Bird in the rain watercolour - with tutorial!

I’ve been playing with my watercolours again, prompted by the challenge chain. The theme I picked was rain, so I made this today. 4” x 6”

I though I’d take some photos and share my process and some watercolour tips I find helpful.

Watercolour paper, thick is good
White acrylic paint
2B mechanical pencil
Kneadable eraser
Two water jars, one for rinsing, one for clean water
Paper towel

I start with a light, rough sketch of the main shapes. My sketching is pretty messy!

When I’m happy with the placement, I use a kneadable eraser to erase lines I don’t want, and lighten the lines. I don’t mind if a bit of pencil shows. If you don’t want pencil showing, use a toning watercolour pencil lightly e.g light blue. It will dissolve into the watercolour.

I use assorted brushes, not very expensive. Larger ones for background, and the small dagger at the bottom is my go-to for smaller shapes and details.

Using a small number of colours that tone together helps your picture be cohesive. I used six cool colours:-
Dark blackish blue, very granular (lunar blue)
Bright blue (smalt)
Dark teal
Bright pink (opera rose)
Bright yellow

(I ended up not using the turquoise on the palette.)

Using the clean water and a larger brush, I brushed water over the background areas. Then I gently brushed a little watery paint in, different shades in different areas, keeping it very light under the flower.

… and add a bit more paint. The trick is not to work it with your brush too much. Just let the colours blend and do their thing. If it all goes horribly wrong, put more paint on it and make an ATC masterboard :smiley:

Let it dry completely. Use a hairdryer if you’re feeling impatient.

Now it’s time to add the details - I switch to my small dagger brush here.

Fill in the body with fairly watery paint. You can see where I dabbed off some wet paint with a little bit of paper towel - this is an easy way to add soft highlights.

Add in the different shapes. I added the wing while the pink was still wet, let the colours bleed together, and brushed in tiny bit of purple on the bottom of the bird. I like the effect when colours bleed into each other, but if you want a crisper look, wait for patches to dry before you paint next to them.

Add the yellow flower centre and allow to dry.

I traced a very small amount of the dark blue black around the petals, then quickly rinsed my brush and softened the edge with clean water. Brush up pigment with a clean brush and dab the brush on paper towel to remove excess paint and get light shading - you can see this in the next two photos.

Dab tiny spots of the blue-black on the flower centre for texture - some very diluted and pale, some darker. Add the stalk (I used teal.)

Now for more details.

Add some splashy bits and a puddle round the feet. Keep it dilute and loose. Don’t brush back and forth too much, you’ll lift up the dry paint if you overwork it.

Add an eye and legs with the dark blue. You can see where I extended the dark colour a tiny bit along the bottom of the bird for a bit of depth.

Add some little details as you like. I like little squirls, spots, and feathers. Using the same dark blue-black, yellow and purple paints for details unifies the piece. You could use fine marker pens instead - black and white looks cool on bright colours.

This final step is white acrylic paint for highlights - very small bits of paint make a big difference! I did stripy legs, accent spots on the wing and feathers, a few tiny bits on the puddle, little dots on the flower centre, and brightened the petals (just some paint stokes, not filling the whole petal).

And there it is!


Thank you so much for sharing your process :slight_smile: Your bird is great!


That is so very sweet, thank you for showing us your creative steps!

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That’s beautiful.
Thanks for the tutorial and the inspiration. I’m going to try painting something similar on fabric. I’d totally wear that on a skirt. Or maybe on a pair of white jeans.

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This is super cute! Thank you for also showing us your steps. I’m still new with watercolors. :smiley:

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So cute and thanks for the tutorial. I have watercolor paints that I want to try out.

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watercolor is my fave! your pic is so peaceful and mellow, love everything about it

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Thanks for showing us the process. I love seeing how your works come to life.

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This is brilliant and I love the tutorial. Thank you! I love the look of water color but find it so intimidating. Your tutorial gave me a place to start. :blush:

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Thanks everyone!!

I hope you will give it a try! I love just playing around with the colours, watercolour effects are so beautiful.

Top 3 tips -
plenty of water, keep the paint fluid
paper towel and clean water to lift out bits
let the paint do its thing, it will do the unexpected sometimes and that’s often where the magic is

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What an excellent tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing your tips and techniques!

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Love this! And I’m so grateful for your tips!!

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I just love your work. Thank you for sharing this tutorial.

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Congrats! Your Bird in the Rain Watercolor is one of this week’s featured projects! Yahoo!


Thank you!!

This is beautiful. I’m teaching myself to watercolor - I bought a book called Paint this Book and have moved onto to online videos. I love to see the process so your tutorial was very helpful! I love the colors you chose.

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This looks like magic! Thanks for the tutorial. So cool.

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Thanks for sharing this! I have been inspired and am impressed! Do you work with watercolor in trays and do you get the same/different results?

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Thanks! I’ve only used tubes, I haven’t tried watercolour in pans, so I’m afraid I don’t know whether it makes much difference to techniques.

it’s always so hard to keep white space on a watercolor (since there is no true white paint that is not opaque) so this was such a great little tutorial on your technique. thank you for posting!

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