How to Draw Sky and Clouds with Pen and Ink

In this post I will describe how to draw Sky and clouds with pen and ink. Clouds comes in almost limitless variety of shapes, sizes and the feel they evoke. After learning the techniques to draw sky and clouds described here, you will be able to use them for drawing any specific type of clouds and sky appropriately and be able to evoke the right feel in your drawing.

Drawing Clouds in Outline:

One of the simplest technique is to draw clouds in outline and leave the sky implied. For simple drawings where clouds are not the main centre of attraction, this is often enough. Study how to draw outline of clouds below to give them proper open airy feel.

drawing clouds in outline

Simple clouds with implied sky can be added to a drawing using this technique as shown in examples below.

drawing clouds in outline

Draw clouds closer to horizon smaller and bigger as they go up. This brings out a nice feel of distance due to perspective. But this is not required and you can play with distribution of different sizes to see the feel they evoke.

Instead of leaving the sky implied, parallel lines or dots can be used to draw background sky as shown below. This is often referred to as drawing clouds as negative space. By using different density for background sky, different feel can be obtained.

drawing clouds

Here is another example.

drawing sky and clouds

If you are not good at drawing parallel lines, dots can be used to draw background sky as shown below. Again, by using different density of dots, different feel for background sky can be obtained.

drawing clouds with stipples

Above we used parallel lines and dots to draw background sky with clouds in outline. We will now learn how these strokes can be used to draw clouds as well.

Drawing Clouds with Stipples:

Stipples or dots is the most simple and effective way to draw clouds. Compared to a line, dots create a lighter feel and gives clouds the desired feel of lightness. If clouds and sky is not the main focus of attention in a drawing, then simply drawing few clouds using stipples as shown below is often sufficient. Any shape of clouds can be easily drawn with this technique.

drawing clouds and sky with stipples

It is generally more appealing to draw smaller clouds closer to far away horizon and bigger clouds above and closer to the viewer as it reinforces feeling of perspective and depth in the drawing. Following example illustrates this.

drawing sky and clouds with stipples

In the above examples, few clouds are drawn and the sky is left white/implied. This is enough to give a nice impression if sky/clouds are not the main focus in the drawing. Same stipple technique can be used to draw sky as well as we saw before and by drawing both background sky and clouds, more involved sky and cloud formations can be done. In the following examples, a background layer of stipples is used to lay down sky and then clouds are indicated by using more density of stipples appropriately.  By using darken tone for background sky, a more foreboding feel can be obtained. As the following examples illustrate, there is no limit to the type and feel of sky and cloud formation that can be achieved by using this technique.

Putting stipples down takes time. Don’t hurry and enjoy the process.

Drawing Clouds with Parallel Lines:

Using horizontal parallel lines is another technique to draw clouds. Compared to stipples, horizontal lines gives more tone and hence a darker feel for the clouds. Often drawing few clouds is enough to give a nice feel as shown below. Keep the edge of clouds wavy when laying down parallel lines.

drawing clouds with parallel lines

If you have fine control over drawing parallel lines, then same technique can be used to draw more involved sky and clouds. In the following examples, a layer of fine horizontal lines is laid to create a backdrop of sky and then additional horizontal lines are added to draw clouds. Stipples and lines can be mixed as well as is done in the first drawing.

Drawing a Morning or Evening Sky:

A nice and simple way to draw sky and clouds with a feel of sunrise is to draw clouds that leave a streak of white between them. Make sure to keep the edges wavy as shown below.

drawing clouds

Such clouds can be used effectively to indicate a ‘glow’ and very effectively indicate a sunrise or even a sunset where there is often a streak of glow behind the clouds. Notice that the streak of white extends from the bottom to the top in a wavy manner to give this feel.

drawing clouds

Drawing Layered Clouds:

Following are some examples of more involved drawing of clouds using different layers. Techniques for drawing them is discussed in detail in my workbooks.

Setting Mood With Clouds:

Density of cloud formation can be used to set the overall mood of the drawing with higher intensity of clouds drawing attraction to them and usually setting a heavier mood. In addition to over all use of more tone, tonal distribution should also be appropriately done with good mix of lighter and darken tones in the drawing of clouds. This is discussed further in my workbooks. Following is an example.

Drawing Night Sky:

Drawing of night sky is discussed in detail in vol 7 of my workbook series. Higher density along with specific tonal distribution can be used to draw might sky with the strokes discussed before. Consult my pen and ink drawing workbooks for full details on these. Following is a simple example.

This hopefully gave you some ideas on drawing Sky and clouds with pen and ink. Keep practising and have fun. Feel free to reach out to me for any help.

Happy Drawing,

Rahul

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