How to Paint the Gray Bat | Joy Neasley | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (1h 15m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Mapping out the Gray Bat

    • 4. Mixing Black and Adding Foundation Layers

    • 5. Layering Watercolor Part 1

    • 6. Layering Watercolor Part 2

    • 7. Layering Watercolor Part 3

    • 8. Overlaying wash (Glazing)

    • 9. Final Layer (The Illusion of Details)

    • 10. Conclusion

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About This Class

I am excited to share with you how I paint this Gray Bat, Myotis grisescens.  Their conservation status is near threatened.  It is October right now and the perfect month to paint a bat in watercolor for national bat week or halloween. 

My name is Joy Neasley, and I am a watercolor wildlife and nature artist.  I hope to share with you my love for watercolor and a little bit about nature journaling.

This class is perfect for the beginner with a basic knowledge of watercolor and for the intermediate student.  I cover mixing black in watercolor, layering, glazing, the supplies I use, and how to paint this adorable creature.  Reference photos and a sketch to help you with the initial sketch of the gray bat is attached in this class on the projects and resources page.  

Grab your supplies and lets get started.

7 Lessons (1h 10m)View My Notes

    •  Introduction

    • Supplies
    • Mapping out the Gray Bat
    •  Mixing Black and Adding Foundation Layers

    •  Layering Watercolor Part 1

    •  Layering Watercolor Part 2

    •  Layering Watercolor Part 3

    •  Overlaying wash (Glazing)

    •  Final Layer (The Illusion of Details)

    • Conclusion192cbf65

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Joy Neasley

Watercolor Wildlife & Nature Artist


Watercolor Wildlife and Nature Artist (full-time), and photographer (part-time).


 Currently based out of Tennessee, Joy Neasley is a watercolor artist specializing in Tennessee wildlife and nature.  She enjoys painting in the outdoor natural sunlight with a small pallette of quality watercolor paints, white gouache, and 100% cotton, archival HP watercolor paper.  

