How To Paint a Desert: An Easy Tutorial For Beginners

Today we will be teaching you how to paint a desert scenery, so on to our next tutorial! Don’t worry, cause this is good for beginner painters just like you! Our easy-to-follow guides will help you throughout the process of painting your very own desert, so make sure to read through them!

Step 1: Get your materials!

If you were following our how-to guides, by now you know that the first step to everything is to always make sure you’ve prepared your materials so that you won’t come into any problems while you’re painting! So let’s go to the art store and grab the things you will need for your desert:

  • Acrylic Paint in the colours; Titanium White, Black, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Hooker's Green Hue Permanent, Phthalo Blue, Quinacridone Magenta, and Burnt Umber.
  • Paint Brushes (various sizes)
  • Canvas (any size)
  • Pencil or Chalk
  • Toothbrush
  • Cup with water
  • Paper towels
  • Palette or paper plate 
  • 2.5" Circle To Trace
  • T-Square Ruler

Step 2: Create some outlines!

Position your canvas vertically before you start. Then in the middle, draw a horizontal line across your canvas. This will be a partition of the sky and the sandy desert! You can always do it later, but you can now also draw the lines of your mountains at this stage so you have time to adjust the size of your desert. 

Step 3: Start painting your base layers!

Take some Phthalo Blue and Titanium white and put some on your palette. With a flat brush, dip onto the phthalo blue and start painting on the top part of your canvas where your sky will be. Create a dark to light or “ombre” effect by mixing some white with the blue and adding this in the middle of your sky area, when nearing the horizon, add more white gradually and blend the colours so it will look seamless. 

Paint the ground for the next base layer, Use the same technique that you used for the sky but use burnt umber and white. Make sure you rinse your brush first! 

Let your base layer dry. You may even use a hand drier to fasten the process!

Once it drys, you can then paint on some stars using a toothbrush. This is called the splatter technique, you dip your toothbrush into some white paint, and with your finger or a brush handle, run it through the bristles over the sky area! This will create a beautiful star-filled sky. 

Step 4: Create mountain ranges and a moon!

To create a greyish brown colour, mix some white, black, and brown, for the first layer add more white then gradually add brown and black for the next layers. Paint the mountain ranges and imagine them being far away. Paint your next layers of mountain ranges. 

Now take your circular object and trace it at the back of the mountains. Use white with a little bit of blue to paint on your moon, focus some white around the top of the moon so it looks more highlighted!

Step 5: Paint some cactuses! 

Place a bit hookers green on your palette and some white. Mix some white into the green to create a lighter shade of green, using a round brush paint the outline of your first up-close cactus to create an illusion of perspective, you may look up what Saguaro Cactuses look like for reference! Add more cactuses like a prickly pear cactus, and some more saguaro cactus but farther away! Add as much as you like and create different shades of green so they’re all different! To create more realistic textures, add flowers and dots of white on some cactuses. You may even add some succulents and rocks in some areas!  

And you’re done! We hope you had heaps of fun! If you want to see more easy and fun tutorials for beginner painters like yourself, you should check out our other How to’s on our page!