Paint a Christmas Cardinal and a Candy cane in Acrylic | Charlotte Jordan | Skillshare

Paint a Christmas Cardinal and a Candy cane in Acrylic

Charlotte Jordan, Artist | Entrepreneur | Teacher

Paint a Christmas Cardinal and a Candy cane in Acrylic

Charlotte Jordan, Artist | Entrepreneur | Teacher

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8 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. Introduction 1

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Background

    • 4. Base layer

    • 5. Rough Texture

    • 6. Glazing and a Beak

    • 7. Details!

    • 8. The Candy Cane and Finishing Touches

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About This Class

In this fun class I will show you how to paint this cute little cardinal perching on his candy cane for christmas. Birds are so fun to paint and so it being the holidays, I figured that it would be a great painting to create for christmas. 

Now this is a more intermediate class and I will expect you to know the basics of acrylic painting before tackling this little bird. You can check out my acrylic basics class if you want a reminder of working with acrylic paint here.

Meet Your Teacher

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Charlotte Jordan

Artist | Entrepreneur | Teacher



Charlotte Jordan is a Florida based artist from England. She is also a student of veterinary medicine and a animal enthusiast. In her courses, she will teach a range of artistic skills that she has honed over the years as well as ways to market your pieces.

Her work explores the surreal and the beautiful. The animals she paints are often brought to life with her unique style and perception of the natural world. Felines are one of her most favorite creatures to paint, but she loves to experiment and challenge herself, as well as teach and inspire others to use their creativity.