     Many ask if she has painted all her life.  The answer is no.  Born in East Texas, as a teenager Joy would often disappear to a nearby farm field to read, write, and draw.  By the time she was 19, Joy let drawing take a backseat to motherhood and family life.  It was not until 2009 that she began drawing again.  From 2009 she focused on... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello. My name is Joy. I am a watercolor, wildlife and nature artist. I'm here at Dunbar Cave, where we have some of our great bats and getting ready to paying. I hope you go and watch the videos. Get excited about National Bat Week This week. Halloween is coming up, so bats are perfect for us to paint today. 2. Supplies: Look, we are back with supplies. I'm gonna share with you what I've used now, keep in mind, use what you have on hand. The results might come out differently. However, it's better to practice than it is to wait until you have the perfect supplies. The first supply is going to be hot press 100% cotton paper, watercolor paper and the reason why I used that as it handles the watercolor very well. The hot press works really well, the details I like to put in and the type texture I use. If you don't have hot press or 100% water color cotton paper, keep in mind the results will come. Come out differently, however. Still great practice. It's Get over here to our water colors. What I use. When's your Newton watercolors to mix the black we used in dethrone blue, scarlet, red and sepia. Other colors are used in this project were burnt number I M Burnt Sienna and Windsor and new white permanent White Wash. These paints work really well. That's why I choose the best there. The professional grade. I like my paintings still last a really long time. However, if you practicing. You might want to have a student grade. The winds are nude. Scotsman watercolors are great student. Great van Gogh, make some. They're quite few out there. However, do not go with departments for great water colors. They will not work well at all. Okay, lets go appear to brushes. I'm going to use the large brown. Brush the small round brush a triple zero detail. Brush a quadruple zero detail. Brush 1/4 inch flat brush in a wide, large angle brush, and this will cover everything you need. And these air simple brushes. You don't have to go expensive with those. Just make sure that the Brussels do not fall out of it so cheap. You'll need masking tape or painter's tape toe. Hold your paper down either a wood board or a piece of poster foam core board. It was a very inexpensive You need couple of pencils with an eraser, just basic pencils. I used the's clip pencils. I love not having a sharpen them and some clean water container and either of old boss cloth or paper towel that you can use to dry your brush off with. Okay, we're ready to get started. Get everything set, you wondered. Here we go 3. Mapping out the Gray Bat: Okay. Are you ready to dive in? I'm going to start with sepia. Um, this bad is very dark, and I wanted to make sure that as I'm painting I can still get my outlines correct in these wings, while the belly is a lighter grey, the wings are very dark. And I also want to make sure and map out this bat so that I have have it in my head. That's mainly with this process is for I usually start with my lightest lights and my darkest, then moved to my darkest darks. I'm in this case, I'm going in reverse, and that is because this bad is very dark. So as you can see, I'm just using straight sepia with a little water mixed soon and a detail brush. Avery Small one. I think this is a triple zero. Um, and my painting, of course, is gonna be eight by 10. So this will work perfect for mapping it out. Now, when these outlines are completely dry, I will begin mixing the black and I'll show you how to mix black and one of these lessons that is attached to this, um, black is very easy to mix. It's a lot more natural to mix a black than it is to try to use Blackwater color, so I want the bat to be as natural looking as possible. And, of course, the crevices of the rock and things like that are also very dark that he's hanging from. So enjoy the outline process, and I will see you when we get ready to start filling it in here in just a few minutes. 4. Mixing Black and Adding Foundation Layers: welcome back. The foundation layer or the outline layer should be dry, completely dry. That means when you touch it, it should not be cool to the touch. And I'm going to show you here how to mix black, starting with a very dark blue here I'm using and Anethe run blue and I'm not sure I'm pronouncing that correctly, but it is one's urinating, professional grade, um, watercolors. And you can use any of the dark blues in this case, um, to come up with a nice black that matches what's in our reference photo. And as you can see here, I'm also adding Scarlet Lake using an orange red black Do no use a pinkish black here, and it's going to give us the nice rich colors were looking for, um, the black in this reference photo fairies from a bluish gray black to a brownish black so this mixture will achieve that. I'm adding sepia for my neutral here. When you mix blacks, you mix a dark blue, a red and a neutral, and you'll get very in colors of blacks. And you just very those colors to come up with whatever shade of black you're looking for now. Here it was still a little too bluish. So you'll see me as I go along in areas ad more of thes sepia to the to the color to the black. I want to bury the tonal values of this black so that I can still see shadows so that I can still see details in the wings. Um, I want to be sure that my black is not flat now for my red, which adds the pinkish skin tones on this bat. You're seeing me, you scarlet lake, because that's the same red that I used in