Paint a Macaw with Watercolor Pencils | LaVonne | Skillshare

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Paint a Macaw with Watercolor Pencils

teacher avatar LaVonne, Artist, Illustrator

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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 (57m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. First Layer of Watercolor Pencils

    • 3. First Water Wash

    • 4. Second Layer of Watercolor Pencils

    • 5. Second Water Wash

    • 6. Third Layer of Watercolor Pencils

    • 7. Third Water Wash

    • 8. Fourth Layer of Watercolor Pencils

    • 9. Fourth Water Wash

    • 10. Assignment

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About This Class

You will learn how to use watercolor pencils to create a beautiful, colorful macaw!

Supplies you will need:

Pencil, Eraser

Pencil Sharpener

Watercolor Paper

Watercolor Pencils

Paint Brushes


I used a reference photo from Pixabay that you can find here:

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image


Artist, Illustrator


Hello, I'm LaVonne. I have been drawing since I was very young. I love creating things -  drawing, painting, sculpting - as long as I am creating something, I feel content.

I have worked as a Graphic Designer as well as an Art Director at an advertising agency. I look forward to sharing my knowledge on Skillshare!

Some of my favorite mediums to work with are ink pen, colored pencils, pastel pencils and Procreate app on my iPad.

Follow me on Instagram  or Facebook to see my latest artistic endeavors.

