PE: How to Make Pixel Clouds
|10 min read
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By IceXDragon   |   Watch
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Published: April 18, 2014


How to Make Pixel Clouds

Hello!:la:

In this tutorial, I will be showing you how to make pixel clouds. I have two different types of clouds I use depending on the piece; semi-realistic, and cartoon style. I will be showing you both today!:dummy:

Let us start!:eager:


Semi-Realistic


The semi realistic style can be done two ways, depending on if you are limiting colors or not.
First, I'm going to show you the way for if you do not care how many colors you use.;)

Clouds1 by IceXDragon
First you will pull out your pencil brush, as you would normally do when making pixel art, and set the color to white. After that, set the opacity to around 10%-20%.

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Clouds2 by IceXDragon
Randomly brush side to side with the pencil, and then overlap some lines randomly as well.:giggle:

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Clouds3 by IceXDragon
Keep doing that until the cloud if about as big as you need it; it should look something like this.c:

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Clouds4 by IceXDragon
Zoomed out.:dummy:

Okay, now this is the other way we can do semi-realistic. This way is for if you are trying to limit colors, or simply do not have the opacity tool on your program.;) The brushing is very similar, but we just prepare differently.:nod:
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Clouds6 by IceXDragon
So start out by picking a few colors relative to the background, this will be your pallet. I usually pick about 4 colors, but you can have more or less if you want.:D
If your program has opacity, you can take a shortcut for picking out colors.:meow: For this cloud pallet, I took the opacity to 16%. The first color on the pallet is one layer of the color, the second is 3 layers, third is 7 layers, and forth is 10 layers. Of coarse you can change that up a bit, but that is just what I used.:giggle:

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Clouds7 by IceXDragon
So much like the first way I showed you, just make some random lines with your pallet you made to form the cloud. Although clouds vary, the good rule of thumb when you are making clouds is to have the middle part the most densely white, and work you way out with the less dense colors.

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Cloud8 by IceXDragon
Here I just mixed the colors around and dithered a little bit to make the cloud look cleaner. Make sure to do this otherwise your cloud might look sort of unnatural.;p

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Clouds9 by IceXDragon
Zoomed out it looks like a pwetty pixel cloud!C:


Cartoon Style


The cartoon style can be used for a number of situations, like perhaps the piece is very lighthearted, or you are using a single cloud as a focal point, for like if someone is having bad day, and have a single cloud raining on them.>.>
It is not as simple as the semi-realistic cloud, but still not too hard to pull off. Let's get started!:eager:

Clouds10 by IceXDragon
Firstly, set your pencil brush to a dark grey (don't worry too much about it, you can change the shade later), and set the brush size big enough so that is is nicely round. 10px, 13px, 15px, and 17px are good sizes, but basically any size do. Except for 14px, the 14 pixel circle is kind of ugly.:shifty:

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Clouds11 by IceXDragon
So now, just blotch those circles together until a resembles a cloud shape like...

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Clouds12 by IceXDragon
This!:boogie:

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Clouds13 by IceXDragon
Now hollow it out!:la:

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Clouds14 by IceXDragon

So now, following roughly the same shape of the outline, color the bottom of the cloud grey (The light source for this is coming from the upper left).

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Clouds15 by IceXDragon
With a lighter shade of grey, do basically the same thing, working inwards.

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Clouds16 by IceXDragon
And just keep working inwards using, lighter and lighter shades, until you get to white. You might have to play around with the contrast of the colors too if you think you need to, but I think these are about right.

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Clouds17 by IceXDragon
Dither it! If you do not know what I'm talking about, you can find a great dithering tutorial here!:happybounce:

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Clouds18 by IceXDragon
And now, take a lighter shade of grey (You don't have to worry about using 50), and shade the edge of the outline of the cloud. I used 2 extra shades - a lighter one for the majority of the top left corner (where the light source is coming from), and one a little bit less light, just to make the transition smoother from light grey to dark grey.;)
This step is important, because it really does improve the cloud a lot.:o It makes it look all shiny.c:

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Cloud19 by IceXDragon
And there you have your cartoon style cloud!:hooray:


So that is the end of the tutorial! I hope you learned something from this, and will be able to use this in the future!:happybounce:

Any questions, just ask in the comments!:lawoo:

Have an awesome day!