the black mixture. And it'll go really well with it. Um, it's an orange black. It's not a pink. So, um, I have to dilute it a lot to get the color I'm looking for, but it's gonna work perfect, and you'll keep changing this mixture a little bit as you go to get the colors that you're wanting with each layer black, it's going to dry just like any other watercolor. Very light and the black. If you want it vibrant, we do have to add quite a few layers, as long as you allow it completely dry between each of the layers to get a nice rich color . So continue to watch as we add the black. Use your reference photo and ah, this is part one of this section the foundational layers. I always consider the foundational layers the 1st 25% of the painting. And what that does is it basically shows me my darkest darks and my lightest lights before I'm done, the tonal values are not going to blend. They're gonna be off. And that's OK. We're gonna even those out as we go through. The rest of the painting will also create texture and everything later. This is what I call the ugly duckling stage of the painting. And it's going to stay in this ugly duckling stage until we get to about 75% finished. So enjoy, Um, use your reference photo, play around and have fun. That's the most important part of this. Have fun. I love painting. I'll be back in just a few minutes to give you the second portion of the foundational layer - means when you place your hand over the water color, you do not feel it doesn't feel cool. This should be completely dry to the touch and not feel when it feels cool. It is almost drive, but not quite there. So let it dry a little longer. Now we're going to start bringing out with the black some of the things in the wings. And we're gonna do that by painting the shadow side because the veins themselves, they're not quite as dark. And we want to make sure we start bringing that out while I'm also going to start defining a little bit of the vein here or the wing. But I don't want to do too much. This is still the foundation. Our objective is to get water color on the paper. At this point, I'm still using a somewhat watery mix, which means this is going to dry lighter. But that's OK. I Ferried my black by adding a little bit of sepia into areas to bring out some of the brown that I see in this great matter a great bat and you can see where I'm being careful right here, trying to define the wing from the shadows in the body. That's a little difficult with the reference photo, because bats are in dark areas and our reference photo was taken in a dark area. So you can see, though, if we pick close attention where we can bring it out that some of those details now I'm working right to left because I'm left handed. However, if you're right handed, you might want to choose to work left to right. And But you can do that just by watching this section. And then, um, going back over the areas, as you see when I get over to the right, set the left side of the painting, and then you can rewind and come back to this section and do it last. So that way you don't smear your water color. Now, if you're able to going and do it, the direction I'm doing it, that's not a hard and fast rule. It's just a way to keep you from smearing the water color on the portion of the paper you don't want with your hand that way. What's underhand stage dry. Now I have sped this up a little bit and see me working on the wing. I'm gonna move to the center and fill in a little bit of the darker color for the, um under lying color the gray for start defining a little bit of his face. I'm not getting into the details yet. That will be next. I'm using a flat brush. And the reason why is I'm just painting. I'm not painting details. I'm just ah, painting in the direction of the for the direction of the wing veins so that we're getting a basic layer down getting paint on the paper as we build it up this bat Great. That will come to life. So I'll catch up with you here in just a second. Have fun painting the wing. Get over to the right wing. I'll be right back. - Okay , We're ready. Here. Work on the right wing. Making sure we're painting in the direction of are the left wing. I'm sorry. In the direction that we're headed with the veins creating shadows, not actually painting the veins. Usually your create your painting to shadow along the side of the vein to bring it out. Highlights will pop in on the veins. I'm mixing sepia and by mixing the sepia with the black, bringing out some different tones and tonal values here. If you look very closely at the reference photo. The tones do vary. There's a lot more off the brownish black on this side, so that's what I'm bringing out. If you look at our reference photo, it's really dark because bats are in dark places in caves, but we can decipher shadows and various tonal values On this brown grey back, I'm creating an under painting here, our shadows to bring the roundness out in his furry little belly. We're gonna paint whitewash over this in a minute. But you see me bring it out some of the roundness by following the direction off. The for the for is in so many different directions on his stomach and his neck. But if you look at it, can a If you look the way the for flows, it brings out the roundness naturally and his stomachs. I'm trying to follow that with the brush here with the under painting. Now I'm gonna paint a little more black and brown. Then you see on the actual painting are on the actual bat because I'm going to go over this with the white wash like you see right here have started picking up the wash, um, painting it rather wet, but in the direction of the for again. And here I'm just trying to get it on the paper trying to get this covered. We're gonna build it up from here, but I want to get this foundation layer