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Acrylic painting: tips for rocks & mountains

Updated March 23, 2017

Mountain ranges and rocks are key elements in many landscape paintings. Getting just the right colouring to give your rocks and mountains a realistic look is easy with acrylic paints. The richness of acrylic colours blend well, and the versatility of acrylic texture techniques lets you create depth and dimension in your rock and mountain scenes that can seem to bring your paintings to life.

Tools and Materials

You'll need paint thinner, a selection of brushes and a variety of acrylic paint colours including various shades of brown, black, white, various shades of green and grey. These are prime colours for rocks and mountains. Other materials to keep on hand include a selection of canvas, sketch pads and pencils. You'll want to add more to your toolbox later, but these are the basics to get started with mountains and rocks.

Sketching the Landscape

Sketch the composition of your landscape in pencil. Sketch lightly and include any details that might give your rocks and mountains additional character. This might include snow caps on the tips of the mountains, crevices and jagged edges, or even a little vegetation. Make your sketch as detailed as possible. This will allow you to concentrate on colour rather than composition when you get down to painting. Work from a photograph or from several photographs if it helps you capture all the nuances.

Choosing and Applying Paint Colors

Carefully select the colours for your rocks and mountains. You'll primarily want to use shades of grey, but black will help add depth. It will help to keep a palette handy for mixing paint colours, especially where the greys are concerned. The more shades you use, the better your representation of the rock or stone will be. You can apply the paint directly from the tube when you want it thick for texture, but mix the colours down with a paint thinner to vary the tones across your painting.

Add stone-like texture to your rocks by sprinkling a little light sand into black paint and dabbing it onto the grey. The effect is visually and texturally appealing. You can also use thinned black to create the crevices and indents found in rocks and mountains and dark green and brown paint lines to create clumps of grass. You can also apply paint to your canvas using the edge of a knife and dragging it at an angle to apply the paint in what resembles the even texture of rock.

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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.