Two Ways to Get Smooth Color with Colored Pencils

One of the biggest challenges for most of us is getting rid of paper holes in our color layers. No matter what the subject, we’re always looking for better ways to get smooth color with colored pencils.

That’s especially important if your subject includes a sky. Unless they’re filled with clouds, most skies move seamlessly from one shade of blue to another, and from light to dark. You simply can’t afford to have edges between those shades. Nor are paper holes acceptable.

“But aren’t solvents or complex techniques necessary for absolutely smooth color?” you ask.

No. Let me share two ways I use to get smooth color, and you already have the tools!

The first sample is on 140lb hot press watercolor paper, which is fairly smooth.

The second sample is on Canson Mi-Teintes, which is not so smooth. These two methods can be used on most papers suitable for colored pencil.

Two Ways to Get Smooth Color with Colored Pencils

Get smooth color by careful layering.

The best way to get smooth color with colored pencils is by careful layering. It doesn’t matter what you’re drawing, or what pencils or paper you use. Draw each layer so carefully that the color needs little or no blending.

For the smoothest color, use light pressure through several layers. Each layer you add fills in the tooth of the paper more, creating steadily smoother color.

You can use heavy pressure to get smooth color. The darkest stripe in the sample below was drawn with very heavy pressure. The other values are multiple layers of repeating strokes applied with light pressure.

Two Ways to Get Smooth Color with Colored Pencils - Layering

Layer multiple colors to create new colors or subtle variations, as well as create smooth color.

Keep your pencils sharp, so they reach down into the tooth of the paper. Small strokes are also best for layering smooth color. Many artists also recommend circular strokes because they don’t leave edges. If you’re new to colored pencil and learning how to draw, then it is better to learn circular stroking.

But if you’re an established artist, you may already have developed other strokes that produce the desired results. Continue to use those strokes.

Get smooth color by blending with paper towel.

The second way to get smooth color with colored pencils is to blend it with paper towel. This method works especially well on Canson Mi-Teintes and other toothier papers.

Let me show you how to blend with paper towel.

Fold a piece of paper towel into quarters or smaller, depending on your hand size and the size of the area you want to blend. The paper should be small enough to hold firmly, but large enough to blend effectively. I usually fold a sheet of paper towel three times.

Rub the paper towel against the drawing. It’s next to impossible to cause damage (other than by blending over the edges,) so don’t be afraid to use heavy pressure.

Two Ways to Get Smooth Color with Colored Pencils- Paper Towel Step 1

Some color will come off on the paper towel. That’s okay. You can continue to blend with this paper, but be aware that if you begin blending an area of a different color, the first color will come off on the new color, especially if the second color is lighter than the first color.

Two Ways to Get Smooth Color with Colored Pencils- Paper Towel Step 2

The illustration below shows blending on the left side, but not on the right. It doesn’t seem like it would do very much, but on Canson Mi-Teintes, it’s very productive.

Two Ways to Get Smooth Color with Colored Pencils - Blended Sample

I have blended with paper towel on just about every type of paper I use regularly. That includes Stonehenge, Canson Mi-Teintes, and 140lb hot press watercolor paper.

If getting smooth color with colored pencils is one one of your big challenges, give these two methods a try.

How to Draw Clouds with Colored Pencil

Two of the more popular posts here are How to Draw Thunderhead Clouds in graphite, and How to Draw a Clear Sky with Colored Pencil. Today, we’ll combine those two subjects with a tutorial showing you how to draw clouds with colored pencil.

In a blue sky, of course!

How to Draw Clouds with Colored Pencil

About the Demonstration Art

The sample study was painted on Canson Mi-Teintes 98lb paper, Azure. If you use Canson Mi-Teintes, make sure to use the smooth side. You can use the front if you wish, but the texture will be more difficult to work with and finishing will take longer.

My cloud study is quite small, 4″ x 2.75″, and is a Drawing of the Week. I used a combination of layering and solvent blending, along with the direct method.

It was also the first time I’d used Canson Mi-Teintes‘ Azure paper, which is a very soft, light shade of blue.

How to Draw Clouds with Colored Pencil

Step 1: Lightly outline the clouds and land and shade the sky.

Use very light pressure to outline the clouds and the horizon. You can use the same color for both, or use a medium blue to outline the clouds and medium gray-green to outline the horizon.