down. And I'm using my flat brush to do that because I'm trying not to create too much detail here. Just direction of the for. It continued to do this. Don't put so much down that, um it's a solid white blob. It's better toe put less painless of the whitewash on it and go back and add another layer if you need Teoh than it is to paint too much. This is the white permanent white wash by Windsor Newton. And it works really well. So I'm gonna let you continue this. And when we finished this section, we will be finished with the foundation layers and you will have 25% of your painting complete 5. Layering Watercolor Part 1: Now it's time to start layering watercolor in the layers. Got to remember when you're building with watercolor layers, you have taken to account the layers under it. Now we're also using White Wash What's means. You want to make sure that this is absolutely drive between layers. Oh, is the whitewash will smear and mix with the black and all you'll get is a weight ish, murky grey. We don't want that. So each layer has to be completely dry. Um, I'm gonna work a little bit around the face. We need Start getting some detail in there, at least the hints of detail at this moment, Um, the two little eyes, which are a little hard to see, but they're there, so you might want to start mapping them out and figuring out where the little highlights and his eyes were gonna be. Remember, when you're brushing on the color and in this case, it's mostly black or sepia or the white wash, so a black mixture and those are the colors amusing at the moment. I'm also going back and forth between a small and a medium round brush, a detail brush and a a quarter inch flat brush. And that's just to give me some variation to give me the illusion of for and to give their rocks and texture. When we get to that. Now, I'm just slowly building up here the shadows in the highlights in the photo. It's a little hard to see the details, the reference photo, some kind of creating them myself right here. And I did a little research on the Internet on Grey Bat Anatomy to make sure I could see some of the details of the eyes in the face and the structure. Different bats have different features. Different kinds of nose is different eyes, long years, short ears, things like that. So I thought I would, uh, look up the anatomy and try to get a little clear idea on the facial features here to make sure I got them right for the great Bat I do when I paint like to keep the artistic look in my art. So when we're painting, you have natural history illustration and natural history art. You have botanical illustration and botanical art, depending on what nature your painting or what wildlife your painting. The differences are with illustration. You'll notice styles 10 to all appear the same or close to because they're illustrating that generalized identification feature. And these bats are in whatever animal, your painting or in whatever floral. If it's a botanical and I prefer the art I like to give character, I like to keep the artistic look. I want this to look like a painting, even though I want it somewhat realistic. I also want people to be able to look at this and identify that this is a great bat. However, keeping the brush strokes in keeping this looking like it is a piece of artwork. I prefer the artistic look, the artistic aspect. Um, I also love taking artistic liberties. With illustration. Botanical illustration. Natural History illustration. There are no artistic liberties you can take with it. You are reproducing that exact image for scientific purposes. Um, I prefer keeping the artistic look, taking artistic liberties when necessary. However, keeping it is accurate as I can in the artistic room. I don't know if that makes a lot of sense to you, Um, as you paint, you'll kind of see what I'm talking about. But I like my animals and the nature that I paint and draw the botanicals that I paint and draw toe all be aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but also artistic, something that obviously is a piece of fine art. Now, as I go through this, you're going to see me creating lots of layers of the white wash to build up the texture in the fluffy. For these little guys are furry and you're gonna see me every so often, put a layer of black in certain areas to bring out the dark areas of the black. But I want to leave a little. I don't want it as dark as our reference photo. And the reason why is I would like to create This is one of my artistic liberties. I would like to create a little more depth and definition there, so you'll see that as I'm going through, follow along or watch and then apply years. If you have any questions, you're always free to message me in the community section of this ah, class. And I love to see your work. So send me images through the project page Ah, through the community page in the discussions. Let me see how you doing. Um, if you want to know about any, Uh, anything you see in the video that you see me do that? Maybe I didn't explain thoroughly or something. Feel free to say something. I'm happy to explain it. Um, I can also possibly bring it out in a future video, so I'm gonna let you watch as I paint. And this is pretty straightforward here. We're pretty much going to just continue layering and building up. I'm gonna go back and forth between the darks and the lights in the for and beginning to create the illusion of some of the detail in the face. I'll be back here a little while X . 