How to Paint Lightning

Written by joy campbell
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How to Paint Lightning
When painting lightning notice subtle colours such as blues, reds and violets (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Adding lightning to a dark painting adds a catching focal point. It's the first place the viewer will look. Lightning has white and tones of blues, reds and violets. For a greater effect, have the lightning reflect off water or glass buildings or have it light up the clouds.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Image of lightning
  • Painting with a dark background
  • White, red, blue and violet paint
  • Brushes
  • Airbrush
  • White Pencil
  • Toothbrush

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Instructions

    Oil or Acrylic

  1. 1

    Place an image of lightning where it can be easily viewed. Sketch out the lightning using a white pencil. Create irregular lines and have smaller bolts connected to the main bolts.

  2. 2

    Apply white paint to the drawn bolts. Let dry.

  3. 3

    Highlight by applying a little red, violet or blue over the bolts.

  4. 4

    Apply a mixture of red, blue and an earthy brown around the palest parts of the lightning and at the horizon.

    Watercolour and Gouache

  1. 1

    Place an image of lightning where it can be easily viewed. Sketch out the lightning using a white pencil. Create irregular lines and have smaller bolts connected to the main bolts.

  2. 2

    Create a bursting effect by splattering paint at the top of the lightning. Create the splatters by flicking the paint brush with white gouache.

  3. 3

    Create smaller splatters of paint at top by flicking paint off of a toothbrush. Let dry.

  4. 4

    Highlight by applying a little red, violet or blue over the bolts.

    Airbrush

  1. 1

    Place an image of lightning where it can be easily viewed.

  2. 2

    Spray on white bright using about 20.4 Kilogram of air pressure. Create irregular lines and have smaller bolts connected to the main bolts.

  3. 3

    Apply a blue, violet or purple colour and spray over the centre of the white.

  4. 4

    Repeat the process but with a tighter line by holding the air gun closer to the painting.

Tips and warnings

  • Create a scene that will include reflections in water along with emphasising glows in the clouds and horizon.

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