Blue skys

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Donn Welton, May 20, 2003.

  1. Donn Welton

    Donn Welton Member

    I have read Galvin's excellent account of painting clouds on a backdrop but have two questions. Is the blue first painted on the backdrop a uniform blue or should it be darker at the top and lighter as it descends to the earth? If the latter, how does one achieve this without a spray gun using rollers?

    For those that might have missed Galvin's article here is the link:


  2. Ben H

    Ben H Member

    When I went to art classes a number of years ago (read +25) the darker blue went on the top and was gradually changed to the lighter blue on the bottom.

    I personally don't consider a Navy Blue as a color for sky so look for something that is lighter but which can be toned down as you paint down on the backdrop
  3. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member


    With oils you can create a nice sky by starting with aquamarine (a darkish blue) and blending in white toward the horizon. Or for a lighter sky you could start with cerulean blue (That's pretty much what you see when you look out the window on a clear day).

    The main goal is to get a nice realistic blue sky (under your lighting) that transitions from blue at the top to almost white at the horizon.

    I've read that this can be done with latex paint by blending blue and white and keep the section (about 3 feet wide) wet with water so that you have time to do the blending. Dave Frary mentions this in his Kalmbach book on Realistic Model Railroad Scenery, I think.

    With oils you can add the clouds while the sky is still wet.

    Here's an example of the technique using regular oil paints and the Bill Alexander (or Bob Ross) TV method:

    There's probably more detail here than you would want in most backdrops, but the principal is the same for the sky.

    Gavin does a beauiful job. I can't see that he blended the sky at first but his horizon (hills and mist and clouds) still give that realistic effect. I've been thinking about trying his method.

    Let us know how it turns out.
  4. Donn Welton

    Donn Welton Member

    Thanks, Jim, for your suggestions. I just finished painting the walls today and decided to do them a uniform blue. I am hoping that when I go to mist the mountains, as Gavin suggests, that this will help lighten the horizon and give good contrast with the sky above it. If that does not work, I will have to try some of the mix and paint ideas that you suggest. I hope it does as I have about 35 feet of wall that needs clouds, mountains and scenery! By the way, any suggestions on how to do a lake (see other post today) would be appreciated.
  5. Jim Cullen

    Jim Cullen Member


    When I did mine on the old layout, I used two rollers; one with sky blue latex paint and one with white latex. I started at the top of the backdrop with the blue and at the bottom with the white. the two were then blended towards the middle

    The idea is to get it to fade gradually from mostly all blue at the top to a much whiter blue at the bottom. If the top was too blue, hit it a little with the white roller; if the bottom was too white, hit it with the blue roller.

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