Great tits are very common and very agile birds that you can see a lot at the bird feeder in winter. They are the biggest of the Paridae family in Europe. The have a lovely black and yellow plumage. In this video I share my entire process for painting one of these cute little birds 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.

Learn how to paint a bird (great tit) – watercolor tutorial timelapse painting

I start by lightening my graphite drawing with a kneadable eraser. I do this because it’s impossible to remove the pencil lines later on, and I don’t want them visible through the transparent yellow watercolor layers.

The first thing I paint for this bird are the eyes and the bill in a dark layer of Neutral Tint (a color that can go from black to light gray depending on its dilution).

I then add light washes of Transparent Yellow for the belly, Olive Green for the scapular (shoulder) feathers, a light wash of Neutral Tint for the wings, and a light wash of Burnt Umber/Buff Titanium for the feet.

Then I add more dark washes of every color in layers to have a greater tonal range. I apply a fairly dark layer of Neutral Tint for the belly, tail and the head directly, and refine it with small brush strokes to indicate feathers.

The most amount of layering is done for the wings with several layers of Neutral Tint and for the yellow part of the belly, which I want to look fluffed up. I achieve this by adding lots of small brush strokes.

I add a very diluted wash of Buff Titanium to the white area of the head (the ear patch) to give it a bit of definition.

The rest of the areas are worked over again with thin Neutral Grey, Olive Green and Buff Titanium to add feather and wing details. It’s important to not slap on the paint in one dark layer, but to build up the color in several thin layer to achieve a well-rounded, dimensional-looking bird.

Materials I used for this painting:

Paints:
Schmincke Horadam: Neutral Grey (PR255 + PO62 + PB60), Transparent Yellow (PY150), Olive Green (yellow) (PO62 + PG36), Burnt Umber (PBr7)
Winsor & Newton: Neutral Tint (PB15 + PBk6 + PV19)
Daniel Smith: Buff Titanium (PW6:1)
Brush:
Leonard size 4/size 2 round brush
Paper: Hahnemühle Bamboo

I love exploring the nature in watercolor, and I especially love painting all kinds of 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!