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How to Paint Smoke on Canvas

Creating an illusion is what every painter, master and student alike, wants to do. It is simple to create smoke on a canvas. This article tells you how to do it, because smoke is a simple matter of black and white.

Mix your paints. You need to mix six or seven shades of gray in lumps on a palette or jars to go along with standard white and standard black.

Please enjoy our virtual color mixer:

Put on the black. Keep in mind while you are painting that once a lighter color is on, you cannot cover it with a darker shade. Start with black and move toward white.

Paint in half-moon circles. When you are applying the paint with your brush, move the strokes in half-moon circles to create the billowing effect of smoke. This will make it more realistic, while maintaining your own artistic touch.

Make small smears. Using a smaller brush, make small smears in the half-moons to blend the colors together. It should look like a mixture of blacks, grays and whites. There should be no part of the smoke that is completely black, gray or white. They should all be blended together.

Let it dry. Your smoke is now on canvas.


Make minor adjustments as you go. It will save you time later.


  • Work up from darker colors.
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