How to Paint a Picture of a Mountain Range

AKphotos, Andreqc, Adreams, Andyh1988, Sloopjohnb

Things You'll Need

  • Painting surface
  • Paints
  • Brushes

Mountain ranges have provided inspiration for painters for centuries. How do you capture their beauty in a painting? Learn tips and tricks to painting a mountain range here. These tips and tricks are useful for all mediums, whether you're using oil paints, acrylics, water colors or even pastels. Read on to learn how to paint a picture of a mountain range.

The first thing that an artist should do before painting a picture of the mountains is to lightly sketch an outline of what the final painting will look like on the canvas or paper. It's a great way to make sure that you've got the proportions that you want before any paint or coloring is added. The sketch should be done as lightly as possible so that it's hidden under the watercolors, chalk, or paint that's used to complete the painting.

Paint the background and let it dry before proceeding.

Now you're ready to paint the background. Whether you're painting a sunrise, sunset, cloudy or sunny day, paint the background and allow it to dry before proceeding.

Notice how light the mountains are that are in the distance.

Whenever painting mountains, the first mountains that should be added to the painting are those that are the furthest away. Our eyes sense distance by color depth, lightness and detail. The most distant mountains should be painted a very pale, light blue-gray. The further away the mountains are, the lighter their color should be.

Notice how many color variations are captured in this photo. The lightest colors are also the furthest away.

As the mountains become closer to your main subject, they should become darker in intensity. Instead of being flat, these color differences give our eyes the illusion of distance, enabling our mind to see that there is distance between the mountains themselves. Mountains that are far away don't have many details--instead, use several layers of colors to represent the many mountains in your picture.

The size of the horse impacts our perception of the distance to the mountains.

Use objects in the front of the picture to give our minds a reference regarding the size and distance of the mountains. The objects in the very front of the picture, those that are closest to the eye, should have the most intense colors, and the most detail. In this picture, the size of the horse gives us a reference to judge the likely size of the mountains. Because of the various colors that appear, we are able to guess at how close, or far away, the mountains are from the horse and the foreground.


  • Essentially you'll be painting the mountains in layers--going from those that are the furthest away to those that are the closest. Use the objects in the front of the painting to give distance and perspective to the mountains that are in the background.