In this beginner watercolor painting tutorial, we will show you how to paint three different watercolor birds. Thank you, Emma, for this amazing step-by-step guide.
Watercolor supplies used in this tutorial:
- Watercolor Paints by Winsor & Newton Cotman
- Brushes in size 6 by Princeton Snap
- Bee Watercolour Paper
- 1 Glass of clean water
- Paper Towel
It’s really not a problem if you don’t have exactly the same supplies 🙂
Step 1: Sketch the Three Birds
We’re going to start with a circle for the head. Do not sketch too dark as you want to be able to erase it after. Then, sketch a larger oval for the body and add a little triangle for the beck.
Then, go over your lines to connect the head to the body of the bird. Sketch out the feet and add a tail with some long curved shapes.
Now, erase the first two circles that you drown and there you go, you have the shape of your first bird. Pretty simple right?
I draw two other birds facing in different directions by following the same steps. I definitely suggest you look at some reference photos.
Step 2: Watercolor the First Bird, a Robin
Let’s start with our first bird, a Robin. I start off by taking my burnt amber brown and I apply it around the head and the eye.Then, I drop a bit more brown on the back of the bird.
I take some Payne’s gray, and paint along the bottom of the bird. Then I wash off my brush, dry it a bit and drag up the color to make it lighter on the belly.
I use the same gray on the tail. I put a first light layer and then, add some darker lines on top of it.
I make an earthy Orange by mixing some yellow ochre with the brown I used previously. I paint carefully around the eye and the beck and bring it down to the belly. I leave some white space in between the light gray and the orange.
Then I add a bit of yellow and red and use the tip of my brush to make some feathers. I also get some brown and darken it up.
As my first layer of brown is already dry, I go over it with the brown to blend it better with the orange.
Then create more texture on the tail and underneath.
I do the feet with some paint gray and black.
When It is fully dry, I put some lighter brown on the tip of my brush to make some feathery shapes especially on the brown part.
I use a smaller brush and black paint to darken the beak and the eye. I leave a little white dot on the eye for the eye reflection.
I finish by using some cadmium red and a bit of the yellow ochre to brighten up the chest.
Don’t hesitate to add some texture if you feel that you need some. I think our little Robins look pretty good 🙂
Step 3: Watercolor the Second Bird
This little guy is gonna be white and back.I start off with our lightest shade which will be the gray because no birds are fully white, you always need a light tint of something.
I take a bit of gray and I do the belly. I wash off my brush and drag it out on all the parts that I want white
Then, I add a bit more of the paint gray on the under part and cheek. I create a bit of shadow where the wing is gonna be.
I go a bit darker with Payne’s gray to add some texture to the wing. To do so, I add some long circular shapes and I blend these out.
I add a bit of texture using the tip of my brush on top of my first layer of gray.
Then I do the same thing for the tail.
Now, I do the black parts of the bird. I don’t really want it to blend into the white so wait a bit for it to dry.
I do the shape of the head first and go around the eye. I try to make some feathery lines with the tip of my brush. I use a light wash of the black for the beck.
I use the same black to add a bit more darkness on the wings and I do the feet.
Then I add some subtle little dots on the chest to give it a bit more texture.
Wait for it to fully dry. Then, with a really light Payne’s gray wash, I do little flicking shapes on the white part of the head.
Now let’s move on to our last bird, a Cardinal.
Step 4: Watercoloring the Second Bird, a Cardinal
I start with a cadmium red and I go over the whole bird except where the black face is. I use a cadmium red because I will darken it up with some cadmium red deep after.
I use the tip of my brush to get the outline of the mohawk.
Then, I add some cadmium red deep around the chest and the wing to get two different tones of red.
I add some more texture on the wing and on the tail.
I add a little bit of black to my cadmium red deep to get a darker shade and while it’s still wet, I do some shadows on the wing, the tail and underneath the belly.
Let it dry and go into the face with the black and do the little feet.
Then, I just add some darker red bits to detail the tail and the wing.
I come again with the tip of my brush and do the same thing with some black.
The last step is of course, the little beck using the beautiful cadmium red deep.
There are your three watercolor birds! You can always add a branch and some snow falling for example. I hope you learn something and try to do these birds at home!