The fieldfare is a common bird here in winter, and it’s a delight to paint. In this video I share my entire process for painting a bird with a lot of detail.
How to paint a realistic bird in watercolor
Click on the video to start the tutorial. You can slow down the video (in the Youtube options) to see more details.
I start with a light, but exact graphite sketch (after making several studies beforehand) and layer the watercolor in several washes from light to dark.
I paint in a dark value (eyes and feet) fairly early in the painting process so I can adjust the other values more easily. I don’t always do this, but I often find it helpful to get a feeling for the full tonal range.
The light washes come to life when they are layered on top of each other, and you will get a luminous, rich color over time. It’s important to use transparent, single-pigment paints for this. Applying brush strokes with the texture in mind (feathers, beak, smooth or ruffled) will help to achieve a realistic effect.
You can see me erasing parts of the drawing with a kneaded eraser – these don’t leave bits on the paper and are not harsh on the paper.
I use high quality paper (100% cotton) that can take a lot of mechanical stress – painting several layers and lifting paint repeatedly is not a problem for this paper. Use your inexpensive (cellulose) paper for sketchbook work, for detailed paintings you will need something that can take a lot of water and will work together with your paint.
Materials I used for this painting:
Paints: Schmincke Horadam Neutral Grey (PR255 + PO62 + PB60), Transparent Siena (PR101), Transparent Umber (PR101), Transparent Yellow, Winsor & Newton Davy’s Grey (PG17 + PBk6 + PBk19 + PW5), Daniel Smith Buff Titanium (PW6:1)
Brushes: Leonard size 4/size 2 round brush (synthetic)
Paper: Arches hot-pressed
I love exploring the natural world with watercolor, and I especially love painting birds. I hope you’ve enjoyed this detailed tutorial. If you have any questions or comments or want to see a specific tutorial in the future, please let me know below! Make sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel so you don’t miss out on future videos.