Painting a Serene Moon on the Ocean A Step-by-Step Watercolor Tutorial

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase via the links, we will earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Please read the full disclosure.

Before we begin, let’s gather the essential materials you’ll need for this watercolor tutorial:

With these materials at hand, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your watercolor skyline painting journey.

Introduction to watercolor painting

Watercolor painting is a unique and captivating medium that allows for a wide range of expression. The transparency of the pigments and the way they blend and flow on the paper create a sense of depth and movement that is unmatched by other mediums. Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a beginner, watercolor painting offers an opportunity to explore your creativity and capture the beauty of the natural world.


As we embark on this journey together, I will share my knowledge and techniques, ensuring that you have a solid understanding of the materials needed, color selection, and the step-by-step process involved in creating a breathtaking watercolor painting of a serene moon on the ocean. So, let’s dive in and unleash your artistic potential!

Choosing the right colors for an ocean watercolor painting

Selecting the appropriate colors is crucial in creating a realistic and captivating watercolor ocean scene. The colors you choose will not only determine the overall mood and atmosphere of your painting but also contribute to the depth and realism of the ocean and sky.

Here are some recommended colors to consider for your watercolor ocean painting:

  1. Blues: Various shades of blue are essential for depicting the ocean and sky. Consider including colors like cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, and Prussian blue in your palette.

  2. Purples and violets: These colors can be used to create the stunning reflections and shadows in the water, as well as for the night sky.

  3. Yellows and oranges: These warm colors will be useful for creating the glowing effect of the moon and adding depth to the reflections on the water’s surface.


Step 1

Sketch the moon and ocean: Draw a horizontal line near the center of the paper to represent the horizon line. Sketch the moon's shape above the horizon line, ensuring it's positioned off-center for a more dynamic composition.


Step 2



Step 3

Paint the sky: Start by mixing a light blue color, such as sky blue, on your palette. Gradually add water to create a wash that's slightly diluted but still vibrant.


Step 4

Create a gradient effect: Rinse your brush and mix a lighter shade of purple or violet. Apply this lighter wash to the middle section of the sky, blending it seamlessly with the sky blue at the top. Incorporate yellow at the bottom of the sky.


Step 5

Paint the clouds: Use small round brush dipped with various of violet shades to create the shapes of clouds,


Step 6

Dry the paper


Step 7

Paint the ocean: Mix the sky blue and the violet in your palette and use big round brush to fill the ocean area with your mixed color.


Step 8

Create a gradient effect: Load the brush with pure blue color and apply the lighter wash at the bottom.


Step 9

Paint the ocean waves on wet background: While the wash is still damp, use a round brush to create the shapes of the waves. Start with the larger waves near the horizon line and gradually make them smaller as you move towards the bottom of the paper.


Step 10

Paint the ocean waves: Once the paper gets dried, apply the violet blue wash to the tops and crests of the waves, and create a sense of movement.


Step 11

Add highlights reflection effects: Load the same liner brush with white wash, and add white marks on top of the blue waves.


Step 12

Paint the moon and stars: Paint the moon and stars, adding any final touches or adjustments to enhance their luminosity and impact. Use a small, pointed brush to add subtle details to the stars and waves.

Remember, the key to a successful watercolor painting is knowing when to stop. Overworking the paper can lead to muddy colors and a loss of the medium’s natural luminosity and transparency. Trust your instincts and step back frequently to evaluate your progress.

Tips and tricks for creating a serene moon on the ocean watercolor painting

Congratulations! You’ve completed a stunning watercolor painting of a serene moon on the ocean. Throughout this tutorial, we’ve explored the techniques and steps involved in creating a captivating and realistic ocean scene using watercolors.

As you continue to practice and refine your skills, here are a few additional tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  1. Observe and study: Take the time to observe and study the colors, textures, and movements of the ocean and sky. This will help you capture the essence of the scene more accurately in your paintings.

  2. Practice and experiment: Watercolor painting is a continuous learning process. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques, color combinations, and compositions. Each painting is an opportunity to learn and grow as an artist.

  3. Embrace imperfections: Watercolor painting is known for its unpredictable nature, and it’s essential to embrace the happy accidents and imperfections that arise during the process. These unexpected moments can often lead to beautiful and unique results.

  4. Use high-quality materials: Investing in high-quality watercolor paper, paints, and brushes will not only make the painting process more enjoyable but also contribute to the overall quality and longevity of your artwork.

  5. Develop your own style: While it’s important to learn from tutorials and guidance, ultimately, the goal is to develop your own unique style and artistic voice. Experiment, explore, and let your creativity shine through in your watercolor ocean paintings.

If you’re passionate about watercolor painting and want to take your skills to the next level, consider joining my online watercolor course. With step-by-step video tutorials, personalized feedback, and a supportive community of fellow artists, you’ll have the opportunity to master the art of watercolor painting and create stunning works of art. Enroll now and unlock your artistic potential!

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