A Quick and Easy Way to Paint Rain in Watercolor

Make it Rain … in Watercolor

Pain Rain in Watercolor | Rainfall Effects | Vladimir Tuporshin | Artist Daily
Watercolor painting with rainfall effects by Vladimir Tuporshin

The initial idea of the watercolor painting above came to my mind when I was caught at the bus station waiting until a heavy rain was over. As I was sitting there, I took several photos on my phone.

In the compilation of the images below, you can see how different all the pictures turned out. The rainshower lasted for no longer than five to seven minutes, but the intensity seemed to change significantly in just a few seconds.  The surrounding light varied substantially as well.

Reference photos for watercolor painting of a rain storm.
Reference photos for watercolor painting of a rain storm by Vladimir Tuporshin

As the rain got stronger, the light would almost dim with almost red/brown hues, which you can see in the top right picture. When the rain stopped, white clouds appeared in the sky above the shiny, reflective surface of the ground. These pictures were taken later in the evening, around 7 p.m.

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From Reference Photos to Watercolor Painting

When I got back home I had a strong desire to incorporate the best elements from every photo I took into the painting along with other specific details imprinted in memory, including:

  • A flat pale sky typical during a heavy rain
  • Warm red and brown hues
  • Brown dirty flooding on the asphalt road
  • Bubbles on puddles caused by rain drops
  • Bright reflection in the middle part of the intersection
  • Figures jumping over puddles
  • A Fading background perspective

Looking at my photos I drew two graphite studies:

Two graphite preparatory sketches for a watercolor painting.
Two graphite preparatory sketches for a watercolor painting by Vladimir Tuporshin

After completing both studies, I decided to use the second on as my guide to correctly distribute whites and darks in the final watercolor painting.

When the painting was nearly complete and dry, I used a knife to scratch vertical dot lines into the paint on the surface; this process helps to create a stronger effect of raindrops.


Scratching the surface of a watercolor painting gives a sense of rainfall on the surface of the painting.
Scratching the surface of a watercolor painting gives a sense of rainfall on the surface of the painting

And there you have it, a quick and easy way to paint,  or really scratch in, rain when working with watercolor. Enjoy!



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Vladimir Tuporshin

About Vladimir Tuporshin

My name is Vladimir Tuporshin. I live in Moscow, Russia. I think drawing and watercolor painting is the best way of meditation that fills my life with sense and pleasure :)

19 thoughts on “A Quick and Easy Way to Paint Rain in Watercolor

  1. Paul, thank you for this comment!
    BTW: I have checked your website and immediately realized your concern about “strong contrast” :). Your paintings are actually built on this approach. They catch the eye by a very wide value diapason, up to 100% if measured in per cents like you did. I will definitely try this method in future works.

  2. Paul,
    The comments and suggestions you give are just great. Being “blunt” and objective you help me to understand pros and cons of my work. So I really appreciate it!
    You recommend to explore a value balance more thoroughly before painting. I agree with this and must confess I’m too lazy sometimes to do it, or hurry to much to start the painting :). In my sketches above I actually tried to “play” with values a little bit, e.g. in the upper one the sky is darker and I did NOT like it, on the lower sketch the road takes more space and is lighter, and I DID like it, and incorporated this into my final painting.
    But generally you are right – one should spend more time for value studies.
    Thanks again!

  3. I immediately fell in love with this painting! The way you painted the rain is so real that I sensed the smell of a fresh rain. You created a wonderful “rainy day” mood that I love. Your colors are expert as they enhance the over-all effect exactly like I would be looking out the window pondering the lovely rainy day! This is a professional work done exactly as it was meant to relay! I enjoy it very much!!

  4. I am rating this item five star because it relays a perfect rainy day mood! This painting has an energy in it that brings the viewer there!
    You are a very professional artist and I would love to see more of your work!

  5. Thank you for your tips on painting a rainy weather…. i’ve been trying to create this effect since many days without success… i’ve finally found some techniques… so, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!

  6. Vova:
    Great post and thanks for the ideas on painting water with water! I loved the sketches and the way you made the scene look wet. You haven’t said where the scene is, but I would put money on the scene being San Marco Square on the Southside of Jacksonville FL…… The painting took me right there.

  7. Bob, the place is in Russia! Not far from Moscow, in a small city where my mother lives and where I visit frequently.
    Thank you very much for comments!

  8. Vova, You know how much I admire your work and I want to thank you for showingus how you get through your process. I will try the scratching for raindrops myself.

  9. I was excited to see your lovely painting of rain, especially as I am basically a watercolor artist but am taking an oil painting class with Rod Weagant at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival and we painted on a rainy day – but not such heavy rain as you had. And your painting reminded me of where I grew up in England.

  10. Vova, I love the free flow impressionist feel of your work. It captures the scene very well – your other watercolour sketches too. Where is your the rest of your work?

  11. It goes without saying you have absolutly captured the “spirit” of this moment in time. Photos can not replicate or do justice to the “zeitgeist” represented by this beautiful painting! Well done!