How to draw a sunset painting – Easy step by step Krita tutorial

Krita sunset tutorial - completed image
A nice sunset on a beach – The resulting painting of this tutorial

Greetings everyone. This is the second post in the step-by-step tutorial series and today you and I are going to draw a sea-side sunset painting in Krita. If you need a quick tour of the interface of Krita then you can watch my earlier videos about it.

Step 1

We start with a new document in Krita. Open Krita and click on the New File button, the shortcut is Ctrl + N. In the new file dialog let us keep the canvas in landscape mode. From the predefined preset drop-down choose “Film 16:9 4k” document preset. The dimensions will be 3840px X 2160 px. Click on the Create button.

New file dialog in Krita
New file dialog in Krita

First let us save the document, press Ctrl + S and add a nice name for the document and save it somewhere on your computer.

Step 2

I have prepared a colour palette for us, you can use this as a guide but feel free to choose your colours as you like. This is just for guiding us we may also tweak the colours as we paint. To use my palette we can use the reference image tool of Krita. Simply copy the palette image below and go to the Edit menu and click on Paste as Reference image [Ctrl + Shift +R] .

Colour palette for Krita tutorial
Copy paste this palette image as a reference image in Krita

The colour patch image will be pasted as a reference image. While it is selected just move it to the side of the canvas. We will be picking our colours from this image. You can also add in some other reference images of sunset if you like.

Step 3

Now we will create a gradient for our base colour. Now Choose the Gradient Tool gradient-tool-icon-krita [G]. Click on the gradient Fill gradients button in the toolbar (1). Click on the Add button (2). A dialog box will open for adding a custom stop based gradient. We are going to add 5 stops, two at the edge and three in the middle (3).

In the first stop let us add the light yellow colour. You can click on the colour box (4) to open the colour chooser dialog and pick a colour from the reference image by using the eyedropper button in the colour dialog.

Reduce the opacity of this stop to 50%. Then choose the second stop and change its colour to light orange, opacity can be 100%, change it’s position to 10%. Similarly, for the third stop we pick an orange colour at 100% opacity and position to 25%. Again choose the fourth stop and choose orange colour at 100% opacity and position at 75%. Choose the final stop at the end and choose the purple colour, the third patch in the second row from the top.

Add a name to the gradient, here I have written “Seaside-01” (5), and then press the “Ok” button (6).

Steps for adding a stop gradient preset in Krita

Now go to the Tool option docker and choose Bi-Linear from the Shape drop-down. Now we will draw a gradient on the canvas to create a horizon line and our base colour. Click and hold slightly below the middle of the canvas and then press Shift to constrain the gradient line to a straight line and then drag it down. Now we have a rough horizon line.

Adding a grdient in Krita sunset turorial
Gradient is drawn on the canvas

Step 4

Now we will draw some clouds. Activate the Brush tool [B] then from the brush preset docker choose “f) Bristles-4 Glaze” brush. You can also search for this brush using the search bar at the bottom of this docker. From the top bar, we will change the brush size to 180px. And also enable the vertical mirror tool by clicking on the second mirror triangle icon vertical mirror icon in Krita beside the size slider.

This will add a horizontal line on the canvas, there will be a grab handle on it, drag the line by holding it and position it roughly above our horizon. This tool will help us in getting some reflections that we see on a wet beach. Make sure to move the grab handle out of the canvas to not move this line accidentally while painting. Or you can also lock it by checking the option “Lock Y Line” which you can access by clicking on a small arrow near its icon in the toolbar.

Now click on the plus icon in the layer docker or simply press the [Insert] key to add a new layer. On this new layer, we will draw some clouds.

Pick the dark purplish colour from the second last row of the palette and start drawing the clouds. Draw with slight pressure. Add big horizontal patches of clouds at the top portion and as you go towards the horizon line draw sleeker thinner clouds. Press [E] key to turn your brush into an eraser and erase unwanted parts if required.

Video showing how to draw the clouds

After adding the base colour for the clouds, pick the darker purple from the last row in our palette and paint it on the upper side of the cloud. Since the light is coming from below, the top part will be slightly darker. Then pick the dark red from the last row and paint with slight pressure in the bottom of the clouds to show the effect of the setting sun’s light from below. Also pick the light yellow colour and add in highlights from below. Add some to the top as well for the clouds nearer to the horizon line since the light can come from behind too.

Clouds drawn in Krita
Clouds with highlight and shadow

Step 5

Once we have painted all the colours on the clouds, we will merge the paint and smooth things a bit. Use the “k) Blender Blur” brush and just draw horizontal lines with light pressure to blend the colours.

Another method to blend or mix colours is to colour pick by holding the [Ctrl] key and painting successive strokes. We need to change a few settings of the colour picker. Activate the Colour Sampler Tool [P] Color Sampler Tool Krita and go to the tool options docker. Increase the radius to 20px and reduce the blend to 80%. Radius value will tell Krita to pick colours from a patch of 20px and average those colours. And blend value will tell Krita to blend the current foreground colour with the colour that is picked.

Tool options for colour picker

So this will give us nice middle colour to paint our stroke and if you do it in succession you will get a nice and smooth gradation like shown in the video below

We will mix some colours inside the clouds with this technique in addition to the blender blur brush. If you want to select a pure colour then increase the blending to 100%.

Add some of the purple in between the clouds and blend most of the colours. Then add highlights in the middle of the clouds.

Step 6

Now will paint some vegetation, and land on the horizon. We will also paint a nice lighthouse. Add a new layer with the [Insert] key. We will keep using the same f) Bristles-4 Glaze brush, but with the size of 125px. Colour pick the dark red colour and paint some vertical strokes on the symmetry line.

