How to Paint a Sunset Scene with Adobe Photoshop

How to Paint a Sunset Scene with Adobe Photoshop
In this tutorial, I'll show you how to paint a sunset scene using standard brushes. We'll paint the sky first, after that using it as a lake surface and paint more details, lighting and shadow. Later, we'll paint the boat, row and make their reflection. Finally, we'll paint some birds in the sky.

Preview of the Final Result

Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new 3000x1300 px document in Photoshop and fill it with white. We'll paint the sky first, after that using it's reflection to make a lake surface. Hit Ctrl+Shift+N to make a new layer and activate the Gradient Tool (G). Choose Linear Gradient with the colors #647dbb and #a0c5dd. Drag a line from left to right to get a similar result like below:

Step 2

Make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #637dbb , the opacity about 20% to paint on the top left of the canvas to darken it a bit. 

Step 3

Create a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #a4cadf, the opacity about 20% to brighten the bottom of the middle a little. 

Step 4

Make a new layer, use a soft brush with the color #a2693c (picked from the original sky image) and paint along the bottom of the canvas. Click the second icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to add a mask to this layer and use a soft round brush with black color to reduce the brush's opacity on the left.

Step 5

Make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #fd9001 to paint on the middle of the bottom and use a layer mask  to erase the top of the effect.
On a new layer, use a soft brush with the color #c6ac9d to paint along the bottom of the canvas.

Step 6

Make a new layer and use a small brush with the color #d67751 to paint small parts of the clouds from the left to the right. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%.

Step 7

Create a new layer and use a medium-soft brush with the color #dab473 to paint several clouds following the guide of the reference image. Reduce the brush' opacity and hardness when painting the lighter parts and change this layer mode to Hard Light 100%
On a new layer and use the same brush to paint small details on the right bottom. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%.

Step 8

Make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #975f61 to paint on the long cloud on the left and around it. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%.
On a new layer, use a soft brush with the color #da9073 to paint on the clouds on the left. and the lower middle Alter this layer mode to Hard Light 100%.

Step 9

Make a new layer and use a soft brush with the color #90765d to paint more details on the sky. Change this layer mode to Overlay 100%.
Create a new layer and change the brush color #f6ef6d to paint some small highlight on the middle bottom as we aim to add the sun there.

Step 10

Create a Gradient Map adjustment layer on top of the layers and pick the colors #e10019 and #00601b. Lower the opacity of this layer to 20%.

Step 11

Add a Color Balance adjustment layer and alter the Midtones, Shadows and Highlights settings:

Step 12

Make a Curves  adjustment layer to increase the light and vibrance of the sky.

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One comment on “How to Paint a Sunset Scene with Adobe Photoshop”

  1. Hello,

    Het is erg veel werk maar ook zeer leerzaam.

    Hartelijk dank. With regards, Hans Keijzer.

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