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1. Introduction 1: Hello everybody. My name is Charlotte Jordan. I have a self-taught surreal animal artist based in Florida. It is the holiday season, one of my favorite seasons of the year and loved Christmas. I love the feeling it gives me and all the other things included in the holidays such as family gift giving, as well as those wonderful Christmas smells that I absolutely loved. In today's class, I will be showing you how to paint this adorable little christmas Cardinal and love Cognos, they're very adorable. I think they are the symbol of Christmas or winter at the very least. For those who don't believe in Christmas, this is more of an advanced class. I will expect you to know the basics of acrylic painting. If you want to refresh your mind or your memory on that stuff. I didn't have an acrylics Basics class that you can take. I hope you enjoy the class and learns new tricks and techniques, as well as have fun and get into the holiday spirit of thanks. So I will see you in the class says, let's just get in there. Okay. 2. Supplies: All right, so for the supplies for this class, the quite straightforward, only a few things needed really, for the actual surface I'm working on. I'm using a campus sport here. This is an 11 by 14 size. Just something kinda small and really easy to work with for the paints, obviously it is acrylic and I'm using a selection of the yellows, reds and a little bit of brown and obviously black and white. So do have those on hand for the brushes. So I'm also using a small selection, a wide flat brush, a small rake brush, a detail brush. And I also have another brush that I am using to use the background for, which I don't show here. So really easy and simple supplies, obviously much uncle 40 have a palate and some paper towels. And that will be everything. 3. Background: All right, so here I have the very basic sketch of the cardinal here. We're going to start with the background where I'm going to use these two yellows, mainly yellow okra and a deep cadmium hue. And I'm gonna take this yellow ochre and I'm gonna take my flat brush and just pretty much paint the entire background with this color. Again, doesn't matter if it's to streaky or anything because we're gonna be going over it later with a couple of different little shades and giving it some texture so that streakiness will not show any way. But I'm going to be covering the entire canvas in this. Obviously, I will speed it up for you because it is pretty straightforward what I'm doing here. And you don't need to see the entire process of me painting the blank space. Obviously, be careful of painting around or drawing of the cardinal. You don't want to cover that. So you'll see me be a little more careful towards the end of the cardinal here. Again, don't worry if you get any little patches painted over, it's fine. We can redraw those if you do lose that. As for the candy cane itself, again, I'm not worried about that until much later on in the painting. So don't think you have to draw everything in just yet. So now that I have this all completely painted in the yellow oat crop color, the Michigan is switch over to a different brush. This brush is little difficult to describe. It's like a stippling brush. It's kind of flat and school stiff bristles to it. And I've found that it's really excellent for creating texture and a stippling technique. And what I'm doing is I'm actually taking some brown and I'm going to basically stippled the edges with this Brown. And I'm also taking this cadmium yellow and I'm going to pretty much stippled on this cadmium yellow throughout the background. So that's what I'm starting with. Here's just the yellow stippling and on, I'm actually tapping off the brush before I put it on the canvas. And that way you won't get any globs of paint. So just remember to tap off your brush every time you pick up some paint. It's just kind of a good rule of thumb. So I'm gonna go ahead and speed this up for you just cause it's pretty straightforward what I'm doing, just tapping on stippling on the yellow hue for now. And then I will slow it down when I get to the Brown So I can explain a little bit about what I'm doing. Real simple and pretty much covering the entire background with this, I'm leaving pretty much the edges alone. I'm focusing it more towards the center of oil painting itself, just so it has a brighter, warmer color in there. So now I'm switching to some pure brown hair and I'm literally just taking my brush and kind of dotting some blobs along the edges and then blending those into the wet paint. Whilst I whilst the paint dries and blending it in, whilst the paint on the background layer is still a bit damp. So it helps to blend it a little bit if it looks too dark now, don't worry because we are going to be going over that in a yellow ochre layer. Just tone down the color a bit. And I'm gonna do this pretty much all around the entire edge of my painting. And because this is a darker color, is going to help draw the eye in towards the cardinal, despite the fact that the column is going to be pretty much a bright red, so your eye will be drawn to him anyway. We're gonna go ahead and speed it up. Again. Straightforward, really easy background. Not much effort needs to be put in here, is just a lot of tapping the brush. So now that that is pretty much done, like I said, I'm gonna go back over with the brush with the yellow okra to tone down the really harsh edges. And just to give a really nice subtle look and this is going to help blend it whilst the paint is still wet. Helped create a nice subtle effect of texture. And obviously drawing the iIn. Again, it'll be sped up because it's straightforward crowd doing. And then of course, the final thing that I'm going to be doing for my background is adding in a touch of white, more toward the center of where the bird is very, very lightly, not, not putting too much on. Otherwise, it's just going to look like a bit of a white mass. And letting this again blend and the wet paint on the surface below, I just want to license it slightly so the bird really stands out from the background and has a nice backdrop. And