6. Layering Watercolor Part 2: I hope you're enjoying the layering process. I find it very meditative for therapeutic. Um, part of the reason why I paint is I had a couple of a schematic strokes a few years ago and this is something I learned to dio to speed up the healing process. As you see here I am throwing in another layer of whitewash. Now, whitewash is opaque, but that does not mean the layer under it doesn't show through when it dries you comptel, um I throw I've got quite a few layers forward. Done will be adding some more. And this all builds up the texture that for And I'm trying to be careful toe leave shadows to start bringing out a little definition. I want the furry stomach to appear rounded. So you're going to use your rules for painting around object with highlights and shadows and things like that, even though it's for and now we're not getting into the detail of the for yet. This is still all under painting. Um, the details will come about 75% finished. That's when we'll start creating illusions of details. Right now we're building it up. We are painting in the direction of the for which is quite a few different directions. If you're looking at it, I am using a quarter inch straight brush here and a detail brush to bring out the illusion of, For you can use this quarter inch flat brush and use it as, ah, piece of for a couple pieces of For If you splay the ends a little bit of the brush, you'll get a little bit more furry look than you would if you just leave it flat. As you see me do this, I'm going to go back and work on the face and the years periodically. That's gonna be our greatest detail. I tend when I paint again. This is one of those artistic liberties I was telling you about. I like my paintings to be Justus if it were taking a photo. Not in the sense of realism, but in the sense of focus. I like the focus area to be where my detail primarily is just like when you take a picture , you have your area of focus, and then from there everything begins to fade out, depending on how far it is or how close it is to your camera, and as you'll see, that's the way I treat my artwork. Also, it gives a focal point for the eye to go to when people look at the painting. And then after they go to that focal point, their eyes drawn out, just a zit would if they were looking at a beautiful photo taken with proper focus and sharpness. And you see me, I'm still keeping with the roundness of the stomach here in the chest, trying to work in a little bit of depth around the chin and under it build a little bit around this in the face, and I'm building up the layers of the white wash. But it's not a solid layer. If you notice I am dabbing it on now. In the beginning, I started out with very wet paint. Now I'm probably about 50 50. This brush is partially dry. I mean, the pain is partially dry, even though the brushes damp. I don't want to use completely dry yet. I'm not dry brushing, but I am using partially dry go wash to go on this layer. And as we gets closer and closer to the detail ing to the finish of the layering. You'll see that I get drier and drier with the brush to create more intensity with the pink colors and tonal values. Now, as far as the tonal values air going here, if you concede e, I'm slowly bringing that in everything slowly evening out. In the beginning, we had a very stark contrast. We had the white of the paper. We had the black, and I was just putting in the lightest lights and the darkest darks. I was not worried about whether they blended whether the tonal values matched. Now, when we get to into this layer, you'll see me do a water glaze or maybe a glaze with just a touch of birth number in it. I haven't decided yet, and ah, that will bring everything in this painting together after we get the tonal values, even in this thing. Now I'll brush that over the rock and the bat to kind of give it an even Hugh and even tone . Why? I said I have a 100% decided yet I think that's gonna be burn number, maybe a touch of burnt sienna mixed in with that. I haven't made a decision on that yet we'll see as we go, and then one that'll bring it. By doing that wash, we will create the illusion of realism. It's gonna bring it all together. And then on top of that, I will start adding details. Now I'm gonna let you go, let you paint. Enjoy the process. That's what this is about. If it's not working out, that's okay. This video. You can watch it as many times as you want, and you can try painting this as many times as you want. I guarantee you painting watercolor is just like anything else. It's a skill that can be learned. It just takes time. The more you to paint, the better you'll get. I advise you not throw away the paintings that you're not happy with, because if you're a beginner in two or three years, you can put your painting side by side and see the difference and realize, Whoa, look at what I've done. It just takes consistent painting. Whether that's once a week was it's 15 minutes a day. Whatever you do, if you learning a new skill, consistency is the key fitting, a habit of doing it 7. Layering Watercolor Part 3: I love seeing a painting come together like this. It's Ah, finally cut the tones air coming together. You're starting to see shape. You're starting to feel like there's a little bit of realism to this bat. Yet you can still see the painting strokes. I have a lot of fun at this stage because when you're going to that ugly duckling stage it can be you can want a throw the painting out and start over. But if you keep pushing through it, this is what you get to. And by the time we finish, it's gonna be perfect. You're gonna be happy with it. Even if you're a beginner and this is your first painting, push through those ugly duckling phases and you're not. You're gonna be thankful you did. Now I'm adding the final layers of this stage to get thes tones evened out, trying to closely match the coloring of the great bat that I see in the photos. However, mine is a little darker. Um, we will lighten it up, some with pure white wash and sepia at the end. A little black mix and you'll see how this goes will