Keep the edges somewhat soft since clouds very rarely have crisp edges.

TIP: Use at least two shades of blue, one medium and one light. The colors you choose should reflect the color of the sky you’re drawing, since skies are not the same shade of blue everywhere.

Next, shade the sky with the same blue you used to outline the clouds. Use light pressure and the stroke that gives you the most even color. Start at the top with a sharp pencil and layer color about three-quarters of the way down the sky. Work carefully around the clouds.

Follow that with a lighter value blue. Start at the top again, but this time, layer blue all the way to the horizon.

If you’re using a very light blue, start at the horizon and layer that upward to a little past the halfway mark.

Use light pressure with all the colors and do at least two layers of each, rotating through the colors as you work. You want smooth gradations in color and value.

How to Draw Clouds Step 1

Step 2: Lift a few more clouds with mounting putty.

Use mounting putty to lift a little color from the sky to create thin, wispy clouds if you wish.

Shape the putty into small shapes, press it lightly against the paper, then reshape it. If you don’t, you may end up with a pattern of lifted color that’s too regular in shape to look like clouds.

How to Draw Clouds Step 2

Step 3: Blend with odorless mineral spirits or other art solvent.

You can use a brush (the most common way.) Dip the brush into a little solvent, then “paint” it over the color. The solvent dissolves the color and allows the different shades of blue to mix almost like paint.

I used a cotton swab instead of a brush. In the blue at the top, I tapped the color repeatedly with the end of the swab. Too many times, as it turned out, because I began lifting color (as you can see below.)

In the rest of the sky, I rolled the side of the cotton along the sky in horizontal strokes. Once to moisten the color, then again to blend it.

If you lifted color to create light, wispy clouds, work around them unless you want to reshape them by blending into them. Don’t wet them completely.

How to Draw Clouds Step 3

TIP: If you need to soften edges, blend over them as shown around the clouds around the center patch of blue sky, and in the clouds leading toward the upper, right corner.

Step 4: Continue layering and blending until the blue sky is finished.

Layer color and blend with solvent, until the sky is finished to your satisfaction.

If you need to, you can also do the final blend with a colorless blender.

How to Draw Clouds Step 4

Step 5: Draw the landscape using the same methods.

Draw the landscape using the same layering and blending method. The landscape is really the stage for the main subject, the clouds, so you don’t need to put a lot of detail into it.

Since this tutorial is about the clouds and not the land, I’ll show the first round of color, and the finished landscape.

How to Draw Clouds Step 5

I did three or four rounds of layering color and blending with solvent to reach this point (below.) The landscape isn’t completely finished, but I’ll do the clouds before making any changes to either the sky or the landscape.

How to Draw Clouds Step 6

Step 6: Shade the dark values in the clouds

Carefully sketch in and shade the darkest values in the clouds with a medium value blue-gray color. Use a sharp pencil and put down multiple layers to create a variety of values.

Pay close attention to the overlap of clouds. Each set of clouds is different, so don’t rush, and don’t draw generic clouds.

How to Draw Clouds Step 7

After you’ve put three or four layers of color into the shadows and darker middle values, blend with solvent.

Step 7: Layer the same blue, a medium gray, and a lighter gray-blue into the shadows and darker values.

Darken the shadows and darker middle values with alternating layers of the same blue you used in Step 6, plus a medium gray, and a gray-blue lighter than the previous blue.

Focus your attention on the shadows, but also layer the two shades of blue into the middle values.

Very lightly layer the lighter blue into the lighter middle values.

How to Draw Clouds Step 8

Step 8: Blend with solvent, and pull dissolved color into the lighter parts of the clouds.

Blend with solvent. Blot the brush before touching the paper to remove excess solvent.

Begin blending in the darkest areas. Observe the edges of those shapes carefully, especially where they overlap lighter areas.

Also pull color from the darker middle values into the lighter middle values to create even lighter middle values. Work around the white areas. They will be the highlights in the clouds, so you need to preserve them.

How to Draw Clouds Step 9

Step 9: Continue layering and blending until you get the color, values, and saturation you want.

Since this small piece was a study and a Drawing of the Week, I didn’t push the details. The finished study, below, represents two more rounds of layering color and blending with solvent.

I finished by burnishing the clouds with a light blue Prismacolor pencil. Prismacolor because they’re wax-based, and good for burnishing. Light blue to unify the values in the clouds and because the color was just the right touch for the hint of shadow in the brightest part of the clouds.