just working that into the paint. And that's pretty much all background done. Really simple. You can choose different colors if you want to. Obviously choose a color that is going to help your Cardinal and the candy cane stand out The best. I thought yellow was a great sort of vintage G color to go for, for this Christmas piece. So that's why I chose it. And so now we're gonna move on to the carnival in the next class then. 4. Base layer: All right, so for the next stage in this little cardinal painting is actually starting on the bird self. I'm gonna be using this crimson color here, mixing it with white or black to get my lights and darks. So when we start him by mixing it with some black to create this deep red color. And we're gonna start with the base layer of the entire Cardinal. Basically, the base layer is putting in your values first before you start figuring out where the details and all that stuff is going to be. So for this particular layer, you want to think about how is your light affecting the bird itself. And so for this, you need to decide which direction your light is actually coming from. So as you can see, I have chosen Sort of a light source coming from the side which his beak is on from the left. And I'm basically working in the paint to suit that direction. So all his shadows are going to be on the right side pretty much. And you wanna keep thinking about this as we go through the base layer here. You wanna make sure you get your shadows and your values looking right before anything else, you'll values are probably the most important part of a painting. They can really, really bring to life your paintings much more than any details or textures. Could do. Some work in my value, starting with darks. I'll speed it up a little bit for you so you can sort of get the gist of it, just speeding them up as well. So you can see that I'm going along each little further thinking about how the light is going to affect the tail feathers in particular here, kinda almost like we're sketching out our drawing in paint form. And then going along the areas that you would think have the most shadows. So just along the back of the head there where the light wouldn't not quite reach along the bottom of his legs and where his legs kinda curve around. So now we've got our basic darkest values in and we're going to switch over to just some pure red here. I'm not mixing anything into this one, just using the pure crimson out of the two. And I'm gonna put in those mid tones. They're not the brightest tones, but there are those nice mid tones that we typically see covering the majority of a lot of paintings or a lot of art subjects. So remember, these are not the brightest areas on your bird, but just the areas that are sort of the mid tones. Time when we focusing these a lot more to the middle of the bird has body on his chest, they're a little bit on his legs and feathers and a tiny bit on the head there as well, leaving a little bit of a gap left for the brightest red, which will be kind of web highlights are. And like I said, once you get your values right, it can really, really help you a lot later on in the painting process and early on to, to figure out what you need to do next is I'm gonna go ahead and speed this up view because it is straight forward at this point. Now don't worry if perhaps you didn't leave any gaps for the whitest or the brightest highlight value. You can always go back over it. Acrylic is a thick paint so you can repaint over things if necessary. So now I'm mixing a bit of white in with my red to make it a nice pinkish tone. And this is going to be my basic bright value. And we're gonna fill in the rest of the white areas that have a red color. And I'm leaving his legs and the bit his beak and the bit around his eye and stuff. Blank for now because we will be going in with that later. Those areas are typically black and his beak is more of like a creamish color. So I'm leaving those alone for now. There are really quite simple and because they're such a small area, you can leave that stuff alone because it doesn't play too huge a role in the actual bird itself. So don't worry about those. And it's even at this point that you can really see the 3D, 3D mess, if you like, of the bird starting to come through. Just because this whole value layer is really going to help you understand how lighting is going to affect your bird, which is going to make your bird really look real. And he's, you'd see I was putting a tiny touch of that brighter pink color on the tips of the feathers just to one side where he might have some of that highlight. Now remember this is just a really rough layer of values. That's the first layer. We've still got many layers to go, but that should conclude our base layer for the actual Cardinal itself. So in the next class we're going to focus on some rough texture. 5. Rough Texture : All right, so now we've done our basic evalue layer. We're going to switch over to creating some different textures on our cardinal. And I'm using this little rake brush right here. I'm mixing a tiny bit of white in with that pinkish color that we used with our base. And I'm gonna start creating these kinda feathers strokes across the Cardinals body. And you want to pay attention to the direction that these further strokes go in because they've got to make sense. Obviously. If you want this to look like a realistic cardinal. So I'm just gonna start to add this pretty much all over the place. Don't worry if the paint below is still a little bit wet and mixes slightly, that's perfectly fine. This is just a rough texture layer. You'll notice, especially on the bird's chest and certain areas on his head, that I'm clumping. The feathers. The feathers in birds and fur on animals naturally clump into little groups. And that just gives it a much more realistic look. Then if you were to just do feather strokes all across the body, absolutely everywhere. So you want to really focus on leaving a few little gaps of that underlayer showing through. And obviously pay attention to the direction your feathers are facing it. And they've got to make sense to the actual bird. So if you look up on the head here, I'm