How to Paint a Skyline

By Carl Hose
Paint a Skyline

Skylines make great subject matter for works of art. For beginning painters, working on a skyline challenges the imagination and sharpens technique. Advanced artists can turn a simple skyline into a breathtaking masterpiece. Just about every artist, including some of the early masters, has painted at least one skyline in his lifetime, and many modern-day artists make a good living painting skylines. Painting skylines is fun and challenging, and the end result can be breathtaking. Learn how to paint skylines that you'll be able to hang your hard work on your wall with pride.

Draw a horizon line lightly in pencil. This is the reference point of your skyline. Everything you do will be built around this pencil line.

Work from a reference photo and lightly sketch in the content of your skyline. If you're doing a skyline that includes a city, block in the general shape of the buildings. Don't worry about doing any of the building details. You just want to capture the outline shape against the sky. If the skyline you're doing is something simple that features less content, sketch it out. Think about perspective and adjust your skyline accordingly. Smaller for farther away, larger for closer items.

Decide what type of paint you want to work with. Oils take longer to dry and can be used to create some very nice textures. Acrylics blend easily without the use of solvents. Both types of paints are suited to painting skylines but result in different appearances.

Paint your skyline starting with the sky itself. You can try to capture the sky color in your reference photo, or you can completely change it to suit your mood. Maybe you've found a city skyline with a sunny backdrop and you want it stormy. The reference photo is only a guide. Add your own touch.

Paint in the details of the skyline by following your sketch. If you have a skyline with buildings rising above it, now is the time to refine and enhance the buildings to bring them out against the skyline. Make use of the sky's natural beauty. The positioning and coloring of clouds in the sky will have a strong effect on your skyline.

Pay attention to where the sky meets the horizon line and the way buildings or natural elements arise from the skyline. This is the focal point of your skyline painting. If everything starts in perspective there, you'll be able to maintain balance throughout the rest of the painting.

About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.