How to paint a dramatic landscape in watercolor

Watercolor dramatic landscape for beginners easy

Watercolor painting can be a truly exciting process, especially when you’re not sure of the outcome. That is exactly how I felt when painting this dramatic landscape.

So in this tutorial I will take you step by step on how to paint the landscape scene you see above so that you can learn and practice with me. You’ll be practicing a range of techniques including wet in wet, wet on dry, and dry brush techniques.

Let’s jump into it…

Materials

  • Watercolor 140lb/300gsm paper- cold pressed
  • Watercolor brushes- (Brush size depends on size of paper and manufacturer of brushes), I am using a size 12 and 2 (one medium and one small brush)
  • Watercolors (colors listed below)
  • 2 jars of water
  • Paper towel
  • Hb pencil
  • masking tape
  • Board to tape down your paper (optional)

Colors used

The colors I used in painting this landscape are listed below, however feel free to use what you prefer or have available.

  • Sky
    • Dark gray: Alizarin crimson+ prussian blue+ touch of burnt sienna
    • Yellow orange
  • Mountain:
    • Yellow ochre
    • Dark gray: Same as above (AC+ PB +BS), I added more water to make it lighter in value
    • Light gray: Cerulean blue + burnt sienna
  • Field:
    • Dark green: Prussian blue + Gamboge + Burnt sienna (you can also use paynes gray instead of BS to make it even darker, I used both)
    • Yellow ochre
    • Medium light green: Prussian blue + Gamboge
  • Tree:
    • Medium light green: Prussian blue + Gamboge
    • Dark green: Prussian blue + Gamboge + Burnt sienna

Step by step dramatic landscape

Basic sketch

To draw the sketch you just have to outline the mountain, field and tree as you can see in the image below:

Dramatic watercolor- Basic sketch

Don’t make the sketch too dark, this is what it looked like on my paper:

Painting the sky

To paint the sky, start by wetting the paper, avoiding the area where the tree foliage is. Make sure you have applied enough water, the paper should look glossy.

Begin painting in strokes of dark gray along the top of the paper, use the point of the brush to paint in irregular lines and dots. Leave some areas white.

Make sure to leave the area of the sky near the mountain light so that you can add in yellow orange.

Step 1 dramatic watercolor landscape

Paint in yellow orange along the bottom of the sky closest to the mountain. Use the tip of your brush to load small areas of pigment, allow the gray and yellow orange to bleed together.

Dramatic sky for watercolor landscape tutorial

After you’ve added the yellow orange it’s time to let the sky dry, don’t touch it during this time let the pigment do it’s thing.

Mountain in the distance

Once the sky has dried, start by painting the mountain area with clear water. Continue painting in yellow ochre along the horizon line, leave the top of the mountain light for now.

The reason why I painted a yellow undertone to the mountain is to make it blend in with the fields, creating depth.

Next paint in a light gray mixture (Cerulean blue + Burnt sienna), you can add in dabs of dark gray here and there.

Watercolor mountain tutorial

Let it dry…

Background of the field

To begin the field Pre-wet the field area with clean water, avoiding the tree trunk. Paint in uneven brushstrokes across the field, leave some areas white.

You can add in a variation of colors to make the field more of a dramatic landscape, in the image below I added in yellow ochre and mixture of prussian blue + gamboge.

Creating texture for watercolor landscape painting

Painting the tree

If you’re interested in practicing techniques on how to paint trees with watercolor check out this post here.

To paint the tree clean of your brush and dampen it on a paper towel then drag in green with the side of your brush (Prussian blue + gamboge, more gamboge to make it lighter).

Using the same technique, start painting in darker spots of green (prussian blue + gamboge + paynes gray). Remember to reserve the white areas.

Final step- finishing touches

We are almost done!

Once the field has dried, it’s time to paint in a few lines and dabs of green in irregular paterns as shown below:

Watercolor dramatic landscape step 6

Take your mixture of green (gamboge + prussian blue) and reduce the value by adding water. Next take your brush and carefully paint over the bottom of the mountain. This technique is called glazing.

Image on watercolor tutorial process

Before the paint dries, make sure to clean off your brush then blend the paint into the mountain. I added the yellow green to create depth within the painting and to blend it with the field.

Detailed diagram on watercolor landscape process.

Finally pick up your smaller brush and begin adding in a few patches of grass, don’t bother with filling up every spot. The idea is to hint the idea of grass being there. You can see below I used short thick lines and changed colors here and there.

The last step is to paint the tree trunk, here I used burnt umber with a touch of paynes gray. While the paint is still wet dab in a touch of dark green mixture (prussian blue + gamboge +paynes gray) at the bottom of the tree trunk. Continue by painting in thin lines in the white spaces you left earlier in between the foliage. Finally continue painting in smaller dark lines of grass as shown in the image below.

That’s it for this post, now it’s time for you to grab your paints and try it out! If you enjoyed this dramatic landscape tutorial, make sure to sign up for my email list. That way you can recieve updates for when I release new tutorials on watercolors.

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