having the feathers point in an upward diagonal, diagonal direction. And that just makes sense to how the feathers would work on his head. Don't worry if your base layer gets covered, it's perfectly fine. As long as you have a hint of it, then you should know where everything is and how it should look. So I'm just going through all the areas. I'm trying to concentrate this more to the highlighted areas because we are using a lighter color for this texture. So do concentrate in those areas are where the highlights would perhaps be reflecting each of those strands of feathers. When I get down to the tail feathers, remember, each feather has a vein running through it. Especially the bigger they get, the more obvious fat is. So the tail feathers, it's quite obvious that that awesome veins running through the center of each other. So I'm trying to face the feather. The brushstrokes, I should say, in the direction that they're coming off of the vein. I know that sounds a little bit complicated, but I'm sure you'll get what I mean. So I'm just going through with all of this little detailing and I'll speed that up for you. So now I'm going to wash up my brush and put some complete black on that brush. I'm just using the same brush because it's easier for me. You might want to go with the detail brush if you would choose. I'm just using the rake brush that I've used for perimeter, everything else because that's a little easier for me. Now. I'm going with the brush and I'm using complete black to fill in the areas that have black in it, such as this area around the beak in the eye. And obviously the legs also have black on that. And I'm doing this now before I forget and before I do anything else because I want to be able to a layer it and put some rough details on while we're on the stage. You know, I left it alone pretty much throughout the base layer painting stage. But I wanted to fill this in now because we're doing some layering. Pretty straightforward. I'll go ahead and speed that up for you. All I'm doing is filling in the black. All right. So I filled in all the black areas and now just like before with the base layer that we did, I'm taking a little bit of white and making a gray and filling in the rest of the white areas on the cardinal, the areas that might have more of a highlight to them why they wouldn't be jet black. And this is going to help you later on, especially when we start putting highlights and details and all sorts of stuff like that. So just that little face part and where the legs are. So nice and simple, you can really see the cardinal coming together now. So I'm just washing out my brush. And now we're going to focus a little bit of highlighting onto the grey areas where the light might be really affecting those places. Not too much. Again, this is going to probably have several layers before it looks nice. And this is a light, light gray that I'm using, just mixing a lot more white into that deeper grey that we were using before. So now we have our basic layers and a rough detailing or rough texture layer, I should say. So now I'm actually going in with a washed out black and I'm starting to go in and add some really deep shadows into certain places. As you can see, where the tail feathers are, where the candy cane will eventually being cast a shadow over that where his legs are. And of course, the darker areas that we did with our first value layer. This is really going to help deepen up the shadows, make it look even more 3D and realistic looking. And this is just really a easy, straightforward, simple process of doing it with black. You can use a really dark red like we did at the base layer before. But I decided to go in with black simply because it gives a bit of a darker edge to it and really achieves that shady look. So you want to be careful with how much black you actually use. You want to keep this somewhat washed out. You don't use too much black because black can be quite overpowering. So you wanna make sure you're layer beneath this quite dry before you apply this. But just keep it quite subtle. Keep your darkest areas where it makes sense, such as where the cardinal is perching, buy the candy cane. But that's pretty much all we're going to be doing for this class. So in the next class we are going to be moving on to a really fun layer that I like to do a lot, which is glazing. 6. Glazing and a Beak: Alright, so now we are moving on to the next stage in our painting, which is the glazing phase. Glazing is such a great way to add back in the color to your paintings, as well as a boost to the vibrancy and really helped things stand out better. Now, I'm actually using a proper glazing medium for this and a tiny bit of crimson pigment. But if you don't have glazing medium, water works just as fine. You'll basically heavily watered down your pigments just enough so that they are somewhat translucent and very flowy. And you'll just cover your entire painting in that. Don't worry about all the work you've just done because it's still going to show through. Your glazing liquid should be transparent enough that all that work does show through it. Basically, glazing is a great way to just read, tint the color. That's primarily what I use it for. But it is also a great way to add in some shadows. You'll see me concentrating this glazing fluid where the shadows primarily are. Just because it helps boost bat as well, is going to even everything out for you. Simply because you are covering pretty much all the red parts of the cardinal with this red glaze. And I would actually recommend, if you don't have glazing medium, I would recommend you get some if you paint with oils or acrylics, it's just so useful in adding in some color to your pieces if the layers kind of blues, that vibrancy. My personal preference is the liquid tax professional glazing medium. That's the one that I just like to use. No particular reason. It's just it's affordable. And that's the one I used for the acrylics. Obviously, I'm an acrylic painter. You'd might want to do your research if you were a OIL painter. So you can see going in, creating the layers to create the depth, I add a tiny bit of that dark red that we used in the