Full Moon Light On Snow


An In-depth Painting Tutorial On Handling Light-Dark Contrasts

This watercolor lesson shows you how to paint a dramatic moonlit winter landscape scene. The key to any night scene is in balancing the dark and light areas. Learn how in this lesson.

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The Winter Solstice is nearly upon us! So, it’s the perfect time to try our hand at a dramatic winter night scene.  If you’ve ever had the good fortune to witness bright full-moon light on snow, you know the magic wonder of winter nights.

The most difficult thing about painting a winter night scene is balancing the bright light values of the snow, with the deep darks in the surrounding landscape. For the most part, night scenes are based on low-key value arrangements. But, with moonlight on snow, there is a good bit of very light value as well. Too much contrast and the painting can fall apart.

In this video, we’ll use a value thumbnail sketch to help with two things: define the major shapes that will form the structure of the composition; and decide what values will go where – using the dominance of dark values to highlight the lights of the moonlit snow fields.

Click the button at right (or below depending on the size of your screen) to see the process of creating the value sketch for this painting.

What you’ll need:


Related Lessons

Winter Night Value Sketch

Getting The Values You Want

Landscape and Seascape Paintings