Rainbows are a meteorological, or weather, phenomenon. When white light from the sun is bent, or refracted, by droplets of water, a rainbow appears. Rainbows always appear on the opposite side of the sky from the sun.
Did you know? The color bands of the rainbow always appear in a specific order. An easy way to remember the order is the acronym ROY G. BIV. Each letter in this fictional “name” stands for the first letter of a color: Red, Orange, Green, Blue, Indigo (a very dark shade of blue), and violet (a dark purple). In nature, the red is always on the top and the purple is on the bottom in a primary rainbow. This is due to the fact that blue and purple light bend more than red light when filtered through the raindrops. In the case of a double rainbow, the colors in the secondary arch are reversed.
Rainbows have featured in art and culture for millennia. One of the earliest recorded mentions of a rainbow is found in the Bible book of Genesis. In this account, the rainbow symbolized God’s promise to never again bring a global flood to the earth. The Greek scholar Aristotle and other ancient philosophers theorized possible causes for rainbows. In Ireland, leprechauns were said to hide their pots of gold at the end of a rainbow. Since rainbows appear to “move” when approached, the gold could never be discovered by people.
Rainbows feature prominently in religious art, and artists interested in painting the effects of light often include rainbows in their work. Certain family crests in Europe contained rainbows, and in Italy a rainbow flag was once used as a symbol of peace. Rainbows have featured in songs and poetry as well, such as in the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” from the film The Wizard of Oz (1933).
Would you like to draw your very own rainbow? Now you can, with the help of this easy, step-by-step drawing tutorial. All you will need is a pencil and a piece of paper. Since rainbows are very colorful, you will also likely wish to use crayons, colored pencils, paints, or markers to shade your finished drawing.
In each step, notice the highlighted blue lines in the illustration. These represent new lines to be added to your drawing. Explanatory text accompanies each illustration.
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1. Draw fluffy clouds at the base of your rainbow. Do so using short, curved, overlapping lines.
2. Draw additional clouds on the opposite side, again using short, curved lines.
3. Outline the upper portion of the rainbow. Draw a long, curved line from one set of clouds to the other.
4. Draw another curved line beneath the first. This line will be slightly smaller and parallel to the first line. This outlines the rainbow’s uppermost band of color.
5. Draw a third curved line, creating the second band of color.
6. Draw a fourth curved line, creating the third band of color.
7. Draw two more curved lines, enclosing two more bands of color.
8. Draw two additional curved lines, one above and one below the rainbow. You now have enough bands to color your rainbow accurately, with the colors of ROY G. BIV.
9. Add texture and depth to your picture by drawing additional clouds. Use series of long and short curved lines.
10. Color your rainbow. Will you color your rainbow according to nature, or will you make it all pink? All blue? Will your clouds be fluffy and white or dark and foreboding? Be creative, because the choice is yours.
Your printable PDF drawing guide is ready for downloading:
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