very stopped to my glazing mix. Just deepen up the shadows and that's where I am concentrating it as well. Let me go ahead and spin it up for you. Just because I think that it's pretty obvious what I'm doing now. So during this glazing phase, I'm also going to be filling in the beak. I figured it was time to do the beak as it had been left sitting that blank for a while. And I'm actually gonna be using an array of colors here. I'm just using a little flat brush for this, my rake brush. And it's just easy way to get into the corners with that brush. So I'm actually starting out by using a little bit of that dark red just around the edge of the bottom part of the beak as well as a little bit of the top. Just kind of line it and give it a shadow if you like. I use a little bit of fat yellow okra. I lighten it up though with a bit of white. And the cardinal peaks tend to have this creamy color. Some of them actually have a tiny bit flock a pinkish red in them, just because it's sort of like the color of their feathers bleed into the beacon away. So that's kinda what I was trying to achieve with that. And so I'm just keeping it really light. Don't make it too heavy in the shading department, otherwise you will lose that definition of the beak, the hard part of the bird's body. So you want it to have a bit of a CRISPR definition. So I'm gonna start going a little bit lighter with this as well to create a creamy color and also some highlights just on both the top and bottom parts of the beak. And you'll see me go in just creating little bits of shadow using those three colors, the red, the yellow, or the cream color, I should say, and some highlights with be white. And I do use a tiny hint of Brown in the shadow areas as well. Just a very small hint to give it that creamish colour. Here I'm just adding a little tiny highlight to the beak, not using pure white yet. This is a lighter creamy color. So using that brownish yellow mix and putting a lot of white in it, I want to save my brightest whites to the very end, which is the detail part of the cardinal. I'm just adding in some very small little marks here with the brush just to create those dark areas. And that is pretty much this little section done. Just some glazing to bring back that red color in the bird and also filling in the beak. As it was about time that we did that. So in the next class, as I mentioned, we are going to be moving on to the details and the final little highlights on the bird itself before we move on to the candy cane. So I will see you in that next class. 7. Details!: So now we can finally move onto the last stage of the cardinal itself. And that is the detail and highlight stage, which is the last stage. So I'm taking my rake brush from before and I'm using that pale pink value that we used pretty much the beginning of the painting process. I mixed a tiny bit of white with it just to make it even paler. And I'm starting to add in those refined sort of brush strokes to create that shiny kind of feathery look. Now, I kind of have a little bit of a rule of thumb, if you like, when I'm doing highlights, I have always believed that less is more. So the lighter you go, the less you want to put on. And that's just a rule of thumb I tried to stand by. Obviously, every little painting is different, so, you know, but in a situation like this, you don't want to overpower the painting. And plus all the work you've done before that, you don't want to lose that with too much highlighting. So I'm really just adding in a small amount highlights here and there across the body, on each of the feathers, and even on the beak and the legs and things like that. Using the right brush just to really help things stand out better. And you can really see him start to pop off from these highlights. Now these are not my brightest whites thought amusing yet, I'm going to switch to that in a minute. You can see how just those tiny little hints of brushstrokes really make it look alive. So now I am using pure white for this particular brushstroke here. And I'm just going in, again, there's too many little globs of paint. I use my finger to just brush those away. They're not there anymore. And then I'm going in with my brightest white, pure titanium and just very lightly brushing in some highlights. And I'm doing this pretty much in the areas where my light source is going to be hitting the bird the most. So, particularly on the left side of the chest here, and his legs and obviously his forehead and beak area. They even added a few little wispy right where his leg connects to his sort of body just to give the illusion that has feathers are going over it. And his leg isn't just stuck on. And you can really see the good contrasts that we wanted to achieve throughout the painting process of the dark values versus the lights. This is why getting your value layer correct before you even worry about the details is so important because it really makes things pop, really makes them look 3D and just come to life. Now you'll see me tapping the paint after I've brushed on with my fingers. That is just to get rid of any excess, it kinda smashes it down. So it's not as bright, but it still gives the effect that I wanted to give. So you can use that technique as well. Just make sure you have no water or anything like that on your fingers because it will smart things. And now of course, the final little steps is to fill in the eye. And I'm actually going to be using pure black to fill in the eye. And you'll notice that with that white paint I was using just before I used it to fill a little bit of an eyelid in. So it stands out better. Just using a detail brush for this. So it's easier to get in there. And you can also use this pure black to fill in the darker areas around his face with a black feathers are just to really help define things further. And then obviously putting some highlights within the eye using white and on the peak as well. And of course his legs. And that pretty much concludes our Bud painting. The capo is all done at that point that in the highlights snow. So if you've come this far, Congrats, you've made a little cardinal. So now in the next classes, we are going to focus on painting that candy cane that he is holding. 