How To Paint Snowman Starry Night

How To Paint Snowman Starry Night

There’s a picture book that I’ve always been fond of because of the beautiful and whimsical illustrations of snowmen doing fun things at night like drinking hot cocoa and having snowball fights!

I used this book as a reference to teach my elementary students how to do “shading” on their snowmen drawings and paintings.

The book is titled Snowmen at Night written by Caralyn Buehner and illustrated by Mark Buehner.

When I was inspired to do a Snowman Starry Night tutorial, I could not help but think of this delightful book!

So, in this tutorial you will be guided through the steps in setting up this simple snow landscape painting.

I think that painting snow and snowmen are easy but we get caught up in how to give light and shadow to something that is supposed to be all white!

I hope that I make it easy for you to learn. Also, if you have kids, they would LOVE to learn how to do this with you as well. Enjoy!



This Post Contains Affiliate Links From

  • Acrylic Paints For this painting I used these paints. Craft paints are always okay to use! The other brand I recommend is the Liquitex Basics brand. It’s a studio/student grade paint and it dries in a nice satin sheen. If you’re doing this in the elementary classroom, tempera paints or “tempera cakes” should be fine too! You can even try this with water colors and have the starry night swirls and moon be oil pastels to create a resist! 
  • Colors (Listed in Apple Barrel & Liquitex Terms):
    • Flag Red (Cadmium Red)
    • Jack O’ Lantern (Cadmium Orange)
    • Bright Yellow (Cadmium Yellow or Yellow Medium)
    • Bright Blue (Cobalt Blue)
    • Too Blue (Prussion Blue)
    • Navy Blue (Any shade of dark blue)
    • White (Titanium White)
    • Black (Mars Black)
    • Nutmeg Brown (Raw Sienna or Raw Umber)
  • Paint brushes of various sizes:
    • 2″ Flat
    • Small Round
    • 1/4″ Flat or 3/4″ Flat
  • Canvas (I used a 16″ x 20″ stretched canvas but you can use any size or any object to paint on – rock, wooden board, paper, wall, window…. Water color paper would work too!)
  • Water, Easel & Protected Workspace

Directions At A Glance:



Step By Step Picture Directions:

1. Paint The Horizon Line

With the canvas in “landscape” position, I painted the horizon line using a tiny brush and the color “bright blue”. Again, I’m using this brand of paint. The horizon line is about 5″ from the bottom of the canvas.



2. Paint A Wash in the Sky

Then, with a base coat brush (large flat brush), I applied water to the canvas. I wanted my sky to be kind of watered down/ translucent. I painted in up and down strokes.

Tip: when adding water & paint to the canvas like this, lay it flat to prevent the water & paint from dripping. If it does drip below the horizon line, don’t panic! We will be painting all that over later.


Then I applied the “bright blue” color paint with the same up & down strokes. The paint will spread fast and kind of thin because of the water.


You can allow the paint to go below that horizon line a little because it will be painted over white on the bottom!


3. Paint Some Circles In The Sky

Next I got my pure white paint and a small flat brush. Ideally, you should wait until that blue dries a bit but I didn’t wait! Paint a large circle in the upper right (or upper left you’d like) for the moon. Then paint some smaller circles in some random areas around the sky. These are the bases of the stars. Also note, I started from the CENTER of the circle and painted out!


4. Paint Dash Lines

Then I painted some “dash” lines right on the horizon line.


And I painted about four rows of those dashed lines. (mind the shadow of my plate palette in this picture!) These dashes really don’t have to be uniform/neat.


5. Paint A Big Swirl Line

Then I painted a large spiral line with my brush. If you want to do this with chalk first, you may! Chalk will erase… This spiral is the main spiral in the sky so make it BIG!


Next I painted dashed lines on the spiral.


6. Paint A Moon & Stars

With bright yellow paint, I painted a moon on that larger circle and I painted small star circles in the other white circles.

