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Did you know?
       "Light wispy brushstrokes
        are the key to
        imitating downy feathers."

 

 
Home  Step-by-Step Lessons  Fluffy Young Duckling

The stages


Fluffy Young Duckling

  • Supply list
  • Painting terms and techniques
  • Color Key
  • Detailed line drawing
  • Complete step-by-step instructions



In this lesson, you will learn how to paint a fluffy young duckling, using transparent non-staining colors.


Supply List
  The following is a list of paints, brushes, and paper that I recommend for achieving equivalent results.  
   

 
   
  • Indian Yellow (W&N)
  • Permanent Rose (W&N)
  • Permanent Brown (DS)
  • Burnt Umber (W&N)
  • Burnt Sienna (W&N)
  • Cadmium Yellow (W&N)
  • no. 5 round, for softening your edges
  • no. 6 round, with a nice point
  • no. 8 round
 
   
 
   
  • 5" x 7" ( 12.7cm x 17.78cm) of Arches 300 lb. Cold Pressed watercolor paper
  • Scrap piece of Arches 140 lb for testing your colors and values
 

Painting Terms and Techniques
 


 

The Color Key

These are the colors and values,
you will need for this lesson.

painted color samples
 
Fluffy Young Duckling
 

[ 1 ]   Permanent Rose + Permanent Brown (tad) (lt.)
[ 2 ]   Indian Yellow (lt./med.)
[ 3 ]   Burnt Umber + Permanent Brown (med.)
[ 4 ]   Burnt Sienna + Indian Yellow (med.)
[ 5 ]   Permanent Rose + Permanent Brown (tad) (med./dk.)
[ 6 ]   Cadmium Yellow (med.)


Line Drawing


detailed line drawing of duckling


Transfer this line drawing onto your watercolor paper,
enlarging or reducing it as needed.

The Steps
 
Step 1

The Underpainting

original painting showing underpainting stage
 
 
When you are finished with Step 1,
your duckling will look like this.
close-up of beak     illustration showing the areas to paint first
Mix colors:

[ 1 ]

[ 2 ]
 
With your kneaded eraser, remove enough graphite from the duckling
to make the lines barely visible.


Beak

Load your brush with [ 1 ] and paint the beak, carefully painting around the areas that need to remain white, and softening the one inside edge with a clean moist brush, as shown in the illustration. Rinse your brush and blot well.


Fluffy down feathers

Duckling head
Load your brush with [ 2 ] and, starting at the beak, paint upwards along the eye line, and as far as the illustration shows you to. Take a separate brush loaded with water, blot lightly, and soften upwards to the top of the head. Let that area dry completely. Paint the small area to the left of the beak in the same manner, keeping the eye area a very pale value. Let dry completely. Rinse your brush and blot well.

Duckling body
Load your brush with [ 2 ] and paint along the top of the chest stopping at the top of the beak. Quickly take a separate brush loaded with water, blot lightly, then charge the water from your brush into [ 2 ]. Paint with this combination until you reach the wispy feathers at the end of the chest. With [ 2 ] still in your brush, quickly paint the large area surrounding the beak as far as shown in the illustration, allowing the left edge to gently charge into the water. Quickly take a separate brush loaded with water, blot lightly, and gently charge the water into [ 2 ]. Paint with this combination to the ends of the wispy feathers on the wing. Let dry completely. Rinse your brush and blot well.

Take your brush that has a fine point, load it with [ 2 ], and paint all the wispy feathers surrounding the duckling (a small section at a time), softening the lower edge with a clean moist brush. Let dry completely.
 
 
 
Step 2
Adding the Details
original painting showing the added details
 
When you are finished with Step 2,
your duckling will look like this.
close-up of beak     illustration showing the areas to be painted for this step
Mix colors:

[ 1 ]

[ 2 ]

[ 4 ]
  Beak

Load your brush with [ 1 ], and using the beak illustration as a guide, paint only those areas as shown, softening some of the inside edges with a clean moist brush. Let each area dry completely before painting the one next to it. Rinse your brush and blot well. Let dry.