Keep drawing the strokes till you have covered roughly a little less than 1/3rd of the canvas. Paint some coconut trees in between roughly to make it more interesting. Then draw a lighthouse just at the end of the landmass. While painting I found that the clouds are very near to the light house so we can switch back to the layer which has clouds and adjust the clouds by erasing and then painting some thin ones instead. Remember to switch back to the topmost layer again.

On the topmost layer, we will now pick darker colour next to the red and paint over the patch again roughly covering all of it. Then repeat again with the darkest colour. This will give us a nice edge with reddish gradation.

Check out the video below to see real time painting.

Now pick some dark green colours on the palette and paint inside the patch to depict vegetation. Pick light green from the second row of the palette and add some highlights too.

Step 7

Now we will paint the sea. We are still using the same glaze brush, but with a size between 25-100px. Resize the brush size according to your needs and comfort from the slider on the top bar or use the [ and ] shortcut keys.

We will colour pick the dark blue from the topmost row in the palette. We do not need the symmetry tool any more so we will de-activate it by clicking the icon on the top bar again.

Add a new layer with the [Insert] key again. While the brush tool is active, we will press and hold the [v] key and draw a straight line across the horizon starting from the edge of the landmass. We will then draw the shoreline with some wavy lines. The lines should be skewed a bit so as to give a sense of perspective. Refer to the video below to get an idea. Fill the area of the sea with dark blue colour and add some horizontal lines for highlights with the colour of the sky, which is purple and orange. We will blend colours using the earlier technique.

We will also reduce some of the light yellow coloured band on the horizon since it won’t be the lightest area in our painting, it will be the area where the sun will be. Pick the orange colour and paint a straight line on the light yellow band and then blend the colour.

Step 8

Now we are in the final stages of the painting. We will merge all the layers now. Select all the layers in the layer docker by clicking the topmost layer and then while pressing and holding the [Shift] key click on the initial Background layer. Press the [Ctrl + E] to merge all the layer into one.

Now we will work on the reflections. Select the “k) Blender Rake” brush and with brush size ranging from 40 to 80px draw horizontal strokes over the reflections of the landmass. The rake will distort the reflections. Do not overdo the strokes and while painting on the reflections of the lighthouse take a bigger sized brush and gently push towards the sides. Keep some randomness in the strokes. Paint some strokes with the rake brush over the sea too.

Reflection - painting a sunset - krita
Distorted reflection with the rake brush.

Step 9

We will add a new layer and choose the “f) Bristles-1 Details” brush. Now colour pick the lightest yellow colour in our palette and start painting the edge of the waves. The waves will be more prominent as they get near the shore. Paint some thick waves for some portions to show how waves roll over the sand.

With the same colour draw the sun just above the horizon. And draw the reflection of the sun on the seawater. Pick some ochre colour from the canvas and paint over the reflection on the shore. This will add some organic feel as the whole beach can’t have perfect reflections like a mirror. Draw some shadowy parts beneath the thicker waves to enhance them and give them some depth.

Add a new layer and then switch to the Gradient tool. Make sure the gradient shape in the tool options docker is Radial. Using the medium yellow colour from the palette draw a gradient originating from the sun. Change the layer blending mode to Overlay. Pick some sky colour and draw some gradient originating from the left top and bottom edges.

Switch to the brush tool with [B] key and paint some highlights on the seawater. Then on the layer below, add some shadows beneath the waves.

Again add a new layer and pick the light yellow colour. Switch to the gradient tool and draw a gradient originating from the sun. Change the layer blending mode to Screen. On this layer, paint some more clouds with light yellow colour and also paint the highlights on the lighthouse and the vegetation.

Switch to the layer below which has overlay mode and paint some more details, add some more pink colour on the sand and clouds.

Step 10

This is the last stage of this tutorial. This stage will bring life to the painting and improve it. Add a new layer on top of everything and switch to brush tool. Choose “f) Bristles-2 Flat Rough” and paint some final details. Add some mid-tones and shadows to the sand and clouds, Add some bluish colour from the sky to the seawater. Analyze the painting yourself and adjust the colours.

Merge all the layers and go to Filter menu -> Adjust -> HSV Adjustment. increase the saturation and lightness a bit. Then from the Filter menu -> Adjust -> Colour Adjustment Curves [Ctrl +M]. Choose the red channel from the dropdown. Click on the centre of the graph and move the line to make it a curve. Repeat the process with the blue channel and press okay. We added some more red and blue colours in the image through this dialog.

Editing red channel in the colour adjustment curve

Then when you are satisfied with the results export the painting to post on the web or print it and frame it. This can also be given as a gift to someone. Here is the final result.

Krita sunset tutorial - completed image
Sunset on the beach 🙂

I hope you learnt something from this tutorial and I will be glad to see your paintings. If you have any questions or want to share something feel free to comment or mail me. If you find this post helpful and want to buy me a coffee for sharing it just check out my page on Kofi or donate through my PayPal page. Or you can also buy my sunset painting as a print from here. Wish you a very Happy New Year.

5 Comments

This type of “how to” is particularly helpful to me. Time lapse is fun to watch, but it slides right off my memory. I think this and the “lemon slice” lesson will help beginners in Krita. I hope you will do some work with Krita 5. I find the menu changes and “hidden” features confusing until I thrash with them. It would be nice to have your experienced hand leading us through a few basic projects that show the fundamental structure. The lemon slice is a great example.
Thanks for what you do.

Thanks for providing this useful information.
I’ve switched from photoshop to krita a year ago, and it seems the best decision I’ve ever made. I can create industry standard artwork in krita, its all i really need.
I recommend buy a drawing tablet like XP-Pen ( https://www.xp-pen.com ) . That’s the best way to use Krita. Even one of the cheaper XP-Pen Star models is perfect.

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