See full profile

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1. Introduction : Hello and welcome to the class painting a macaque with watercolor pencils. In this class, I will show you step-by-step how to create this beautiful macaque. You can find a link to the reference photo in the class description. For this class, you will need a pencil, eraser, watercolor pencils, watercolour, paper, brushes, and some water. So grab your supplies and let's start painting. 2. First Layer of Watercolor Pencils: Let's get started. The first thing that I did was I used a pencil to sketch the macaws onto the watercolor paper. I have the reference photo on my iPad. I flipped the orientation of the picture just because I prefer it that way. So you can draw it either way they're facing this way or facing that way, whichever one you prefer. So draw with a very light pencil. I used a 2B pencil for the sketch. Because you don't want to use a dark pencil because on the lighter colors of the watercolor, you would be able to see the, the pencil marks. So you want to avoid that and draw as lightly as possible, but still be able to see what you have drawn. And after you've done that, you can use any racer to then go back in and lighten it. Even a little more. Like I said, you want to be able to see it, but you don't want it to show up when you put the watercolor onto the paper. So I'm just going to use the kneaded eraser and just kind of pick up the pencil marks so that it's just very, very faint like that. So now I can still see it, but it's not really dark. Alright, now the next thing is we are going to start laying down the colors that you see in the reference photo. Now we're not going to go into detail just yet. This is just very basic laying down of the foundation colors. So we will use the pencils. I am using the HDR went watercolor pencils. I have a set of 36. So if you have a different set, that's, that's fine. Just pick a color that closely matches the color in the reference photo. It doesn't have to be exact. We are going to be very light with this first wash and we can adjust later. So I'm going to choose this emerald green. And very, very, very lightly. Start putting down the colors onto your paper. You don't want to use a very heavy pressure at this point. Similar to watercolor, if you're familiar with working with tubes of watercolour paint or the little, what are they called, the blocks of watercolor. Similar to that, we're going to work in stages in washes. So we're going to put the first wash down. It's going to be very light. So with the watercolor pencil, you want to work very, very lightly at first. And then we're going to build on that later. So at this stage, like I said, we're going to put a very light wash of all of the colors that you see in the reference photo. So that's what we're doing now. Just very light pressure using the colors that closely match what you see in your reference photo. And just very lightly placing them in there. For the blue I'm going to use at first the king fisher blue. And again, very, very light pressure that I'm using, very light pressure and slight circular motions to do this. If you're just going back and forth, back and forth, that that might not blend when when we add the water. So if you're using a slight circular motion, it will blend nicely when we add the water. Now I'm going to move to the yellow, the lemon cadmium I'm going to use for the yellow. So the same applies for this section. Very light circular motions. With watercolor and watercolor pencil, you want to work from light to dark. So apply all of your lighter colors. And then as we add more washes, we can darken them in as we go. So keep in mind at first this is going to be very, very light, very even pressure, very light even pressure to get our first wash down. So I'm going to add. All of the yellow area and, and then we will work on the beak next. But let's, let's get this yellow N. All right, I have the yellow n. And at this point, if you're still seeing some of the darker pencil marks, it's not too late. You can go in with your eraser, enlighten those up. Because like I said, if we start out in water, it will go over those pencil marks and then at that point you won't be able to erase them. So let's do that. Now. Lighten up the pencil marks in this yellow area because we don't want them to show when we add the water. Okay, now we will move on to the beach area. And again, the beak is pretty dark, but we're going to build on that. So at first we're just going to put a very light gray wash down. So we'll just put a very like we did in the other sections of very light gray in the beak area. I'm going to use gun metal for that. And if you will notice on the reference photo, there's a very light light, bluish area here. I'm not going to put the government ongoing on to only put it where the darker gray areas are. Very, very light pressure. Circular motion. Get this grey pencil down here in the big area. Okay, so we have the beak area in there. I am also going to use the gun metal gray for these feathers here underneath the beak. So I'm going to continue using this color and all of this area. Now something you might want to keep in mind, the direction of these feathers in this area. I will then, in circular motions, use the pencil in the direction of those feathers. And that will help us out in the long run as we are doing these washes. So keep in mind direction while you're where you're putting the first layer of colors down. So we'll do that in this area. Alright, I have that area. And now, and you'll notice that I left the area of the beak. That is light. I left that light. And now I'm going to use that king fisher blue, just very, very lightly. Light as I possibly can. Add some of that into this big area. Very, very slight. Light feather, touch, circular motion. Get some of that blue in there. That should be fine. Okay. I will go back to the gun metal gray and we'll start working then. And just very lightly for now, put in the little feathers that come out of his eye area. Like I said, is just very, very light marks for now. We can darken them later if we need to adjust the size and things like that. But for right now, we're just we're getting placeholders in there pretty much for this. And then I will also do around the eye and the center of the eye with the gun metal. Okay. I have those feathers in the eye area. Just like I said, very lightly as a placement, I have the center of the eye now and now I am going to use grass green. And again, feather light, touch. Just go around the pupil. Nothing, nothing too dark. Okay. Now that you have that complete, it will look something like this. It doesn't look very impressive. You're thinking What the heck. But trust me, as you work on those layers and as you work on the washes, it will build up and it's going to be amazing. So at this point, if it looks like this and you're going, wow, this looks like a sixth grader. That's alright. It won't stay that way for long. We just have the very light layer of the pencils and that's what we're going to use for our first wash. So in the next section we're going to use our brushes and water. And we're going to turn this into a water color painting. 3. First Water Wash: Now we're getting to the exciting part where we get to add water. And I will use different sizes of brushes at first for these larger areas, I'll use a larger brush and then for the smaller areas, I will use a much smaller brush. So you want to use very clean water and choose your brush, dip it in the water, can tap off any excess. And we're going to begin circular motions and just start activating that water colored pencil paint. Continue to add water once you see there feel that that is getting dry. Just continue in the circular motions. And it'll activate that first layer of watercolor pencil that we put down. And you'll see as it moves to the next colour, how it starts to blend. And that's what you want. That's what this is going to do. And That's what's going to make it look like a watercolor painting, which it is, it's just instead of the paints, it's the pencil. That's the thing that I like about the watercolor pencil. As you, you can't get more precise with it. And it doesn't just spread out and go. Willy-nilly sometimes like watercolor tends to, for me, that gets a little frustrating. So with the watercolor pencil, you can add it in a more precise area. And then using a small brush, you can control that a little bit more. And I like that personally, but it's just a matter of personal preference. So you just continue and remember what I said earlier about the direction. So these feathers go in this direction. So I'm going to kind of wash in that direction. Like so. And I will continue doing this throughout the whole painting. And I will show you what that looks like when I'm done. Now for the lines in the eye area, I'm going to use a much smaller brush and not a lot of water. So I would dip in the water and tap off excess and just very lightly activate the feathers that we put in there. Again, we will darken these up later as we go. You don't want to go dark right away. You want to be very, very light at first and then we will keep adding to make