Fluffy down feathers

Duckling head
Load your brush with [ 4 ] and, starting at the beak, paint upwards and along the top of the eye line as shown in the illustration. Quickly rinse your brush and blot well. Load your brush with [ 2 ], and charge [ 2 ] into [ 4 ]. Paint only a short distance with this combination. Rinse your brush and blot well. Take a separate clean moist brush, and soften upwards as far as shown in the illustration. Let dry completely.

Paint the eye area next. Load your brush with [ 4 ], blot once, and carefully paint along the top and around the white shape as shown in the illustration. Quickly rinse your brush and blot well. Load your brush with [ 2 ] and gently charge [ 2 ] into [ 4 ]. Paint a short distance, switch back to [ 4 ]and finish at the neckline. Quickly take a separate clean moist brush and soften all the inside edges. Rinse your brush and blot well. Let dry completely.

Duckling body
Paint the chest area first. Load your brush with [ 4 ], and paint a short distance across and down the chest. Quickly take a separate brush loaded with [ 2 ], and charge into the lower edge of [ 4 ]. Paint down the chest a short distance, then soften with water. Repeat this across the rest of the chest and down the wing. Charge [ 2 ]into the wing, and soften to the ends with water. Continue to paint upwards, causing [ 2 ] to charge in with [ 4 ]. Soften with water.

Load your brush that has a nice point with [ 4 ], and paint all the wispy ends of the fluffy feathers along the top of the head, the chest, and along the back, as previously done in Step 1.
 
 
 
Step 3
The Finishing Touches
original painting showing the finishing touches
 
When you are finished with Step 3,
your duckling will look like this.
close-up of beak      illustration showing the areas to be painted for this step
Mix colors:

[ 1 ]

[ 2 ]

[ 3 ]

[ 4 ]

[ 5 ]

[ 6 ]
  Beak

Load your brush with [ 1 ], and paint the light pink areas, softening some of the edges with a clean moist brush as shown in the illustration. Let each area dry completely before painting the one next to it. Rinse your brush and blot well. Let dry. Load your brush that has a nice point with [ 3 ]. Quickly paint all along the top of the beak. Keep the lower edge moist. Blot your brush well. Quickly load your brush with [ 5 ], and gently charge into [ 3 ], then soften the edge with a clean moist brush. Let dry completely. Rinse your brush and blot well. Load your brush that has a nice point with [ 5 ], and paint the nostril hole. Let dry.


Fluffy down feathers

Duckling head
Load your brush with [ 6 ]and, starting at the beak, paint upwards and along the top of the eye line as far as shown in the illustration. Soften the edge upwards with clean water. Let dry completely. Rinse your brush and blot well.

Load your brush with [ 4 ], and paint the area that separates the head from the chest. Rinse your brush and blot well. Load your brush with [ 6 ] and charge into [ 4 ]. Soften upwards a short distance with a clean, moist brush. Let dry.

Load your brush that has a nice point with [ 3 ], blot, and paint the narrow area under the eye line, using very tiny brush strokes.

Duckling body
Load your brush with [ 4 ]. Paint across the top of the chest to the beak, and as far down as shown in the illustration, softening the edge with water. Rinse your brush and blot well. Let dry.

Paint the area directly under the beak next. Load your brush with [ 3 ], and paint the small dark area as shown in the illustration. Do not rinse out your brush, but blot it well. Quickly load your brush with [ 4 ], and gently charge into the surrounding edges of [ 3 ]. Paint with this combination as far as shown in the illustration. Rinse your brush and blot well. Load your brush with [ 6 ], and charge into the left and right side of [ 4 ]. Paint as far as shown in the illustration, softening the edges with water.

Load your brush with [ 6 ], and paint the area to the upper right of the beak, softening with water. Rinse your brush and blot well. Let dry completely.

Paint the wispy feathers. Load your brush that has a nice point with [ 4 ], and blot. Dip the tip of your brush into [ 2 ] and, using wispy brush strokes, paint the individual feathers on the head, the chest, and the areas shown on the back. Let. dry. Take a separate clean, moist brush and randomly soften across the feathers you just painted. Let dry completely.
  When painting the wispy feathers, try to keep the lines as narrow as possible, and stroke your brush upwards and away - not downward toward yourself - using a quick motion. Try not to make them straight. If you find they are wider than you would like them to be, try blotting your brush once to remove some of the color, and/or try using a lighter pressure with your brush.



 
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