8. The Candy Cane and Finishing Touches: Okay, so now we have finished our caudal, and now we are off to finish the painting by doing the candy cane. So you can see here I'm using a small wide flat brush and some pure white paint. I'm using just titanium paint. Nothing is mixed in with it. And I'm gonna start creating the base of my candy cane. So you see before I left a little bit of a gap where the candy cane was going to go, where he was perching on it. And so now I'm going to start really carefully drawing sort of the line, if you like, of the candy cane and sort of making the thickness of it. I'm going to have the candy cane curved away from the cardinal. I think, I think it would just suit the whole composition of the painting better. I didn't want this to be too thick of a candy cane. Don't worry if it looks a little wonky, it's fine. You can always perfect. If you want to touch up the cannon came later on. Such as speeding that up for you. Just really carefully drawing out the candy cane, getting the curve to look right, and then thickening up any areas that I want to have a bit thicker. Don't forget to put the little bits of pain in-between the bird's toes. Because obviously that would show through even though it's gonna get shaded a bit later on. It's just drawing out the line, trying to keep it as straight as possible. Sometimes it's a little hard to do straight off by AI, but it will look better when you go to shade it and add in the stripes. So now I'm taking a detail brush and some pure crimson red. And I'm going to start to paint these stripes in and I'm actually giving them a little bit of a curve. What I'm doing is a pattern of one thin line and one thick line close together to each other. So it gives that nice peppermint look to it. And I'm gonna do this up throughout the entire painting. Now, I will actually put in some different colors in their different shades of red just to give some alternating colors. And I'll go ahead and speak up for you as well. So now I am actually mixing a little bit of a pink, kind of red and putting that on top of the big stripe all throughout the painting. I'm also going to mix a darker sort of red and add in another stripe, sort of near in-between those two stripes as well. So you'll see that in just a second. Just filling in all the stripes of that light pink. It just gives a bit of variation to the candy cane. It won't be so noticeable, but it just is a nice touch. I think. And then washing out my detail brush and loading on the darker red. As you can see, it's the brush that I'm using. Just a really thin brush that I switched too, just to get those lines nice and thin. And so I'm putting this darker red just above the thick line on the candy cane. Don't worry if you aligns on perfect, it's really not going to be that noticeable, especially when all the shading, highlighting on the candy cane goes in itself. It's really not going to be that node sport at all. So I have just angle my camera down low so you can see that better. So you want to wait till back candy cane layer has dried before we move on to the shading part, which is this, I'm going in with my little flat brush again and I'm adding in some heavily watered down black to start to add into the shading process. And you can see me using my finger that helps much things out to keep it a little softer. It's not so harsh around the edges. Again, just like we did with the carbonyl, you want to think about how the light is going to affect the candy cane. So I'm shading more towards the right side of the candy cane itself. I am adding heavier shading towards the center of the candy cane because caudal is obviously purchasing this, that he will be blocking a lot of that light that might be shining through or shining on it. Especially shadow. The areas where his little feet are perched. And we're going to speed this up a little bit for you. Just because I think you get the just we're just adding light layers of Black Hawk Down paint to create that depth that we're looking for in the candy cane itself. And just keep adding as many as he layers as you need until you're happy with it. You don't add too many because you want to start Hell is a candy cane. So the next thing we're gonna do is I'm gonna take my detail brush and some pure white. And we're actually going to add a long line of white down the canvas will die mechanic even to give a shiny highlight because candy canes are in fact shiny. And again a little bit in the center. And of course remember to think about how that light will affect the, can't talk to them candy cane there where it curves around over the edge. And so now what I'm doing is I'm taking the edge of my flat brush and I'm just starting to redefine some of the stripes. I will go in in a minute with the detail brush and do the red stripes as well. Just in case you lost any of the colors in the shading process, this is going to help the Kenny came to really stand out. You don't want to overdo this because you don't want to lose that shading that we've just done. But at the same time you want to help the stripes stand out. So you can tell, obviously it's a candy cane, but you can tell the colors of the candy cane. Any last minute details that you want to do on the candy cane or even the bird itself you can do now, as you can see, I'm going in with a detail brush to sort of highlight some of the little areas of the clause on the bird and make him stand out better from the shadows of the candy cane. So that will conclude everything for this little cardinal painting class, I hope you had some fun and enjoy the process and perhaps learned some new techniques as well. I look forward to seeing your little cardinal paintings that feel free to do any kind of Cardinal that you want. You can have them with different things such as appoint Satya or even a Christmas tree, ornament, whatever you would prefer and enjoy better. So that will be everything. If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a review and asked me anything as well. I'll be happy to look at those. So I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas season and I will see you soon.