Painting mountain ranges

How to make mountain ranges using only two colors of paint - by mixing intermediate shades.

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Be sure your clouds are painted first. You will notice that clouds always extend beyond the horizon, so your most distant range should be painted right over the lower edge of your clouds.

Distant range: Start with a light green for the most distant range (1). Go around the entire backdrop and paint this range in completely. Mix in a little dark green until it just appears perceptibly darker and paint in the valley shadows (2), again, go around the entire backdrop and do this. The most distant range is done now.

Middle range: Mix in some more dark green and and paint the middle range all around the backdrop (3). It should go higher than the distant range - and obscure it - here and there. Darken some more and paint the valley shadows (4). The middle range is done.

Closest range: Darken some more and paint the closest range (5). This range should go higher than all previous ones here and there - see photo below. You could again add darker shadows, but I did not add shadows to the range shown above, since it would be covered with trees. The photo below shows another section which has some shadows in the closest range as well. Notice that all three ranges are not always visible - here the closest range hides the other two completely, and the most distant is just barely visible here and there.

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Trees: Continue adding dark green (if not dark enough, add black) and paint some trees in place!

Radio towers add interest. These were drawn on with Sharpies. Towers which are required to be striped and lighted must have exactly seven alternate red and white stripes, with red at the top and bottom. Nearby, shorter towers are generally not required to be striped or lit, since they are 'protected' by the taller tower (if an aircraft avoids the tall one, it will miss the shorter ones anyway). You could also experiment with lighting the towers with LEDs.

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Adding darker color is a one-way process - you can't make the mix lighter! If you are hesitant on your mixing ability - divide your light green paint into three separate containers first so if one gets too dark, you have a backup!

Any flat latex paint works well. This was done with leftover latex paint from our bathroom. This shows the two original shades which were mixed to paint this backdrop:

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Home • Revised May 14 2015