¼ page Saunders 330gsm Rough watercolour paper
Burnt Sienna BS
Indanthrone Blue IB (Daniel Smith) Can use Ultramarine Blue UB
Prussian Blue (can use Phthalo Blue) PB
New Gamboge Yellow GY
White Gouache WG
Escoda Perla No.10 (use a round brush with a good point)
Step by Step information
Step One: Draw up your subject. (Photo 1)
Step Two: Block in the dark areas of the bird with a mix of IB (or UB) and BS varying the mix and create a feather like pattern, lifting off colour as you go to create the feather formation on the Kookaburra’s back and wings.(Photo 2 )
Leave an area on the side of the wing white as this will be painted in PB to form the blaze.(Photo 4)Back and wing feathers blocked in.
Even though I am blocking in, I am still painting individual feather ‘shapes’ to create the look of feathers
.Close up of wing and back feathers (Photo 3)
Step Three: Block in the top beak with a mix of IB (UB) and BS making the mix more blue than brown.
Lift off some of the colour just above the bottom part of the beak but darken the part where the top and bottom beak join. When dry and using a BS wash, paint the bottom part of the beak. A touch of GY has been used to yellow off slightly on underside of the beak. (Photo 5)
Step Four: Block in the eye with BS leaving a white area for the reflection. Let dry. (Photo 6)
Paint the white area we reserved on the wing in PB and let dry (Photo 7)
Step Five: Using a thin gouache mix, roughly put in a wash over the lighter head area, then using fine strokes and mixes of BS and BS+IB (UB), paint in some details to depict shadows and feather like marks around the head. (Photo 8)
Step Six: Using gouache again, start putting in the light detail around the feathers on the back and wings. Darken some feathers as required. (Photo 9)
Continue in this way until the dark areas of the back and wings are detailed to your requirements.
NOTE: Not every feather has to be done. Put in as much detail required for the viewer to get the impression of feathers. Darken feathers as needed to vary.
Step Seven: Using the dark mix BS + IB (UB), negatively paint in the details of the feathers that make up the blaze on the side of the wing. (Photo 10)
Step Eight: Make up a wash using gouache and BS ( just enough to discolour the white) and a tiny bit of GY and brush this mix on the body getting lighter and adding more white towards the tail. (Photo 11)
Let this dry completely.
Step Nine: Using gouache, dry brush over the body in places and ‘flick’ into wings where the body meets to give the illusion of fluffy feathers. You can negatively paint into these fluffy bits to form feathers.
Paint in the variations in the tummy feathers. Kookaburras are not white but a mixture of flecks of varying degrees in their body feathers. (Photo 12)
Step Ten: Block in the tail as shown. (Photo 13)
using pure BS.
Using the dark mix , put in the tail markings. Paint in gouache to border the tail and bottom of the tail. (Photo 14)
Step Eleven: Paint the feet with greyish mix using WG, BS and IB (UB). Put in detail with the dark mix.
Now the best bit… the eye!
Earlier I blocked in the eye with BS.
Step Twelve: Using a dark mix BS + IB (UB) or use a straight black, carefully paint in an iris around the reflection mark. ( If the white is lost, it can be put in again later using WG)
Using the black, also paint in a thin line around the whole eye area. Using gouache, paint in 2 ‘C’ like marks top and bottom of the eye. Once dry, use a very light wash of blue to slightly darken the pupil. (Photo 15)
It is at this stage I go around and put in small details like the scars on the beak and any highlights that are needed to finish off the bird.
The following step is painting the tree branch.
Step Thirteen: Wet the area of the branch in stages. Using the 2 colours BS,IB(UB), touch the underside of the branch with mixes of the 2 colours or on their own to form a bark like appearance. Because the branch is fairly wet, the watercolour will pretty much form its own pattern and blend. This gives the appearance of bark on a tree. Do not cover the whole of the area, letting some of the paper show through. You should get a result like in Photo 16.
Now for the background. I used an olive green mixed from BS,IB,YG and a little PB.*
Step Fourteen: Using a fairly wet brush, wet the area around the top half of the Kookaburra and spread to where you want it, then ever so carefully pick up the green mix and drop it around the bird moving the pigment around until you get the desired effect. Make it very light. Hold the paper so the paint flows towards the outside ( i.e upside down)
Do the same with the bottom half.
*NOTE: Make sure you make enough of the colour to do the whole of the area you want to cover.
Final step. Use gouache to soften the area around the kookaburra’s tummy and put some feathers in again as the wash tends to make hard lines that need softening.
And so we have a completed painting of a Kookaburra.
Finished painting (Photo 17)
Artist’s Tips & Hints
When painting in watercolour it is best to start off too light. You can always add a darker tone and build up the intensity required
Get into the habit of taking excess water out of your brush. Keep an old towel or paper towel handy at all times
A brush with a good point can get you through the whole painting.
This demo was done using only one brush.