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How to draw a sunset in pencil

Updated March 23, 2017

Sunsets are often beautiful and enjoyable to watch. For this reason, a sunset can make an ideal subject for a pencil sketch. Drawing a sunset can also be an ideal exercise for beginning artists, giving them the opportunity to refine their skills with horizon drawing and perspective, to create spectacular realistic sunsets on paper.

Draw a line horizontally across the width of your paper, as a general guide. The horizontal line can be anywhere, but slightly above the centre of the page is a good place to begin.

Compose your drawing by lightly sketching the elements you want to include in your sunset drawing. Since the focus of the drawing is the sunset, don't add a lot of details to detract from that focus. You might sketch trees or a sandy beach in the foreground. You might want to add a body of water or a mountain in the distance. Sketch these elements into the drawing before you begin working on the sunset.

Sketch the setting sun beyond your horizon line. Begin a line at the left end of your horizon and draw up toward the top of your paper, curving the line over to the opposite end of your horizon. This will roughly form a half circle, which represents the setting sun in your drawing.

Add some shading in the sky to show the tonal variations typical of a setting sun. If you're doing a lead pencil drawing, shade these lines with varying pressure to create areas of light and dark. If you're working with coloured pencil, use dark reds, yellows and purples to create the vivid colours found in a sunset.

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About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.