Featured image of beautiful skies painted in Pixia

Create Beautiful Sunrise and Sunset Skies With Pixia

This article is copyrighted (c) to Christina Roberts. All rights reserved.

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I recently saw this image tutorial on DeviantArt about how to paint a sky with Pixia and I decided to make my own version for English-speaking users. So here’s my method of making sunrise or sunset colored skies with Pixia. There’s a lot of modifications you can use to this approach. It’s very organic, so please view this tutorial as a starting ground for this method. The tools we’ll be using are simply the paintbrush (Color), Rub tool, Blur tool and Blur 2 tool. We’ll be making our sky all on one layer.

Sister Video (uses different canvas so sunset/sunrise looks different):

1) Draw lines of Color on the same layer

Select the color palette you want for your sky. I’m using a pink, purple, and blue pastel-type palette, with some medium hues in there.

Colors for sunrise/sunset sky
My color palette to make my sunrise/sunset sky

Then select the Color (paintbrush) tool and a medium-size decently hard brush. Paint the lines in a horizontal fashion on the layer, top to bottom. The size of your brush should vary based on the size of your canvas. My canvas is 800×600 pixels. Experiment with angling, but make sure the majority of your lines are generally horizontal. There’s no wrong way to do this. Just make sure to get as much or as little of all your colors on the canvas that you want. Also, make sure to leave quite a bit of white underneath or your sky may look too “heavy” later on.

Sky palette lines
Your sky should look somewhat like this when all your palette colors are applied to your canvas.

2) Rub the color to make it generally blended

Sky lines wrong rub effect
If you Rub too quickly with a brush that’s too hard, you’ll end up with these circular shapes. They look cool, but that’s not what we’re going for here.

Select the  Rub tool. Enlarge your brush considerably and slide the hardness all the way left (softest). If your brush is too hard, and especially if you try to rush the Rubbing, you’ll end up with strange, ugly circular shapes. So go a little slow and make sure your brush is soft enough to Rub cleanly. When ready, Rub left to right generally to smooth the color. If you Rub up and down, your color with smudge unnaturally. Your piece should look generally like this now. The lines are smooth, but not as blended yet as we’re going for.

Sky Rubbed
Our sky is starting to take shape!

3) Blur 2 Tool to Get the Blending Going

Now select the  Blur 2 tool, keep your brush as soft as it can go, reduce the size to 1/2 or 3/5 of what you currently have it set at, and drop your Density (Opacity) down to 50 or so (on a 0/255 scale). Whichever one you like more. We’re going to draw all the intermediary “blurred” color in here and then use the regular Blur Tool in the next step to further soften all the colors. If your Density is too high, your brush too hard, or too large, then the colors will blur into whatever your majority color on the canvas is and just become a big muddy canvas of that color. We want all the colors to exist together. If you find one of your colors is overtaking your canvas, you can always re-paint in another color from your palette, use the Rub tool, and then Blur 2 again. I do also encourage you to experiment with different sizes of brushes and Density. When I used Blur 2, I used a smaller and a much larger soft brush size to achieve the blending I wanted. You may not need to run all the way across the canvas either. See what Blurring only partially across your canvas does.

What my sky looks like after using Blur 2 on it.

4) Refine with Blur

Further blend and smooth the canvas out with the regular  Blur tool. Use the largest, hardest brush on 100% Density (Opacity). If you over-blur, you may remove interesting details from the canvas, though, so use your best judgment.

Sky from Blur
Sky after using regular Blur. Similar to the one above from Blur 2.

5) Further Refinements

If you think your sky looks off in some manner, further refine it by using a soft brush to repaint color onto the canvas, then using Blur 2, Rub, and Blur as you see fit. You can also paint white in the corner to make it look like a cloud is there. Give it a try! This is just the foundational method, so refine to your liking!

I thought there was still too much purple and pink in my canvas. I wanted my sky lighter, so I painted soft white over it (softest brush, medium size, only about 10/255 Density) and refined it. Now it looks like the finished version below and I quite like it!

Finished sunset/sunrise sky
My finished sky! I painted in a lot more very soft, low Density white and Blurred, Rubbed the white into the sky.

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