Cityscape Fireworks

How To Paint A Cityscape with Fireworks

things to do on new years eve


Learn how to paint this Cityscape Fireworks painting! Full step by step instructions including a video are in this tutorial!

I don’t know about you but I have a certain fondness to cityscape art. The lights, the reflections and the glow in the night sky are just soooo pretty! Not to mention, the concept of painting this type of painting is very easy and has a 100% success rate even for the absolute beginner.

In this tutorial, you will be guided step by step with photos and a video. The city is generic but you can customize it with your favorite skyline. Just do a quick google search for different city silhouettes. A few of you have already sent me a picture of your city line with the Space Needle!

But beware, this painting is so much fun you might find yourself doing it more than once, even beyond New Years Eve Day!

Enjoy, happy painting and don’t forget to share!


things to do on new years eve

Tip For Doing this With Kids:

If you’re doing this as an Elementary lesson with students or at home with kids, you can simplify it!

I would do the sky in all magenta with a little black on the top and the water all blue.

Use a straight edge piece of paper or cardboard to help define the area/layer the child is painting on and then pull the piece down as the child paints towards the bottom! -Thanks to one of my users for that tip!

Also, you can try this design as a water color resist lesson. in other words, have the kids draw the fireworks with oil pastels first then go over the pastels with water colors.  


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  • 16″ x 20″ canvas (This design can work on any rectangular size, wood, rock, water color paper, etc.
  • Acrylic Paint (I used Liquitex Basics & Artist’s Loft for this! If you’re using craft paint, this can work too. I’ll list colors in both terms below)
  • Paint colors:
    • Cadmium Red (Red)
    • Cadmium Yellow (Bright Yellow)
    • Primary Blue (Blue)
    • Quinacridone Magenta (Magenta or Fuchsia)
    • Violet (Deep Purple)
    • Mars Black (Black)
    • Titanium White (White
  • Various Size Brushes:
    • 1″ flat
    • 1/4″ flat
    • Tiny (#1 brush
  • Ruler
  • Chalk
  • Pencil

Video Directions:

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Draw The Horizon Line

Draw the horizon line about 5.75″ from the bottom. Using a T-Square ruler is helpful to make sure your line is perpendicular! If you don’t have a ruler, any straight edge will work.

If your canvas is a different size, adjust the horizon line accordingly. Mine was approximately 1/3 of the way up from the bottom and not directly in the middle.

Paint The Sky

Paint mars black about 1″ down and curved. The whole sky will be slightly curved but try not to curve it too much! I used a 1″ flat brush for this. Any size flat brush will work for this effect.



Do not rinse off brush. Paint about 3-4″ of violet next. Try to blend the violet with the black. Yes, I had issues mixing my black with the violet too! Just keep working the paint and getting that Violet to mesh well with the black. You can paint the violet over the black if you need to but try not to let that black “take over”.



I painted 3-4″ of Violet here! Again, keep working it in with the black to get it to blend.




This time, rinse your brush! Paint the magenta almost all the way down to the horizon line. Try to get your magenta to blend with the Violet by painting over the Violet a bit!




The magenta has been painted all the way down! Also note, my sky is still going in an “arc”.




Do not rinse brush. Add white the rest of the way down. Blend white with magenta. It will turn into a nice pink hue.



Draw Your Skyline With Chalk

Use chalk to draw buildings. If you want a more “sharper look”, use a ruler and a pencil. Also here is where you can customize the city you want to paint!


Paint Your Skyline Silhouette Black


Paint buildings in with mars black. I used a small flat brush and a tiny brush for small corners. You don’t have to “cut in” like I did. You can just paint each building one at a time.



Tip: water down the black a bit for it to flow easier!


Paint The Building Details

Use a tiny brush for radio towers and other fine building details.


Paint The Water

Paint the water next! Start with the same brush you used for the sky. Paint Quin Magenta about 1″.

Next paint violet and blend with the magenta. I did rinse my brush between color changes. Also notice the water is curving the opposite way of the sky.


Next paint violet and blend with the magenta. I did rinse my brush between color changes. Also notice the water is curving the opposite way of the sky.



Rinse brush. Next add primary blue. I did not realize the blue would take over that violet! If you want more violet with your water, try not to blend it so much. I went down almost all the way with the blue.



Leave a spot open on the bottom for black.



Don’t rinse brush. Paint the rest black and blend the black up into the blue. I also added some more violet to the water where it got lost in the blue.


Paint The Windows

Paint the windows using a tiny brush and white/yellow. Not all the windows have lights on.


Splatter Paint Stars

Flick stars in the sky with any brush and watered down white.


Paint The Fireworks

Use a small flat brush for the fireworks. “Double load” the brush with blue and white. Double loading means to dip one edge of the brush in one color and the other in the next!



This is where the video will come in handy! Paint each firework with white plus the color. I used the tip of a flt brush to get the effect.




fireworks new years eveDouble load with yellow and white for a yellow firework. Basically keep painting as many fireworks as you want! Try out different styles of fireworks too.



Optional: I felt that some of the fireworks should have these tiny white dots. Use a tiny brush and pure white for this. Also, you’ll see in the video that I brightened the center of the fireworks by adding a bit more white.



Paint The Reflection

new years eve party ideasFor the reflection of the buildings I used a 1/4″ flat brush and some watered down black. The strokes are just small condensed zig-zag lines forming a vertical shape. LIGHTLY hold that brush and move your hand fast to do this!



The reflection of the light is a tiny brush double loaded with yellow and white. The line is a vertical, very fluid squiggle line. Again, hold the brush lightly and move the hand fast.



I think the painting looks great without the 2018! You can stop here if you want or continue and add the number in the water…


Optional: Paint The “2018” 

Draw out the 2018 with chalk. I used a ruler to help my numbers line up straight.


Use a tiny brush and white to paint horizontal strokes in the water. I tried to make it look like the 2018 is reflected in the water.






Paint Some Firework Reflections

Finally I painted some firework refection in the water. To do this I used a tiny brush double loaded in the color and white. Make a very fluid zig zag line.


Finished! things to do on new years eveSign your masterpiece and show it off! There’s a collection of paintings over on Pinterest right now! Just click on the pin, scroll down and see the “I Tried It” section.

Sharing Is Caring!

Let’s see your art! Share it on the Facebook Page or on Pinterest!

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See Also:

canvas painting for beginners step by step
Snowman Starry Night


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