How to Draw Clouds Finished

As already mentioned, this is only a color study, so isn’t as detailed as a larger painting.

But it is enough to tell me this type of painting is not only fun to do, but worth expanding into a larger, more complex piece.

Conclusion

Learning how to draw clouds is a challenging, but satisfying process. You’ll have an endless variety of subjects, even with the same cloud, since they change so quickly.

It’s also an excellent way to improve your powers of observation, and you ability to sketch and draw quickly.

In other words, it’s well worth the time!

Draw Clouds in Colored Pencil Ebook

Colored Pencil Plein Air Drawing Week 3 Report

The sky was my theme again this week.

The drawing from last week revealed my need to find better ways to put color on paper quickly and draw smooth color.

One of the ways I thought of to do that was woodless pencils. When Sue Schuetz mentioned using Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless pencils on Broken Prismacolor Pencils and How to Repair Them, I decided to get a set. I was familiar with the name, but had never used them. What better way to test them than with a plein air drawing?

However, the sky I drew was mostly cloudy and getting cloudier by the minute, so the resulting drawing looks more like an abstract than a skyscape.

2016-09-12 Plein Air Drawing Week 3

The Method I Used

I chose a very limited palette for this drawing—just three colors, shown above. White, sky blue, and light grey.

I began by layering blue on the paper and blending it with a fingertip. This method of blending isn’t usually recommended because skin oil can affect the paper or the drawing, but since I’m using inexpensive paper and this is only a sketch, it seemed appropriate. The Koh-I-Nor pencils blended very well that way.

Next I shaded the clouds with gray and blended with a fingertip. The lighter patches are paper and the darker patches are multiple layers of gray.

Finally, I burnished with white. The Koh-I-Nor white is a warm white and appeared the slightest bit yellow on the paper, but that color was perfect for my subject. I burnished everything.

The clouds I was drawing were soft and vague. Like fog in the sky. To create soft, seamless transitions from blue to gray, I blended from one color to the other when blending with a finger, but also burnished from one color to the next.

Time Spent Drawing

20 to 30 minutes.

What I Learned

The wonder of woodless. These pencils are wonderful for drawing outside. They’re softer than the Prismacolors I’ve been using, so it’s easier to lay down color.

They also don’t have a wood casing, but are about the same size as a regular pencil, so the pigment core is much larger. Even a well-sharpened pencil produces a wider stroke than a well-sharpened traditional pencil.

Let Your Fingers Do the Blending. I confess, I used to blend with my fingers all the time. Then I learned about the hazards of skin oils and colored pencils and broke myself of that habit. But for this use and on this type of paper, it’s ideal.

Tools Used

Mead Academie Sketch Book, 9 inches by 6 inches, Heavyweight white paper

Koh-I-Nor Progresso Woodless Pencil

  • Sky Blue
  • Light Grey
  • White

I did a second plein air drawing this week. This time I started with water soluble colored pencils (Faber-Castell Art Grip Aquarelle) and finished with the Koh-I-Nor woodless pencils in the studio.

Colored Pencil Plein Air Drawing Week 3

I’ve submitted an article to EmptyEasel about last week’s work, and will link that when it publishes. Stayed tuned!

About The Autumn Plein Air Drawing Challenge

It’s not too late to join me drawing outside with colored pencils.

What: Get outside and draw at least once a week

When: September 1 through October 31, 2016

I’m posting my drawings here every Monday, along with a little information about how I did my drawing, what tools I used, and what I learned.

I’ve also set up a special group board on Pinterest where I’m posting my drawing (or drawings if I do more than one). If you’d like to post your drawings, all you have to do is request an invitation to join the board. You will need a Pinterest account, but they’re free and easy to set up.

Colored Pencil Plein Air Drawing Week 2 Report

This was the first full week of the Autumn Plein Air Drawing challenge, so I had time to do more than one drawing. However, steady sometimes heavy rain from Wednesday through Saturday kept me indoors the rest of the week. I seriously considered trying my hand a water soluble colored pencils during the rain, but wasn’t keen on getting wet myself!

My subject for this week was the sky. It was early evening and the light in the clouds was ideal for drawing. Lots of colors and shadows, too.

