Sketching Clouds in Charcoal: Adjusting the Forms

In this series we will be drawing clouds in charcoal, using a loose, sketchy approach.

You can use any reference of a cloud (or better yet, work from life!) or you can use the same one as me – it’s available at this link:

In the second session, we’ll be developing the larger, simpler cloud shapes established in the first part.

You can use pretty much any materials that you have to hand. I’m just using paper, willow charcoal, an old paintbrush and a kneadable eraser.


  • Begin by evening out some of the messier patches of tone (where they aren’t contributing to the sense of form).
  • I paid particular attention to the sky behind the clouds as making the sky more even helps to push the clouds into the foreground.
  • You can then begin to refine the edges of the large forms and plot the medium cloud forms within them.
  • Pay attention to what direction the tonal gradient is shifting (where it’s going from dark to light) and how gradually that is happening.
  • You can also use some more general passes over larger areas.
  • Particularly if you need to unify sections of dark or light.