Cloudy Backgrounds

by Dina Kowal

Learn two ways to fill in a cloudy sky - sponging and watercolor.


  • Mixed media or watercolor paper (Fabriano 90# Hot Press Studio Watercolor paper used here)
  • Stamped image that makes sense outdoors (The Cat’s Pajamas Kick Some Grass and Take Off stamp sets used here)
  • Light blue inkpad (Versamagic Sea Breeze used here)
  • Watercolor medium (QoR Watercolor tube paints used here)
  • Scalloped circle punch or die
  • Waterbrush, or paint brushes and water
  • Post-It Note for masking
  • Sponge
  • Other supplies as needed to complete the project (used here: shipping tag, sentiment stamps, decorative paper, Scor-Pal, trimmer)


  1. Step 1

    Stamp an outdoor image, or one that makes sense with a cloudy background. Create a mask and cover the image for the next step.

  2. Step 2

    For sponged clouds, punch or die cut a scalloped circle out of heavy cardstock.

    The punch used for the sample is about 3 inches wide, and there are about 3 scallops to the inch on the edge.

  3. Keep a typical cumulus cloud shape in mind, with fluffy, rounded bumps across the top and a basically flat bottom.

  4. Step 3

    Beginning at the top of the card and working across, sponge upward off the edge of the cloud template with a light blue ink, covering about an inch of the edge.

  5. Lift the template and rotate it upward slightly. Lay the template at the end of the first sponged area lining up the scallops, and sponge again, covering about an inch or less. One side of the first cloud-top bump is created.

  6. Step 4

    Rotate the template downward, and replace it at the end of the sponged line, lining up the scallops. Sponge again, completing the other side of the bump.

  7. Step 5

    Continue in this way across the panel until one row of cloud tops is complete. Each sponged section should be about an inch long.

  8. Step 6

    Move down the panel slightly and begin another row. Be sure to vary the pattern from one row to the next.

  9. Keep adding rows of clouds until you’ve achieved the look you want.

  10. Step 7

    Use the panel to complete a card or other project.

  11. Step 8

    To create watercolored clouds, you will be painting the sky between the clouds. Pick up light blue watercolor paint or another water soluble medium with a damp brush. Beginning at the edge of the stamped image, pull color to the side, creating a wedge shaped area of blue.

    If you have trouble envisioning the cloud shapes without an outline to guide you, lightly sketch in some clouds with a pencil before painting.

  12. Step 9

    Pull the color in a scalloped line from the bottom of the wedge, creating the top of the cloud below.

  13. Pull the color in a straight line from the top of the wedge to create the bottom of the cloud above.

  14. Step 10

    The cloud top (bottom of your painted area) should rise and then fall. Keep the edge of your painted area moving and wet to avoid hard edges in your watercoloring.

  15. Step 11

    Repeat on the other side of the image, keeping the clouds at about the same level for continuity.

  16. Step 12

    Extend the straight line to the side, and then work up the other way, creating the top of the cloud with a scalloped line.

  17. Work the painted area up and into a straight line above the cloud.

  18. Step 13

    Continue moving around the sky area in this way, until you have the cloud coverage you want.

  19. Step 14

    To add more depth to the sky, pull some light horizontal lines of blue across the sky, especially toward the bottom of the clouds.

  20. Step 15

    Use the panel to complete a card or other project.


Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Cloudy Backgrounds. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

Thanks Dina! I love the sponged clouds tutorial and can't wait to try it. Never thought of making the bumps in the clouds like you have shown. Your talents are endless!
Doodledop  |  Wed Apr 6, 2016 at 6:18 AM
Thanks Dina---I have always wondered about this technique....and as usual, you make it so simple to follow!
Susanne Gleason  |  Wed Apr 6, 2016 at 7:33 AM
Thanks so much for the great tutorial! Your cards are adorable! I am eager to sit down and practice some watercolor clouds!
angela bode  |  Wed Apr 6, 2016 at 7:40 AM
I have drawn cloud shapes similar to Dini's sketch of a cloud & cut them from the plastic at the bottom of a bacon package. But I don't see that used anymore, at least in the bacon I buy.

Those inexpensive clear Mylar dividers from the dollar store are good for making permanent templates, stencils & masks as they cut easily with scissors.

Having several different shapes can make the clouds very realistic, especially when you use them at different angles.
La Fonz  |  Wed Apr 6, 2016 at 7:56 AM
Becky Green  |  Wed Apr 6, 2016 at 8:00 AM
This was a wonderful video and I am going to try it. Thanks for sharing.

Linda D.
Linda Duensing  |  Wed Apr 6, 2016 at 9:00 AM
Oh, boy, oh, boy. I have been admiring clouds for so long and wondering how to get the soft feathery, billowy look. Your tutorial is SUPER! I am in heaven! Gonna play in the sky with clouds. Thank you, Dina.
Sonja Van Laar  |  Wed Apr 6, 2016 at 9:17 AM
Lovely tutorial and perfect with my new aeroplane stamp thank you
Annie Brackley  |  Wed Apr 6, 2016 at 12:40 PM
I have been using the die template/sponge cloud technique for awhile. I LOVE the realistic look of the watercolor! Thanks for the great tutorial, Dina.
Cynthia  |  Wed Apr 6, 2016 at 10:46 PM
I don't care WHAT you are teaching.....I LOVE your voice, you're tutorials are concise, quick, clear, without wasted time cutting/prepping/glueing things!! THANK YOU!!
Squirrellyshirley  |  Thu Apr 7, 2016 at 9:20 AM
Bless you, Shirley - that means so much to me!
dina  |  Thu Apr 7, 2016 at 11:06 AM
Clouds are my favorite things. I never could draw them without them looking like a 3 year old did it. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I now can make nice fluffy beautiful clouds.
Dani Neuenschwander  |  Sat Apr 9, 2016 at 7:56 AM
Excellent tutorial. Have been using the sponging technique for a long time but the watercoloring technique was much needed. Thank you!
Melanie  |  Wed Apr 13, 2016 at 5:46 PM
Love this technique! Thanks for sharing Dina!
Susanne Gleason  |  Wed Apr 27, 2016 at 9:28 PM
Love this technique!!
Debbie Kitchell  |  Wed Jun 8, 2016 at 5:52 PM
Great techniques and excellent instructions...thanks so much.
Mary Davidson  |  Mon Jun 13, 2016 at 6:57 PM

Page 1 of 1 pages

You need to be logged in to comment


Splitcoaststampers's privacy policy