How to Paint Snow Scenes


Snow scenes are tricky to paint for beginners because, if you pay careful attention on a snowy afternoon, snow does not appear to be purely white. Depending on the angle of the sun and the time of day, snow can look red, yellow, pink, purple, blue, gray or brown. To grasp the three-dimensional essence of snow, you must be able to incorporate a variety of different colors of snow into your painting.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Canvas
  • Paint mixing tray
  • Acrylic or oil paint
  • 1/4- or 1/2-inch flat bristle paint brush
  • Fan paint brush
  • Paper towels
  • Cup of water
  • Lightly sketch your drawing onto the canvas. When you sketch the snow on the ground, draw small, simple guidelines where you believe the snowbanks should be.

  • Paint all of the areas that will not be covered in snow. Paint the sky, the pine needles on trees, the sidewalk or anything else that may be clearly visible through the snow.

  • Dip your flat brush into the cup of water. Using your white acrylics or oils, paint the snow on the ground that is in the sun, but not in direct sunlight, such as the slopes of snowbanks.

  • Mix some pale blue paint. Use much less blue than you think that you will need. It is easier to make darker paint by adding more blue than it is to make lighter paint by adding more white. Mix your colors until your paint is roughly 80-percent pale blue and 20-percent swirls of white and blue.

  • Paint the snowy shadows on your canvas with the pale blue paint. Think about where the sun is located in relation to your snow scene. Your shadows will be underneath the trees, at the base of your snow banks and behind snowy slopes.

  • Rinse your brush in the cup of water and dry it off. Carefully blend the areas between the white snow and the blue snow by stroking the brush diagonally from the white down into the blue. Clean your brush if you start to spread blue snow too far into the white snow.

  • Mix some pale yellow paint the same way that you mixed the blue paint. The yellow paint should be so pale that it is more of an off-white color than a true yellow color.

  • Paint the snowy highlights on your canvas. These are the areas that are directly in beams of sunlight, like the top of the snow banks. You should have much more blue and white in your snow scene than yellow. Blend the yellow and white the same way that you blended the blue and white.

  • Take your fan brush and carefully dip only the tips of the dry bristles into the white paint.

  • Lightly tap the brush across the tree branches in horizontal lines to create a snowy tree branch effect.

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  • Photo Credit paint brush image by Horticulture from
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