Watercolor Bird Painting Process

Watercolor Bird Painting Process

Thought I’d share some of the step-by-steps I go through as I work on the “Blue-crowned Motmot & Black and White Warbler”¬†piece for the International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) art.

FB-MM-SizedSketch

I scanned the sketch into the computer, resized it to match the finished painting, and printed it out.

FB-MM-LightTable2

The sketch printout is placed onto a light table.

Tracing the sketch onto Fabriano Artistico Hotpress watercolor paper.

Tracing the sketch onto Fabriano Artistico Hotpress watercolor paper.

The traced sketch.

The traced sketch.

My palette setup.

My palette setup.

The first background washes are the scariest! No, I didn’t tape down the edges, which causes its own set of issues, but I like being able to pick up the paper and direct the way the washes run.

Building the background washes.

Building the background washes.

Adding more to the background washes, plus blocking in the shadow areas on the birds with a red-brown-purple. The color in the photo is terrible (sorry!).

Adding more to the background washes, plus blocking in the shadow areas on the birds with a red-brown-purple. The color in the photo is terrible (sorry!).

Local color is added to the birds.

Local color is added to the birds.

Close up of the washes of local color on the birds.

Adding details and shading.

Adding more and more layers.

And more . . .

And more . . .

The final painting. Check out the difference in color from the previous photos. This one was scanned instead of phone-photo’d and the color is much truer to the original. I got busy and forgot to take some in-between photos since the last step. Too bad, too, cuz if I had, I might have noticed that it was DONE a few steps back. But no! — I just kept messing with it. What’s that saying about stop working a painting when you feel there’s just one more thing left to do?