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Comments (20)
CloudedLatha's avatar
CloudedLatha|Hobbyist General Artist
Excellent tutorial.
Reply  ·  
IceXDragon's avatar
IceXDragon|Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks.:)
Reply  ·  
bogidream's avatar
WOW Thank you sharing it. Maybe I'll use it in the future :) 
Reply  ·  
IceXDragon's avatar
IceXDragon|Hobbyist General Artist
No problem.:D I'm glad you found it useful.c:
Reply  ·  
SongMina's avatar
SongMina|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh! This was really good, understandable and easy tutorial! You have done a GREAT job!
Reply  ·  
IceXDragon's avatar
IceXDragon|Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Reply  ·  
SongMina's avatar
SongMina|Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your welcome!
Reply  ·  
Quanyails's avatar
Quanyails| Digital Artist
Might I suggest some tips on your tutorial? :) I first disagree about your categorization of 'realistic', 'semi-realistic', and 'cartoon-style' clouds. Clouds come in a variety of shapes and volumes, so it would be incorrect to say that thin ones are realistic when fluffy cumulus clouds exist. How would you explain pixelizing fool's clouds here?

Speaking of, even if one is using a cartoon style for clouds, pillow-shading should be avoided. The outline you give the cloud has no contribution to the lighting on it, which appears to be coming from below, given the gradient of the sky. The cloud lacks the 'fluff' and texture expected from a lumpy mass of water vapor in its shading, relegating it to the outline. I would suggest to highlight each 'lump' individually and soften their edges instead of making a giant highlight in the center at the cost of form later in the cloud's entirety.
Reply  ·  
IceXDragon's avatar
IceXDragon|Hobbyist General Artist
Hey! Thank you for your suggestions on the tutorial.:)

Yes, I'm not saying that this is the only way to make realistic looking clouds, certainly  there are more than just cirrus clouds, but these are the clouds I normally make using this method.  Though, I have made puffy clouds using that method before as well.:giggle: 
I am not saying that big puffy cumulus clouds are cartoony, I'm saying that clouds that have an outline and are shaded on the inside are cartoony.;p I do agree though about adding more "puff" to the shading of the could. :nod:

Actually, given the way the background is shaded, the light could indeed be coming from the top left, justifying the cloud being shaded that way. As seen in these 2 photos  draym.deviantart.com/art/Clear… stetre76.deviantart.com/art/Cl… , and really any other picture of the sky, it is light blue at the ground level, and gradually gets darker as you go up. I'm not quite sure why this is, I guess it is just the way the sun reflects the ground or something.:shrug:
Reply  ·  
iDJPanda's avatar
iDJPanda|Student General Artist
Awesome tutorial! :clap: I gotta try this. c:
Reply  ·  
IceXDragon's avatar
IceXDragon|Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks.:meow: Go for it!:la:
Reply  ·  
SparklyDest's avatar
SparklyDest|Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Sweet tutorial!
Reply  ·  
IceXDragon's avatar
IceXDragon|Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks!
Reply  ·  
MafiaVamp's avatar
:la: I like the semi-realistic one a lot! The dithering on the Cartoon Style is nice too, though I feel the highlights could be a bit more diversely spread ;)
Reply  ·  
IceXDragon's avatar
IceXDragon|Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! And yeah, do you mean like add more curves to make it look more puffy?:giggle:
Reply  ·  
MafiaVamp's avatar
Sorta, yes XD
Reply  ·  
LittleLemonSeed's avatar
LittleLemonSeed|Hobbyist Traditional Artist
<3
Reply  ·  
ArtByCher's avatar
ArtByCher| Traditional Artist
:thumbsup:
Reply  ·  
Schwannie's avatar
Amazing </3 Now, the only thing I need is an application that'd allow me to make pixel art on the iPad >:'D
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