The clouds in the sky when I finished the drawing were not the same clouds in the sky when I began. It was a day of high winds and clouds were passing quickly, so rather than try to draw a specific cloud, I drew my impression of the overall pattern of the clouds as revealed by light and shadow. The only constant was the clear, blue sky.

The Methods I Used

I began by lightly and quickly sketching the general shape of the clouds, then laid down sky color as quickly as possible around that shape. I used blunt pencils and the sides of the pencils, to layer two shades of blue—Mediterranean Blue and Light Cerulean Blue—with hatching and cross-hatching strokes.

Blunt pencils and the sides of pencils also played a major role in the clouds. This time, however, I applied color in strokes following the contours of the clouds. You can see some of the initial layers in the unfinished parts of the clouds.

I used light-medium pressure in the early stages in order to get good coverage and color as quickly as possible.

Since I didn’t have much time for detail, I concentrated on color and values and on patterns of direct light and reflected light.

It took about 30 minutes to draw this. Maybe a little longer (I need to find a timer of some sort and then learn to use it!)

Colored Pencil Plein Air Drawing Week 2
Autumn Plein Air Drawing Challenge, Drawing 2

After the initial color was on the paper, I continued adding layers to build up color and value. I added warm tones on the bright sides of the clouds and in the reflected lights between clouds.

To finish, I burnished first with a colorless blender, then with white.

Time Spent Drawing

I’m estimating a minimum of 30 minutes, but no more than 45. I sat on the front step without a back support and that’s about all the longer I could sit without getting painfully uncomfortable.

What I Learned

Use methods and tools that allow me to lay down fields of color quickly. I’m a purist by nature. I prefer using colored pencil and only colored pencil on my drawings. Solvents for blending are acceptable, but I prefer not to use them.

However, that attitude doesn’t go very far for plein air drawing unless I’m drawing a stationary subject and/or I can revisit the subject as often as I need.

For everything else, I need to unbend enough to incorporate other drawing methods and, maybe even other mediums.

Burnishing is My Friend. I’ve never been a huge fan of burnishing, either, for the simple reason that it often left my drawings looking flat and waxy. But there is a place for burnishing in plein air drawing and I have better results when I use it. It doesn’t matter whether I use a colorless blender or a colored pencil, though using a colored pencil speeds the drawing process by allowing me to adjust color or value as well as burnishing.

Tools Used

Mead Academie Sketch Book, 9 inches by 6 inches, Heavyweight white paper

Prismacolor Pencils

  • Mediterranean Blue (Sky)
  • Light Cerulean Blue (Sky)
  • Slate Gray (Clouds)
  • Jasmine (Clouds)
  • Powder Blue (Clouds)
  • Colorless Blender (Burnishing, Sky)
  • White (Burnishing, Sky & Clouds)

How to Draw a Stormy Sky in Colored Pencil

The sky sets the tone for landscape art; even in graphite. Get it right, and you have an excellent landscape drawing.

Get it wrong…. Well, lets don’t go there!

Clear skies can be difficult enough, with all those subtle gradations of blue. Add a few clouds and the difficulty increases.

A stormy sky?

The lighting may be dramatic, but is it possible to draw a stormy sky that looks realistic?

Yes!

How to Draw a Stormy Sky in Colored Pencil

I’m using the direct method of drawing for this demonstration.

I’m also using Prismacolor Thick Lead/Soft Core pencils unless otherwise noted. You should be able to match colors in whatever brand of pencil you prefer if you don’t use Prismacolor.

How to Draw a Stormy Sky in Colored Pencil

Step 1: Laying a Foundation – Slate Grey

I chose Slate Grey for the foundation color because it’s a cool color (as opposed to a warm color) and it combines gray with a strong blue tint that’s ideal for dark and stormy skies.

Since my sample also features a brightly lighted foreground, I wanted a cool color against which I can contrast all that bright, warm, foreground light. Your stormy sky might do better with a warm gray. Try a few colors and don’t be afraid to experiment. Just do most of your experimenting on scrap paper first!

Outline objects that overlap the sky then fill in around those objects using the point of a very sharp pencil and light pressure. In the trees in my sample, I used circular strokes and light to medium pressure to fill in the gaps around the edges of the trees and within the foliage. The strokes are so close together, it’s difficult to see them in this detail, but the type of stroke isn’t as important as getting an even layer of color.

