In this post, you’ll learn three watercolor mountain tutorials using a variety of watercolor techniques. This is the perfect beginner exercise to practice and improve your painting skills!
Watercolor mountains can be challenging, however, once you get the basic idea they can be a lot of fun to paint. Although you can create many types of mountains, I decided to include three step-by-step tutorials to help you!
Let’s get started…
Mountains in the distance
There are two important factors when it comes to painting mountains in the distance:
1. The farther away the mountains are the lighter they should be. In the exercise below, you can see how I’ve painted the mountain farthest away the same color as the sky.
2. The closer the mountains are in perspective, the more detailed they tend to be.
1. Light Gray: Cobalt blue + Burnt Sienna + Rose madder (small touch)
2. Dark Gray: Paynes gray + Prussian blue
3. Mountains: Prussian blue + Cadmium yellow
4. Dark Green: Prussian blue + Cadmium Yellow + Paynes Gray (small touch)
5. Closer mountains: Yellow Ochre
Step by step tutorial
Start by wetting the sky area with clean water and then paint in uneven strokes of dark gray. Paint the sky darker at the top and lighter towards the horizon.
Let the sky dry, then paint the first layer of the farthest mountain. I used the same gray mixture as the sky, however, more saturated.
Now it’s time to paint the next mountains, here I’m using blue-green by adding a touch of Cadmium Yellow to Prussian blue. Always make sure the previous layers are dry before adding the next layer.
As you paint the closer mountains, adjust the mixture by gradually adding small amounts of yellow.
Paint the closer mountains with a little more texture. Do this by painting a few lines with white spaces between.
Add more yellow to the mixture and paint in the white areas:
For the second closest mountain I started with some yellow ochre (you can mute it or use a different color). However, I didn’t mix it with another color to keep the tutorial simple.
Start by painting some strokes across the mountain and leave some white areas.
With a light green mixture, paint into the yellow ochre using the wet-on-wet technique. Next, adjust your mixture by adding more blue and painting a few lines across the hill as shown in the image below.
After the first mountain dries, finish off with the final one by painting in yellow ochre, this time I covered the whole area.
Add some medium green to the wet paint without covering up the yellow ochre underneath.
Finally, after the paper has dried, you can go in with a smaller brush and add some details and texture using the dry brush technique.
Snow Capped Mountain
1. Preserve the white of the paper.
2. Always start with the lighter values and work towards adding the darker colors.
3. Try to make the direction of the brushstrokes match the flow of the mountain.
1. Light Gray: Cobalt blue + Burnt Sienna + Rose madder (a touch)
2. Dark Gray: Alizarin Crimson + Prussian blue + a touch of lemon yellow
3. Blue: Cobalt blue + small touch of Rose madder
How to paint snowy mountains
You’ll have to work quickly on the sky so make sure to mix your colors beforehand.
To paint the clouds, wet the sky with clean water and start painting in strokes of light gray. Leave some areas white (to add blue later).
While the paint is still wet, drop in a slightly thicker consistency, (not too thick), of dark gray into the middle of the light gray clouds. Don’t completely cover the areas underneath.
Clean your brush and paint in some cobalt blue mixed with a touch of rose madder into those white areas. Let it dry…
Once the sky has dried, start painting in the shadow areas with a light gray.
Drop some dark gray spots into the light gray while the paper is still wet. Notice how the edges are softer and lighter in value? You can do this by dampening the brush and lifting some of the pigment.
With the dry brush technique, pick up some light gray and paint a few textured brush strokes across the mountain. Try to paint the brushstrokes in the direction of the mountain, then let it dry.
Once the underlayer is dried, paint over the textured strokes with light gray. Don’t cover the whole area, or it’ll look flat. (leave some white spots)
You can see in the picture below how I painted the lighter half of the mountain, with a few short and thick strokes of light gray.
You can use a paper towel to lift some of the paint to include lighter areas. If the paint has dried, simply rewet the area you want to lift off, then dab it with a paper towel.
Add a few darker lines on the lighter side of the mountain.
Let the paper dry again, then add more dry brush strokes on top like so:
Finish off by darkening some of the shadow areas with a dark gray mixture. You can also use the dry brush technique for more texture.
Foggy/Misty Watercolor Mountain Tutorial
1. In and out. When there’s fog, it’s important to note that the fog doesn’t cover the whole mountain, some areas pop in and out.
2. The second tip would be to let the water do the work for you. Instead of focusing on the details, paint the suggested shapes and values.
1. Blue Green: Prussian blue + touch of Gamboge
2. Dark Green: Prussian blue + Gamboge + Paynes Gray
3. Gray: Cobalt blue + Burnt Sienna + Rose Madder
How to paint Foggy Mountains
Begin by wetting the sky area with clean water. Next, continue with a simple cloudy watercolor sky, by mixing cobalt blue + Burnt Sienna + a touch of rose madder. Paint in uneven strokes, with more gray at the top and less towards the horizon then let it dry.
After the sky has dried, mix some Prussian blue with a touch of Gamboge to get a lovely blue-green color. Start by painting the peak of the mountain, as you work your way down, dilute the mixture by adding a little more water and using less paint. (Darker at the peak, lighter towards the bottom)
Finally, dab your brush on a paper towel to remove the excess water and lift some of the pigment from the bottom of the mountain.
Repeat the same process for the other mountains while maintaining a lighter area between each to show the fog. In this step, you must ensure the previous mountains are dry before continuing.
Wet the bottom of the paper, where the trees will be. This time add a little more yellow to the green mixture. Paint in the foliage along the bottom of the mountains, while making sure to leave some spots lighter.
With a paper towel, lift off some of the green pigment.
Try to use your intuition, you can see how I added more green in the image below because I felt it was too white.
While the paper is still damp, switch to a smaller brush then paint in a few tree trunks by adding some Paynes gray to the green mixture.
I also painted a few horizontal strokes along the bottom to show the ground.
Loose Mountain Landscape
If you enjoyed this post and you want to practice painting mountains then be sure to try this loose watercolor mountain landscape tutorial! (Image below)
I hope you enjoyed these watercolor mountain tutorials… I would also love to hear which one was your favorite in the comments. Personally, I enjoyed the foggy mountains! Also, be sure to sign up for my email list for more watercolor learning recourses down below!!