Readers ask: How To Draw The Northern Lights Step By Step?

How To Paint Northern Lights

This step-by-step acrylic painting tutorial will show you how to paint the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. There are some advanced ways to paint the bright lights, but I’ve chosen a much simpler method that only requires an angle brush double-dipped in white and your chosen light color.

Similar Paintings With Tree Skylines:

How To Paint An American Flag Sky. How To Paint A Hot Air Balloon Sunset.


Estimate about 1/7th of the canvas up if you’re working with a smaller canvas.

2. Use a 3/4″ flat and the two colors Titanium White & Medium Magenta to paint a pink glow above the horizon line. 

The goal of this sky is to create a fade from light pink to dark blues, then black; don’t let this painting dry yet because you’ll be blending the magenta into cerulean blue in the next step! Note: the medium magenta got slightly darker as I went up, implying that there was less white and more pure medium Magenta.

3. Blend Cerulean Blue into the sky

It may appear difficult at first, but take your time and don’t overfill your brush with paint; we’ll be blending cobalt blue and green on top of each other in the next step.

4. Blend Cobalt Blue into the sky as you work your way up

After you’ve added the black, there should still be a nice gap in the sky for the mars black, and don’t forget to rinse your brush.

5. Blend the rest of the sky at the top with mars black. 

Begin with a small amount of black and gradually increase the amount of black and decrease the amount of cobalt blue as you progress up the canvas.

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7. Flicker stars on the canvas with a toothbrush and titanium white. 

To do this, I dipped an old toothbrush in water, patted it dry, and then dipped it in titanium white. The paint should be ink consistency so it splatters. If it’s too wet, it’ll drip, but if it’s too thick, it won’t.

8. Wait for this sky to dry!

This is an important step: in order to paint the auora borealis effect, the surface of this sky must be nice and dry! Take a break and come back to your painting when it is dry, or go to number 9 and practice the Northern Light Technique on paper if you aren’t ready to take a break.

9. Practice the Northern Light Technique on a separate paper. 

I think practicing this technique is important to understand the concept and feel confident about what you’re doing with the angle brush before applying it to the canvas; it’s super simple once you get the hang of it! I grabbed my sketchbook and my 1/4u2032u2032 angle brush, as well as the colors bright aqua green and titanium white.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll refer to this part of the auora as the “string,” and the part that flares up vertically as the “flair.” To do the “flairs,” use the 1/4″ angle brush double-dipped in bright aqua green and titanium white, and paint vertical lines starting from the “string” and fading away as it goes up.

10. Apply the Northern Lights to your actual painting

I have one medium magenta auora in the middle of my painting. Load your 1/4u2032u2032 flat brush with medium magenta and titanium white. Begin at the bottom, close to the horizon line, and paint a long wave stroke to the top. This was all done in one stroke, and yes, my paint did run dry as I got to the top. Then paint your vertical flairs. Remember, all of these lines MUST be vertical.

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11. Release the painters tape and fill the bottom land with mars black. 

While it is possible to paint a completely flat landscape, I chose to make mine look bumpier and more natural by slightly raising the left and right sides and adding dips and grooves to the rest of the line.

12. Paint the trees with a fan brush. 

If you want to add a wolf or other animal silhouette in the middle, leave a space. Refer to this tutorial for how to paint trees with a fan brush. Use your 10/0 liner to paint the middle line of the tree trunk. Then use your fan brush to paint the branches. It helps to water the black down slightly to an “ink consistency” when doing trees, that way your black will flow better.


Once you’ve mastered painting aurora borealis, they’ll be a stunning addition to any of your night sky paintings! Please sign your name, display it proudly, and don’t forget to share it with your friends, family, and on social media.

Can you create aurora borealis?

The Aurora Borealis has been brought into a lab at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where scientists have harnessed the tools needed to stage Earth’s most colorful light show. u201cIt recreates the atmosphere of the Earth at 80 km in altitude when an aurora is occurring.

What are the Northern light?

The northern lights, which are one of several astronomical phenomena known as polar lights (aurora polaris), are shafts or curtains of colored light visible in the night sky on rare occasions. Northern lights are also known by their scientific name, aurora borealis, and southern lights are known by their scientific name, aurora australis.

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