The darker areas around this yellow tree are the result of several layers of Slate Grey. The lighter areas (lower right) are fewer layers. The lightest area has no color at all.

How to Draw a Stormy Sky Step 1 Detail

TIP: Unless your stormy sky is flat gray, it’s important to begin defining values from the beginning.

In the open sky, use light pressure and horizontal strokes with the side of a well-sharpened pencil. Overlap strokes and use multiple layers to create the lights and darks that represent breaks in the clouds.

Layer flat color into the trees overlapping the sky. This is the method that works best for me because it gives me a better sense of the landscape than the line drawing.

How to Draw a Stormy Sky Step 1

TIP: Unless the paper is extremely smooth, the texture will appear through the color layers when you use either a blunt pencil or the side of the pencil. The lighter the pressure, the more “broken” the color will be. Make use of the paper texture in the sky, where it helps create the look of clouds with a minimum of work.

Step 2: Darkening the Sky

Continue layering Slate Grey over the sky, beginning with a sharp pencil and light to medium pressure to work around and within the trees. Outline the outside edges, and the edges of the “sky holes” before filling in the shapes.

You can continue to work even after the pencil becomes blunt. The broader tip of a blunt pencil covers paper more quickly. It also lets the texture of the paper influence the color. As the pencil grows more blunt, increase pressure slightly to medium pressure.

You can also alternate between horizontal strokes (visible on the right) and vertical strokes on the left). I layered with horizontal strokes first, then added a layer of vertical strokes, but the order doesn’t matter.

The type of strokes you use is not as important as getting the look you want. Use whatever strokes work best for you and the type of paper you use.

How to Draw a Stormy Sky Step 2 Detail 1

In this illustration, you can see the outline on the right and the filled in areas on the left.

How to Draw a Stormy Sky Step 2 Detail 2

TIP: Continue developing variations in light and dark established in the first step. Although you darken the entire sky, there will still be light and dark areas when you finish.

Step 3: Dark Umber

Using a sharp pencil and light to medium light pressure, outline the trees overlapping the sky, including the sky holes within each tree. You may outline the horizon, but don’t have to. That edge should be soft and blurred.

Then layer dark umber over the darkest areas of the sky, keeping the pencil as sharp as possible. Around the trees, usd directional strokes. In the open sky, alternate between horizontal, vertical, and cross hatching strokes to get the most even coverage possible.

Add more layers for darker values. I actually worked around some of the lightest areas so the cool, blue-gray color wasn’t muted by the brown.

How to Draw a Stormy Sky Step 3

Step 4: Ultramarine

Once again, use a sharp pencil and medium pressure to outline overlapping objects. Then use medium to medium-heavy pressure to lay down color. Vary strokes and layers to continue developing variations in value and color.

How to Draw a Stormy Sky Step 4

Step 5: Slate Grey & Cool Grey Medium

Continue layering color with sharp pencils and a variety of strokes as you add more Slate Grey and Cool Grey.

Then burnish the darkest darks with Cool Grey and the slightly lighter areas with Slate Grey using blunt pencils and overlapping the colors. It may take couple of rounds of burnishing to completely cover the paper in the areas where you want intense dark, such as the left part of the sky and the upper sky.

In this detail, the top portion has been blended with both colors. The lighter, rounded area between the trees still needs to be done and the dark streak through the middle of that is a single, heavy application of Cool Grey Medium.

How to Draw a Stormy Sky Step 5 Detail

The light spots on the horizon have a pinkish tone compared to the darker sky. Layer Clay Rose with medium heavy pressure at the horizon in each place, then follow up with Rosy Beige applied over the Clay Rose and between the Clay Rose and the clouds.

Finally, burnish with White.

This illustration shows that area near the center of the drawing after it was burnished with White. There is another left of the yellow tree, visible as soft, light color in the following illustration.

How to Draw a Stormy Sky Step 5 Detail 2

How to Draw a Stormy Sky Step 5

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Once you finish burnishing, let the drawing—and possibly your hand—rest for a while. I usually allow drawing to sit for 24 hours before a final review. Sometimes, I find that they are finished when I look at them again.

Sometimes there’s more to do.

I went over this drawing one final time, adjusting color and value to the get right look.

How to Draw a Stormy Sky Step 6

Conclusion

If I were to finish the rest of the landscape, I’d go over the entire composition once more and make any additional adjustments that seem necessary.

