watercolor owl tutorial

Easy Watercolor Owl (Step-By-Step Tutorial for Beginners)

In this beginner watercolor painting tutorial, you will learn how to paint a super cute watercolor pygmy Owl! Thanks a million to Leonardo for this wonderful step-by-step guide!

Watercolor supplies used in this tutorial:

  • Arches Watercolor paper, hot pressed 10 x 14 inch, 100% cotton
  • SCHMINCKE 48 Half Pan Watercolor Set
  • Watercolor Brushes

It’s really not a problem if you don’t have exactly the same supplies 🙂

This tutorial was created by artists who have handpicked supplies just for you.
Click below to shop with a 30% discount.


Step 1: Sketch the Owl

We begin by sketching an oval for the body and a smaller one, for the head.

We make a cross as guidelines. We make the big eyes on the horizontal line and the beak on the vertical one. The pupils go black

Then we draw the wings and a branch where he is standing on. And the little paws and the tail.

Watercolor Owl Tutorial, Step 1: Sketch the Owl

With the eraser we can clean up the drawing. Good, we are ready to start watercoloring!


Step 2: Wet the Paper

When the sketch is done, we get the paper wet. But just the background, not the branch or the owl.

We start with a big and broad brush and then we use a little one to cut into small spaces.

Watercolor Owl Tutorial, Step 2: Wet the Paper

Step 3: Watercolor the Background

Now we paint with green on the wet paper. I apply different tonalities of it, using dots because I want to make it seem like a foliage background.

Watercolor Owl Tutorial, Step 3: Watercolor the Background

I wait a bit for the paper and the paint to totally dry and I wet it again. This time all of it even the owl on the branch. I also may scrub the borders of the owl and branch to remove any hard edges left from the paint.

Then I apply tiny amounts of blue to the white spaces I left.

Watercolor Owl Tutorial, Step 3: Watercolor the Background 2

Step 4: Watercolor the Owl

We start by coloring the iris of the eye in yellow.

I apply a light base tone to the owl and while that is wet, we can apply some feathers, and get a smooth soft effect using a darker tone of our base color.

Watercolor Owl Tutorial, Step 4: Watercolor the Owl

We paint the shadow that the feathers of the head create.

And then begin some of the feathers of the head. Paint the pupils in black now to have the darkest value and to be able to gage the rest of your next colors.

Watercolor Owl Tutorial, Step 4: Watercolor the Owl 2

When doing the feathers, remember that in watercolor we first do what is light, and then we come on to darker and darker because it is not easy to go backwards.

Watercolor Owl Tutorial, Step 4: Watercolor the Owl 3

We finish by painting some of the darker feathers with a fine brush.

Watercolor Owl Tutorial, Step 4: Watercolor the Owl 4

To put some highlights you can use a knife and scratch off some lines on the tips of the feathers. But be careful, to do this, make sure you are using a good thick paper!

Watercolor Owl highlighting with a knife

And it’s ready!

Watercolor Owl Final

This tutorial was created by artists who have handpicked supplies just for you.
Click below to shop with a 30% discount.

About the Author: Watercolor Classes

Hello, and welcome to our site. We've been passionate about watercolor for years and have learned a lot along the way. We hope our tutorials and tips will help you out on your watercolor journey. Let's make art together!

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