How to Paint Ocean Sunset

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as...Read more

I have been doing a lot of beautiful sunset paintings since my childhood. An ocean or beach sunset drawing is my favorite painting task. Otherwise, who doesn’t love a stunning ocean sunset? Let’s learn how to paint ocean sunset from scratch now.

Painting an ocean sunset isn’t all that challenging either. It is super easy than mountain and desert sunsets. Pay extra attention to the sky color, water reflection, and serenity of the scenery to get proper color blends and shades.

Things You Will Need Before Paint Ocean Sunset

Creating an ocean sunset illusion can be a daunting and intimidating experience among beginners. The task has never been made to look easy from the beginning.

It took me two hours of painting to highlight shades and colors in my first drawing to see the sun setting over the ocean in Hawaii. My first painting was simple despite lacking depth.

Things You Will Need Before Paint Ocean Sunset

The golden rule is to understand the color blending techniques to make a simple ocean sunset painting look nice. Below are essential things you will need before painting an ocean sunset:

1. Basic Supplies

These are essential tools and materials that make painting ocean sunset look easy. These instruments trigger the creator’s mind to represent what they are seeing.

The basic supplies to bring on board are acrylic paint, canvas, paint brushes, chalk, ruler, and water jar. I recommend using a 5 by 7 inches canvas profile to fit the ocean sunset painting.

2. Color Palette

The choice of painting colors will depend on your reference scenery. Do not freak if your drawing is not perfectly accurate. Art is all about representing what you are seeing.

My favorite colors are primary red, prism violet, medium magenta, cadmium yellow light hue, titanium white, light blue permanent, and cadmium orange hue.

These color palettes will make your ocean sunset painting look simple but beautiful. Take the time to experiment with several colors to find your taste and preference.

3. Painting Brush Sizes

Coloring an ocean sunset drawing isn’t that all difficult either. But use paintbrushes that produce elegant results in the long run. Overlapping color shades need to be clean and eye-catching.

I recommend using a fan brush, a small fine detail sable brush, a medium flat bristle brush, and a Purdy house painter’s brush. You can also use different sizes of square-headed brushes.

How to Paint Ocean Sunset (Step-by-Step)

Many artists prefer to create an ocean sunset with acrylic paints. The neon colors and a few techniques combination will make your sun setting over the ocean look beautiful. Below are quick steps on how to paint ocean sunset from scratch:

How to Paint Ocean Sunset

Step 1: Decide an area to establish the horizon line and sunset on the canvas. I recommend going towards the bottom about 1/3 inches of the canvas.

Avoid drawing the horizon line at the center since it will make your painting too symmetrical and boring. Use a pencil and a rule to draw a light mark horizon line.

Draw the sun at the horizon line center using a circle template. Ensure the sun forms a perfect fit to the canvas size (it should not be too big or small).

Step 2: Mix red, white, and yellow paints to create an orange color for the sky. Use the medium flat brush to coat the sky area orange.

Remember to tilt the brush when coating close to the horizon line and sun edges. Tilting the brush helps with more precision. Allow the sky area to dry before moving to the next step.

Step 3: Dip the medium flat brush with orange paint in water for lightning purposes. Use the light orange color to coat the center of the sun with horizontal brush strokes.

Coat the sun along the top edges with white paint. Make sure the white color blends well with the sky orange coat. It will help bring a clear distinction between the sky and the sun.

Step 4: Mix white and a little bit of blue paint to create the ocean blue coat. The blue ocean color creates an excellent contrast with the orange sky.

Use another medium flat brush to fill the ocean section with a blue layer coating. Remember to leave a small area under the sun blank to help create a perfect reflection.

Ensure the blue ocean layer coatings are even. Allow the ocean coating to dry before moving to the next step. It will help avoid making mistakes as we continue.

Step 5: Wash all the brushes involved in the above steps. Recoat the sky with a darker shade of orange along the top region to create an eye-catching contrast.

Dip the same brush in water to lighten the color and coat the region over the sun. Dip the brush in pure white paint and highlight the sun’s edges again.

Step 6: Put a second coat on the ocean section. I recommend using a slightly dark blue color than the previous one in the ocean area.

Use horizontal strokes to allow the brush to add unevenness to the coat. The ocean in Hawaii is never calm and smooth. So, I aim to capture the ocean movement.

Dip another clean brush in white paint and add light streaks into the ocean using horizontal criss-cross strokes. The highlights help create a memorable sunset reflection over the water.

Step 7: Use another clean medium flat bristle brush to coat the blank space under the sun with white color. Consider horizontal strokes to blend the white color with the blue ocean. Allow it to dry.

Step 8: Use a medium flat brush to recoat the sky and ocean for the third time. It helps eliminate the white specks from the canvas from showing through the coatings.

Mix some yellow and white paint on the palette with a tiny red amount on the brush. Put horizontal streaks in the sky over the sun section.

The white streaks represent distant clouds and also lighten the sky. Remember to recoat the sun with a mixture of white and a little bit of yellow around the edges.

Add a few highlights in the sun’s reflection along the blue ocean. Allow the painting to dry before moving to the final step.

Step 9: Use a fan brush to put some horizontal highlights using light orange color underneath the sun along the ocean. The orange represents the sun and sky shimmering in the ocean.

Use another fan brush to put some white highlights on the sun and region near the water.  Switch to a small fine sable brush with dark blue paint to draw seagulls flying in the sky at a distance.

Be sure to vary the seagull’s size and placement to create something interesting. Avoid even numbers and symmetrical placement of seagulls.


Learning how to paint ocean sunset from scratch is a process for beginners. Do not scold yourself after coming out with something not interesting. That’s all about art and painting.

I hope this lesson will help you perfect your painting skills. Kindly feel free to share the information with your friends or family on your social platforms.

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Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Hi, I’m Randy Charles, the creator and chief editor of this site Paintcentric. I’m a businessman now by profession, but I used to work as a painter earlier in my professional career. There is simply nothing about painting that I didn’t do as a painter. From painting a fridge to a multi-storied building, I left nothing. I retired from my painting job in the mid of 2018 due to back arthritis problems.

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