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Birds of a Feather

Video Duration: 31 mins

Estimated time to complete the lesson: 2-3 hours

(pause video as needed to complete steps, but please complete at your own pace)

This tutorial is recommended for adults and children 10+.

Use watercolour or gouache to create a vibrant bird design, combining layers and patterning with a lovely loose background.

  • be guided step by step through the various layers and techniques

  • learn valuable skills relating to the use of watercolours or gouache

  • design an attractive composition inspired by birds

  • learn how to mix colours, using just the cool primaries

  • pick up handy tips for working with this medium



  • Watercolour paper, no smaller than A4, preferably 300gsm although lighter is still OK

  • Soft brushes suitable for watercolour – taklon is OK, not bristle – small and medium sizes

  • Graphite pencil, 2B or HB

  • Soft eraser

  • Watercolours or gouache, any variety (pan, tube, etc), preferably primary colours. I use Art Spectrum Gouache Tubes in Primary Red, Primary Blue, Primary Yellow, Black, White

  • Water in a medium to large container – if it’s too small it gets dirty quickly – change when needed

  • Paper towel for drying brush between colours

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REMEMBER – there are no rules, don’t be afraid of experimenting!

These are my tips, to be used as as a guideline for creating this particular work, in conjunction with the video. Pause the video after each step and then complete that stage at your own pace. You can always go back to gain clarification on a particular aspect of the process:

  • always draw as lightly as you can when preparing for watercolours…


  • draw bird outline, not too small - you could do more than one bird, but better to keep it simple - use the images supplied for inspiration

  • divide bird into sections, add a branch if you want

  • get your basic colours but don’t use black or white at this stage – try to keep the colours bright

  • if working from tube colours, water them down so they’re ready to use – don’t use these straight from the tube

  • start filling in sections with bright colours, making sure not to let wet areas touch each other, using your medium brush and plenty of water

  • play with the strength of the colour – have some fades, blends, etc… it’s all about variety

  • not everywhere has to have colour… white spaces are good too

  • once the first layers are dry you can start to add details using your smaller brush

  • add a little white to colours to make them opaque, to cover darker colours

  • use the small brush for detail and the back end of the brush to add larger, even dots

  • use your black to add depth and detail to the eyes or other areas

  • once you are happy with the details on the bird, paint your branch, leaving some light

  • now it’s time for the background – I like to blow the paint for big, bold splashes

  • try flicking spots of paint, drips and dribbles – keep it LOOSE – to finish the design.


QUESTIONS: Please feel free to send me an email at

Happy Creating!