The Colour Of Sky In Art And Illustration

The Colour Of Sky In Art And Illustration

In Western cultures at least, little kids first learn to draw with a blue or (black for night-time) sky, and a yellow orb for the sun. In reality, sky can be many different colours.

Easy Answers to Hard Questions pictures by Susan Perl text by Susanne Kirtland (1968) “Why is the sky blue?” (It’s not!)

And the sun is actually white, but that’s a different blog post.

Watch As Clouds Convince You You’re Underwater from io9

The illusion that lets you see ghosts of clouds, from io9

Why does the sky look green before a tornado? from Mental Floss

Changing the colour of the sky is a great way to significantly alter the mood of an illustration. A blue sky is cheerful, a stormy sky foreboding, an orange sky indicates evening, or early morning, and a purple sky might convey a fantastical or magic world.

OMBRE SKIES

Paris, view of the Seine, Night Mathias Alten, 1899
Paris, view of the Seine, Night Mathias Alten, 1899
Alfred Trueman Motor Boating magazine
Alfred Trueman Motor Boating magazine
1929 Swedish poster for a film version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES Richard Oswald, Germany, 1929, uncredited illustrator
1929 Swedish poster for a film version of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES Richard Oswald, Germany, 1929, uncredited illustrator
Kinuko Craft – Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave yellow sky

What if you change the colour of the sky after the rest of the artwork has been done? I read a hint lately in a digital art manual which suggested filling a top layer with the colour of your sky, then setting it to multiply blend mode. This will tint the landscape/cityscape or whatever to the appropriate hue, since the colour of the landscape is influenced by the colour of the sky above. I haven’t had a chance to put this to use, but I did try it out anyway on an illustration I’d already done, and I do believe it would be a good way to get the sky matching the landscape, if you end up with a hue which draws attention to itself, or in which the sky looks somehow separate from the land.

GREEN SKY

‘Figure in the Moonlight.’ John Atkinson Grimshaw
Evarist de Buck Winter Landscape green sky
Walt Peregoy (1925 – 2015) 1957 preliminary background illustration for Disney’s Paul Bunyan
Longeuil, Normandy 1909 oil on canvas by Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)
Willard Metcal (1858 – 1925) Old Homestead Connecticut, 1914 green sky
Mother Goose by Gyo Fujikawa, 1968
Trick or Treaters by John Falter, 1963
Alan Lee (born 1947) 1980s illustration for Castles by Alan Lee and David Day
James Avati (1912 – 2005) 1974 illustration for the paperback cover of ‘Return to Paradise’ by James A. Michener
Ernst Kreidolf’s ‘Das Hundefest’ (The Dog Festival) 1928
Eyvind Earl for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty
Maxfield Parrish Lull Brook Winter, 1945

RED SKY

Utagawa Hiroshige, From One Hundred Famous Views of Edo 27 Plum Garden, Kamata (1857)
Stewart Rouse 1931
Felix Vollotton, coucher de soleil a Villerville 1917
Cover of Pan magazine by Joseph Sattler (1895)
Stanley Pitt
Denise York 1964
Ford Smith
1949, cover by Robert Gwathmey
Mel Crawford (1925 – 2015) 1954 book cover illustration for ‘Dale Evans & The Lost Gold Mine’ by Monica Hill
ひかりがうまれたとき 2002

PINK SKY

Mikhail Bychkov - Tales of Scandinavian Writers
Mikhail Bychkov – Tales of Scandinavian Writers
Walt Peregoy (1925 – 2015) 1961 background illustration for Disney’s One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Dean Ellis (1920 – 2009) 1979 book cover illustration for Bandersnatch by Kevin O’Donnell Jr
Serhii Vasylkivsky, a Ukrainian artist known as ‘Painter of the Sky’.
Mikhail Bychkov - Tales of Scandinavian Writers
Mikhail Bychkov – Tales of Scandinavian Writers

Header painting: John Muirhead – The Calm before a Storm 1881

Those who tell the stories rule the world.

Native American Proverb