7. Paint More Dash Lines

yellow dash lines

Then I painted yellow dash lines around each star, on the horizon line, on the spiral and around the moon!

more yellow dash lines


8. Paint Orange Moon & Stars

orange on moon

Next I got “Jack O’ Lantern” orange and painted over the moon. I also painted a smaller circle in each of the stars.

orange on stars


9. Paint Orange Dashes

orange dashes on horizon line
more orange dashes on moon, stars & spiral

And with that orange, I painted more dash lines on the horizon line, around the moon, around the stars and on that spiral! Note, with these dash lines, some I painted over previously painted dashes, some I made their own row. It’s really up to you! The trick with starry night is to just keep painting layers of the colors with the impressionism “dashed stroke” style.


10. Paint Blue Dashes

blue dashes
more blue dashes

Finally, I painted another set of dash lines with the same “bright” blue. It will show up on the background because this one is not watered down like the background was. If yours is not showing up, you can just find a darker blue to use.

more blue dashes going in random directions

I added some spirals going in their own directions.


11. Paint The Snow

blue line on bottom

Next I painted the snow. Load your palette with bright blue and white. Paint a small bright blue line on the bottom of the painting. I used a medium flat brush (3/4″).

load brush with white (not yellow!)

Then I dipped my brush in white (don’t clean the blue off). I painted from the bottom to the horizon. That white faded from blue to white.


fade the bottom blue to white up to the horizon line

bottom of painting is blue and it fades up to white


12. Paint The Trees


Next I painted trees. This color is Navy Blue.  I used a 1/4″ flat brush for this. First paint a vertical line.

\Then paint the branches forming a triangular shaped tree.



Paint a few more trees of varying sizes.


13. Paint The Tree Shadows & Highlights

To paint the shadows, I used watered down navy blue paint and did some “zigzag” lines  on the snow.

watered down navy blue for shadows


Then with a tiny brush, I painted some white lines on the trees.


14. Paint The Snowman

Next I painted the snowman! Start out with pure white not mixed with anything! Paint each of the circles. It “should” show up because there should be enough blue in that snow to see each circle.



15. Paint The Snowman Shadow

To do the shadow, I started with painting a line on the left side of each circle. I used the color “too blue”. This is a lighter version of navy blue.  If you don’t have that color, a navy blue or dark blue would work.



Then I blended that blue in with the white the same way I did the snow (load your brush with white after painting the blue). Try to make your strokes go in a circle to form the sphere illusion.


Keep blending that blue out until it turns to white. Also, emphasize some dark on the bottom of each circle.



The shadow of the snowman was painted with watered down navy blue (the same color as the trees).



17. Paint The Snowman Face & Accessories 

Finally the easy part! I painted the coal with black using a tiny detail brush. No shading involved with this step!



I painted the carrot nose.


The stick arms were painted with nutmeg brown. Also I did the dark area of the carrot with this same brown (totally optional!).



The hat was painted with white and flag red.


The scarf  was also painted red. Of course you can customize any of this and do your own style and colors!


And, since I’m secretly obsessed with “buffalo check” pattern, I HAD to do his scarf in buffalo check! This was done simply by painting vertical and horizontal black lines.


Finished! Sign your name on your masterpiece and share it on Pinterest or Facebook!


Sharing Is Caring!

Subscribe To Step By Step Painting! 


See Also:


Amazon Picks:

7 Replies to “How To Paint Snowman Starry Night”

    1. Depending on how heavy the construction paper is, it should be able to handle the pre-wash water first! I’ve done water color lessons on construction paper and white drawing paper and it’s usually fine with all that water! So yes, try the water first method and if it doesn’t work you can always just give the kids a watered down blue to paint the sky with. Hope this helps!

  1. Hi Everyone! I’m having some “comment glitches” on this post. If you have any questions or comments about Snowman Starry Night, feel free to contact me on the SBSP Facebook page or on the contact form~ Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *