Sunday, November 18, 2012


Just completed: another giraffe portrait, this time in profile:

"High Profile"
Watercolour 370 x 270mm

My process is one of overlaying colour in several layers. I start off with a pencil drawing made using a rough grid dividing the page in sixteen squares. I then lay in the main areas of colour with fairly wet watercolour with a 1/2 inch flat brush.

After that I work in specific areas with a rigger brush - anything from no 0 to 3, depending on the subject matter. When painting animals or birds, I use a very dry brush, which I use almost like a colouring pencil, making the strokes in the direction of the hair growth ( or feathers, in the case of a bird). I often use a damp brush to soften edges of painted areas.

It now becomes almost a game of "find the differences" between the reference picture and my painting. I concentrate on the shapes and shades of colour.     

The very last step is to add the highlights in the eyes, and a few white hairs where necessary. I use white gouache and a fine brush for this. I also used a thicker damp brush to gently lift some paint off the center of the eye-ball to simulate reflections and create depth. (some of the eye-lashes were made by using a toothpick to drag some of the wet paint outward during the stage when I was painting the dark around the eyes.) 

Pin It button on image hover