continue to layer, keep going here, work on the details of the face periodically as your layering. Be careful to make sure everything dries. That's something else I wanna dimension. A lot of people like to use hairdryers or heat dryers to dry their watercolor faster. Be careful. If you decide to do this, I choose not to. I prefer to wait, um, and work on something else during those drying periods, because I tend to get more vibrant color that way. I also don't run the risk of having, if you're newer tip watercolor, having too much water on the paper and the heat dryer blowing the water around and distorting your painting a little bit. I just fertile it dry naturally, and that tends to give me the look that I'm going for in my paintings with when with these types of water color with the Windsor Newton watercolor and the wash. So if you do choose to do it, that's fine. Just ah, beware. Be careful. Maybe do one where you do air dry it, and one where you don't look at the difference. See what you like. Continue this and when we come back, I'm going to show you how to glaze before we right before we go into the details. I'll see you soon X 8. Overlaying wash (Glazing): you were at the point now toe where we're ready for details. But before we do that, we have one crucial step and that is called glazing. It's where we take a very watered down water color and use it to bring together everything we've done to create uneven tone across every aspect of the painting. As you see here, I'm using and large angle brush so that can use the tip or the flat edge, depending on what section I'm working on. I'm also using burnt sienna, a touch of burnt number, and I touched a sepia all mixed together here with a lot of water. You'll see me dipping my brush a lot in the water. I want this very transparent. Now, One thing you have to do is be sure to paint in the direction of whatever it is you're painting in these rocks. I'm starting in the crevices and bringing it out on the for You will see me paint only in the directions of the for Now we're using whitewash when you use white wash on a painting. When you do your glaze Are you over painting? You need to be very careful not to spread that white wash around. It will lift and move, so I go over each area once. I'm very careful to paint in the direction. And if I go over an area where the wash is strong, I be sure. Dwight, I'm very careful. Toe wipe off my brush frequently to dry it out and then get more water and paint. You want to make sure this is very translucent. Be sure, absolutely paint in the direction of what's going on. When this is finished, we'll be ready to start our details. This layer will darken our painting. Some be very careful toe. Let it dry 100%. That will take quite a while to dry. So have fun doing something else. Clean the house. Start another painting. Get your next thing sketched out for UNIX painting while you're waiting. Finished to dry, See in a minute 9. Final Layer (The Illusion of Details): we're on the final stretch, you're almost finished. You see, I've mixed more black, and I am applying it with a quadruple zero. That's four zeros detail brush and a triple zero Deepdale brush. And when I do the final detail on the rock, I will be using a small round brush, and I'm just adding in shading and highlights here. I want to take a step back. Your painting should be completely dry, and you take a step back and look at it. And you can see where, um, with fresh eyes here, where shadows need to be. Or maybe you need to add more definition. A few highlights and we don't wanna put in too many we want. As you learn to paint, you'll learn real quick. Which details? Add which ones not to, um, to do this. Just look at the reference photo kind of squint your eyes a little bit. It will get blurry, but you'll see certain images or certain aspects of the reference photo that still stand out. Those are the details you want to put in around the face. I also I'm gonna dark in the eyes a little bit to find the mouth and the nose a little more a few of the little areas in the ears to give it more definition. So it looks like one of the year's turning a little bit and also around where the nails are on the upper portion of his wings. I don't remember what that portion of the bats called, but I do want to find that a little better. And then as we get up towards the Rock, they're going to be less and less details because they want the initial focus to be at the bottom on his face. That's why we're gonna work on the face and around his nails on the upper portion of his wings there to create the most detail. And then after that, you're just stepping back from the painting and you're looking at it to see okay, to create roundness. Do I need a highlight here? A shadow here, two. Should that the wings air defined. Do I need a highlight here? A shadow here and that's all it's gonna take. So have fun. If you have any questions, contact me and I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. Bats are wonderful little creatures, the misunderstood. But this is national bat week here in the US And I thought this little guy was just too adorable not to paint this time of year. So I'll see you in a few. Um, we'll recap and the conclusion. 10. Conclusion: I hope you enjoyed painting the great bad as much as I did. There are quite a few different types of bats with different types of anatomy. If you're interested in getting involved in any painting, any of those flicker and Google are perfect. Um, for locating reference photos. Instagram just be sure and ask permission to paint the image. If the image has a copyright on it, you can always message me on Instagram at Joy Measly studios. The link is in the lesson or in my profile, and I look forward to seeing your work. Please share it with us.