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How to Draw a Reflection of the Moon in Water

Drawing the moon on water requires soft, smooth pencil lines.
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Drawings of moonlight on water evoke a feeling of romance and natural beauty. Because these images incorporate simple shapes and a limited color palette, they make easy but gratifying studies for any artist. Although numerous ways exist to capture moonlight on water, there are a few basic steps to keep in mind. Design components, like balance and symmetry, help keep your drawing pleasing to the eye. Smooth and fluid pencil strokes help to capture the liquid quality of the moon's reflection.

Mark the horizontal center of your page by making a small point at the top of the page. Draw a light, vertical line down from this point, using your ruler as a straight edge.

Divide your paper into thirds by making small, light marks along the center line.

Using your ruler, draw a horizontal line across the entire page at the mark closest to the bottom of the paper. This will be your body of water.

Use a compass or trace a circular object, such as the base of a glass, to make a small circle. Use the top pencil mark on your page as the center point of this circle. This is your moon shape.

Lay your pencil tip on its side and shade the top two-thirds of the page darkly to create a night sky. Do not draw from your wrist or keep your strokes tight. Doing so causes your lines to curve and create a distracting, rippling pattern in your sky. Instead, keep your pencil strokes soft, smooth and horizontal. Do not shade inside of your moon.

Make the area near the top of the page the darkest. Your shading should gradually lighten a little as you progress downward towards the horizon line.

Using your ruler, lightly draw two diagonal lines pointing towards the center line in the water portion of your image. They should form a shape that looks like a triangle with the top cut off.

Lay your pencil point flat on its side and begin shading your water. Keep the area inside of the partial triangle slightly lighter, since this area represents the region reflecting the light of the moon. Use undulating, waving lines to shade your water.

Shade your water region to make it darker than the sky, with the exception of the lighter moon reflection.

Add a small amount of light shading to the bottom of your moon. Use a round, arching stroke to shade this region.


  • Do not draw hard lines around your moon or on your horizon since such additions look unnatural.
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