Once you understand how t draw a stormy sky, you should be able to draw any kind of sky, from clear blue to dark and stormy and everything in between.


How To Draw Thunderhead Clouds

Learn how to draw thunderhead clouds, and you can draw any kind of cloud.

Or anything else, for that matter.

An integral part of drawing believable skies is getting the clouds right. Whether towering and majestic or thin and wispy, clouds add sparkle, color, and dimension to even the most basic landscape.

But apart from water, they can also be one of the most difficult and frustrating things to draw. They are ever changing, filled with light and shadow, and capable of going from bright to dark in a matter of moments.

In this drawing tutorial, we’ll look at a six-step process for drawing thunderhead clouds.

How To Draw Thunderhead Clouds

My tools are basic drawing paper, a collection of graphite drawing pencils ranging from 2H to 6B, a Pink Pearl eraser, a click eraser, a bristle brush, and a tortillion.

How to Draw Thunderhead Clouds

Step 1: Get ready to draw

Whenever possible, draw from life. Find a comfortable place to sit where you have a clear view of the sky. If the view is somewhat restricted by trees or buildings, that’s okay. It will focus your attention.

If you happen to be in Big Sky country (Montana or anywhere else), find a fixed point of reference like a building, river, telephone pole, or hill and draw that part of the sky.

Step 2: Sketch basic shapes

Sketch the “gesture” of the cloud or clouds by using short, quick lines. Don’t worry about getting every line exactly in the right place. The cloud will look different in a moment or two anyway, so concentrate on the “personality” of the cloud.

I use straight lines as shown here because they reduce the shapes to the most basic form. This is the foundation upon which the rest of the cloud will be drawn.

A 2H pencil holds a good point for a long time, so you can do a large sketch or several small ones quickly without having to stop and resharpen the pencil.

Drawing Mini Clinic - How to Draw Thunderhead Clouds, Demo 1, Part 1

Step 3: Soften the initial sketch

Work the straight edges into curved edges. Since the cloud will likely have changed, pay more attention to the overall “character” of the cloud than the details. Work out the flat, hard edges and embellish wherever necessary.

Continue using the 2H pencil to avoid getting lines too dark to quickly.

Drawing Mini Clinic - How to Draw Thunderhead Clouds, Demo 1, Part 2

Step 4: Add basic shadows

Shade the shadowed sides of the cloud beginning with the biggest shapes and working into the smaller shapes. Use a softer pencil. I switched my 2H for an F.

Use a 6B pencil to lay down diagonal strokes through most of the shadows. On the shaded side of the cloud, work over the edges within the cloud. On the sunny side, add accent shadows.

Use light pressure throughout and keep the strokes “open”.

Drawing Mini Clinic - How to Draw Thunderhead Clouds, Demo 1, Part 3

Step 5: Blend the shadows

Once all the shadows are shaded, blend each area. Work toward flat values. These are the base for further work.

I used a short, bristle brush and my fingers to smooth out the graphite and soften some of the edges between light and shadow. You can also use a tortillion or other blending tool.

The clouds at the bottom are not blended, so you can see the difference made by blending.

Drawing Mini Clinic - How to Draw Thunderhead Clouds, Demo 1, Part 4

Step 6: Darken the shadows

Continue to darken the shadows and develop the highlights and middle tones. Remember that even in the shadows, there is reflected light. If you’re working from life, take note of the brighter areas of reflected light and work around them.

The sky will not be the lightest value in a drawing of clouds, so shade a light value into the sky. You can use your fingers or a soft cloth to blend the entire drawing, pulling tone from the darks in the cloud into the sky, as I did with this drawing. Don’t forget the cast shadow from the cloud.

Once you’ve finished, use an eraser to lighten some shadows and create areas of reflected light. A click eraser is ideal for drawing lighter vlaues around the sunlit edges. The flat side of a Pink Pearl eraser is great within the body of the cloud to lighten some of the shadows.

Drawing Mini Clinic - How to Draw Thunderhead Clouds, Demo 1, Part 6

Conclusion

Push the detail as far as you wish. Even for a small study, taking the time to capture a full range of values will help you later, when you add clouds to a painting or drawing.

Oh, and have fun. Drawing clouds can be frustrating, but discovering how to capture the unique personality of each one is truly a satisfying feeling.