I love painting landscapes. I will go over some general workflow that usually helps me. After that, I will share some general tips that could be helpful for people starting out. I want to share a workflow for good study and sketching. People might be tempted to start with details, but I like to keep it pretty loose.
To start your practice I recommend finding good reference pictures. Beginners find only one that they like and try to copy it. It is better if you have multiple images because it will help to combine ideas and create something new. There are plenty of good resources that have a lot of landscape photography. I have my own library that I collect on my computer. Let me know in the comments if you have good places for references you love.
After you picked the references I suggest changing the ratio of your canvas just a bit. It will also force you to create something new and not just try to copy the photo.
A great start for a painting is finding the horizon line and start with a line. Sketching out the big shapes is great practice especially if you are starting out. A lot of people start with value or color, but I usually get better results if I sketch first.
I usually start with gray background since it helps to establish the values better. A good rule is to divide your painting in front, middle, and background. This will helps to give more depth to your painting.
For the trees, I just did the shape because it will be easy to add later. Do not focus on detail and keep it loose. It is easy to focus on details too early before your art is established.
I divided the painting into 3 values. Usually, the front is very dark, and the background is very light. The main reason is because of the atmospheric perspective. Air collects so it makes everything whiter.
Most of the time the air sits at the bottom of the mountain, so the top part will look clearer than the bottom. I paint with simple airbrush at the very end of my painting to add that effect
You can also divide your front/mid/back into 3 values after you are done with the setup. You will have around 9 values that will help you establish your painting.
Do not forget to flip your canvas from time to time. It will help you to look at your painting with fresh eyes. Flip Canvas is in your quick access tool by default, so you can just use that.
Somewhere in the middle of my painting, I pushed the mountains lower. Before the horizon line was in the middle. It does not look good because it does not look dynamic. Try to stay away from putting things in the middle. Now you can see that the water/mountain/sky has a nice 1:2:3 ratio. It is not perfect but it gives it a more interesting look.
At this point, I just add more details and try to keep it interesting. The same rules apply for details as for values. You want to keep your details to big, medium, small. Each part should feel consistent. More detail will ask for more attention. I wanted for the viewer to look at the mountain on the right so I will add the most details there.
Do not forget to check your values when you paint. I know I said it many times, but getting it right will make your art look two times better. An easy way is to create a pure black layer on top and set the blending mode to Color. This will turn your painting to black and white. Do not use desaturate tool. It will look different.
After more painting, I start to add color. An easy way to do that is to use gradient maps, color/overlay/soft light/hard light blending mode. I suggest adding it slowly and play with opacity. Do not overdo it. You can always add more contrast later with curves.
I also recommend using very little color variation when you first starting out. It is best to keep your color pallete limited and add later when you need it.
Later in my painting, I added a picture that I found on the Clip Studio Paint store. It was just a simple water texture that I found. I set to to Overlay and kept it at low opacity. It was also a bit too intense in saturation so I removed some color from it.
Here is the link for it
It is free so you can use it too. I mostly wanted to add more texture and not paint water too long because it is very time consuming. I still had to add more details to it and add color.
Speaking of water, after I was done with primary details and water I added the reflection for it. An easy way to do it is to duplicate the mountain part and then flip it vertically ( Ctrl + T -> Right-click and chose flip vertical ). After that is done just add it to water and add motion blur.
Set the settings to 90 degrees and play around with strength.
For the sky, I just added another cloud image that I found on clip studio paint materials. I set it to overlay and painted over it just a bit.
There is also a really cool brush pack I saw that I recommend using. It is pretty cheap and looks great.
You can also make your own with no problems.
For the final edit, I used some airbrushes with soft light/overlay to add more contrast to my image. It helped to add more to the painting and let you focus more. I also changed the composition just a bit. After looking at it I realized that my landscape should be more wide. I simply extended the canvas and duplicated the rest.
The top is my older version and the bottom is my new version. You can also check out my tutorial on composition I wrote a while back. It can help you to get started with better sketching and values.
The landscape also uses a lot of perspective rules and horizon lines. If you are confused there is a simple tutorial on that as well.
Thanks for reading. You can also watch the video of my timelapse and listen to my commentary. I go over the same thing but in broader terms with more depth to it. Let me know if you have any questions here or under my video. I would love to hear what your thoughts are.
You can also follow me on social media if you want to follow my work.