How to paint a rainy night-time scene

Artist Don Seegmiller explains how make your paintings appear dark and moody...

Such a scene is all about the ripples and reflections. I paint the image in Corel Painter, working on individual layers. I create a stormy sky using the Airbrush tool on a background layer.

When painting the sky I make the clouds that are closer to the horizon thinner, ensuring they have the correct perspective. I overlay the clouds with a gradient layer to make the colour consistent with a dark and stormy night.

How to paint a rainy, night-time scene?

This is my initial painting of the town that will soon be rain-soaked. To save time I start with a dark, bluish coloured image

Next, I create the reflections of the buildings by duplicating the building layer, flipping it vertically, and moving it behind the buildings layer.

I apply some blur and lower the Opacity because reflections aren't as clear or strong as the object that's being reflected. I then apply a slight glass distortion effect to the reflection

How to paint a rainy, night-time scene

This final painting shows how the four layers – reflections, clouds, ripples and rain – are combined to create a dark and stormy night

I want some raindrop ripples in the reflection to show that it's raining. On a layer above the reflections I paint different-sized circles using a custom brush made from an outlined circle. I transform this layer so the circles are ellipses.

I lock the Layer's Transparency and paint the ripples a rainy colour, then blur and lower their Opacity. On a top layer I paint raindrops using the Small Splattery Airbrush. I change the layer's composite method to Screen and lower its Opacity, before duplicating the layer several times. I add varying amounts of motion blur to the layers, which gives direction to the falling rain.

Words: Don Seegmiller

Artist, author and instructor, Don Seegmiller teaches in the Art and Visual Communication Department at Utah Valley University. This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 102.