darker clouds at the bottom, which will serve as anchor points before working on brighter, larger clouds.

Graphite Pencil Cloud Drawing Step 4 (Detail)

For the upper part of the clouds, apply lighter pressure with a 2B pencil, followed by medium to medium-heavy pressure with the tortillon to blend the graphite and create lighter shadows.

Graphite Pencil Cloud Drawing Step 4 (Upper Clouds)

Step 5: Enhance the Contrast

To achieve dramatic contrast, darken some shadows and lighten other areas using a White Pearl eraser or a kneaded eraser. Remember to make the sky darker than it appears in reality to make the clouds appear brighter.

If you initially shaded the sky too lightly, you can darken the upper half using a 6B pencil. Cross-hatch graphite over the sky with medium pressure, blend with the tortillon, and repeat the process until the desired darkness is achieved.

Graphite Pencil Cloud Drawing Step 5

Lastly, use a white pearl eraser to create sharp and soft highlights on the cloud. Add a touch of loose graphite pigment to the sky area and blend with the tortillon to enhance the contrast and make the cloud appear even brighter.

Graphite Pencil Cloud Drawing Step 5 (Highlights)

Step 6: Finalize with Small Details

Take a step back and review your drawing as you near the finish line. Ensure that the values blend seamlessly from one area to another. If necessary, darken interior shadows and use a soft brush to blend the sky for a polished look.

Graphite Pencil Cloud Drawing Step 6

Remember, clouds are ever-changing and have soft edges. Pay attention to how they cast shadows and reflect light. Incorporating these subtleties will add realism to your artwork.

Happy drawing and best of luck!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

Alexia Young

Hello and welcome to the world of Alexia. I am a passionate and dedicated artist who loves to create beautiful, mesmerizing art for everyone's walls. I believe in the importance of encouraging people to express their creativity and be happy.

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