April Showers: How to Paint Rain, Puddles and Splashes

April showers may keep you indoors, but it makes the perfect time to learn how to capture the lovely effects in your art that these spring showers bring and leave behind — driving rain and pooling puddles inviting you to come splash in them!

Learn how to paint rain, puddles and splashes with this tutorial!

how to paint rain


Part 1. Making it rain

There are many ways to create the illusion of rain in your artwork. It can be be done simply with pen and ink lines or making them more defined with a lighter color than the background.

When you are considering the look you want for your finished piece, it is the time to start thinking how much of a part rain will play in it.

Starting with a very simple rain effect, I have drawn my rain in lines on a slant to make it a bit more interesting. The lines are uneven in length and some are broken into several lines in order to create the feel of movement. It also makes the rain look shiny and slick.

Teddy bear in the rain

Using ink, you can leave the rain without any background color…..

Teddy bear with red boots

Or you can add background color…..

Teddy bear in rainstorm

You can strengthen your rain effect by following the rain streaks with some white gouache.

Teddy bear in storm

Part 2. Puddles

Drawing a puddle from this angle, I have shaped it in an uneven crescent to give it the proper perspective.

To make the bears boots to look like they are in the puddle, I have kept the lines uneven around the bottoms of the boots where they meet the water and will keep ink detail off this area.

A couple of water ring lines add movement to the water. Some grass poking up naturalizes the puddle.

Teddy bear finds a puddle

Give your puddle a light blue-gray wash. If you are painting sky, paint the puddle in the same hue, just lighter.

Bear in puddle

Follow along the water rings with a deeper shade of the puddle color. The do this again with a thin line of white gouache.

Remember not to add ink detail where the boots meet the water to keep the soft effect of being a little submerged.

I have added a little of the bear’s shadow under him to make it more interesting.

Teddy bear in a rain puddlePart 3. Make some splashes!

Think of splashes as a series of curved lines spreading out from the center of the impact.

Form the loose splashes like sideways elongated teardrops.

Add a few distressed or uneven water rings spreading out from the impact and right on the puddle.

Teddy bear splashing

It is a good idea to mask off most of these splashes before you add color. If you do not, you can still use gouache after to bring out details.

Teddy bear splashing a rain puddle

Add a light blue-gray wash or a color similar to the sky color you are applying.

Shadow along the water rings and under the curves of the splash to give it loft.

Teddy bear having fun in a puddleRemove your masking medium and touch up or enhance the splashes using some white gouache. You can even add some more splash marks as needed.

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