it darker as we go. Because if you make it dark right away, you cannot make it lighter. And I just used way too much water. If that happens, you get a paper towel and just SOP that up. No harm. Just keep working up. Dab my brush off. I had way too much water on there. So it's OK. No no worries at this point where we're working light. And so it's very easy to correct at this point. So just activate those fine hairs that are not hairs fine feathers that you got in this area. And also the nostril. Well, at this pressure, strangely picks up a lot of water much more than the bigger brush. So I have to you have to be cognizant of that, of how much water that you have on your brush. If it's too much, it will pothole like that and you may or may not want that to happen. So depending on on the effect that you want, you have to be aware of how much water you're your brushes holding. And for this area, I do not want that that water to spread it. This is a very precise area and as i, so I'm going to use the napkin and just kind of dab it. So when I activate and dab it again, when I activate it, it won't puddle. So there that is what the very first wash will look like. It's very light, it's very subtle, not super impressive at this point, but we're going to keep going and work on building the layers and it will get impressive. Trust me. So at this point, your work will look something like this. And let's move on to the next wash. After this dries completely, let this dry completely. Don't be like me, don't be impatient because if you start adding pencil to this wet wash that we just put down, that may or may not be what the desired effect is. And at this point, for me, no, we don't want to do that. So we want to let this dry completely. 4. Second Layer of Watercolor Pencils : Okay, then now that the paper is completely dry From the first wash. We're going to continue and we're going to start adding detail. So I'll start in this area here. And if you look at your reference photo, you can see some of the variations of the colors. It's kind of more of a yellowish green and the front and then it gets darker. So for the front area, I'm going to use a grass green. It has a little bit more yellow in it. So we're going to just gently start making some feathers strokes in that area like that. And again, we're going to continue to build up on this. So we're not gonna get too detailed at this point, but we're gonna start adding just, just slight, slight details. So then the next area of green is a little darker. So I'm going to use the mineral Green and I'm going to sharpen this. Use one of these sharpeners that has multiple holes for different sizes and find the hole that suits your pencil the best and will get a nice sharp point on it. And we will continue then to make the short feathers strokes in the green area. And here's what the green area looks like. And you'll notice that I followed the reference photo and follow the direction of the feathers. And then we'll use the king fisher blue again and start adding the short strokes throughout all of the blue area, throughout all of the entire body and neck and all of this. So I will do that right now. You will notice in your reference photo that in this area it has the longer feathers. So instead of the small strokes, we can go ahead and use the pencil to sketch in some of the larger feather areas like this with the pencil. And then where the smaller feathers are, you can just start to make small strokes to start creating that effect. That will look like the feathers laying on top of the feathers. Nothing too detailed at this point. Just very rough, rough area of where these are going to go. Nothing super precise, but we do want to start setting that up. For later. So I'll continue to do that in this area. So when you're finished, it will look a little something like that. And then I will use the gun metal gray to do the same thing in the feather area underneath his face here, these darker feathers, again, following the pattern in the reference photo. No need to be exact as long as you get the idea that these feathers are layering on there, that's what you want. You don't have to be precise and exact with this. It's kind of going to be like a loose watercolor pencil. But not the, the flowing kind, like, like regular watercolor paints. So it's a little more precise. But what I'm saying, I guess is you don't have to match exactly the reference photo. You can just get the idea that these feathers are layering and layering in here. And that will give us the effect that we want. So I'm going to do that with these feathers in the neck area. And it will look like that. And now we'll move to the beak area. And since these aren't feathers, This is more of a solid beak, will go back to the circular light pressure to dark in this and a bit. And you can see in the reference photo that there are light areas, so you want to leave those lighter when you go back in with this next layer. So leave leave a light area like, like that. And also at the bottom, there's a light area so you don't want to make that any darker. Because once you make something dark, it's very, very hard to get it lighter again. So just be aware of that when you're using these pencils to leave light areas, light, if need be, and you need to make them darker later. That's great. But if you go dark, it's very hard to lift that off. So just be aware of that when you're adding your pencil. So light circular motions, let's, let's start darkening this beak. And so I will continue throughout the whole beak. And this is what that will look like. And you can see that I didn't add any more pencil to the lighter areas and the areas that I know are going to be very dark. I used a little bit more pressure because that will ultimately be pretty dark. So I know that we'll be able to add more pressure to make that dark. So now we would continue and do the same for the feathers that we already had originally put in the facial area. But we're going to darken those in a little bit more. Like so. Not too much pressure. But we do want to darken those more. And same thing. With the dark areas in the eye. We would darken those a little bit more. Okay. I have added that and the facial area, and now the last is the yellow, but you'll see that it's also orange in this area. So we will use the yellow, which I believe was the lemon cadmium, and then will also move on to a pencil that has a little bit more orange into it, which is the deep cadmium. And we will start adding the feathers strokes in there like that. The same that we did for this area here. So we'll start getting some of that orange in there. And some of the areas that are quite feathers. You can use the circular motion to add that orange. And then areas where its feathers you use the short strokes. So I'm layering that lemon cadmium and deep cadmium to get some color variation in the feathers. And then also, I want to point out that I also used that deep cadmium up into where the darker feathers are, and then also down into where the blue feathers are. And then we'll be able to kind of blend those in for some variation. And that's about it for the second layer. And now we'll be ready to wash that out with the brushes in the next section. 5. Second Water Wash: So for this second wash, I'm going to use my bigger brush. Let's tap and wipe off some of the excess water and just gently drag it across the brush stroke. I mean, I'm sorry, the pencil strokes that we had just made. And it will begin to blend those n, but still leaving a little bit of detail. And that's what we want. Just follow the direction of the feathers and get some water on the strokes that we just made with a pencil. And continue doing that all the way down and into the areas that we just created. And you will notice as you're working, you will get used to the pressure in the amount of water. And if you want to blend it a little bit more, you use more water and more pressure. And you can blend the two colors together like that. If you use too much water and too much pressure, it will completely wash out the details that you just created. If that's the look you want, that's fine. Just experiment with it. Again. Start with less water and light pressure to see the effect that you want. And if you want to wash it out a bit more, you can add more water and more pressure at that point. And now you can see the feathers, they're starting to take more shape and form and the colors are starting to brighten up. And that's what we want. And now we'll move to the beak area. And since really there's no direction like the feathers so to speak, we're going to use more of a circular motion with this wash with the brush, like so. So i will continue and do the entire beak with this technique of the circular motions with the wet brush. And I will show you what that looks like when I'm finished. And here's what we have with the beak after the second wash. And so we'll continue with the facial feathers. Not too much water. And just wet the pencil strokes that you just laid down and get that second wash in those facial feathers. All right. Our second wash is complete and now we are going to let that thoroughly dry. And then we can continue building with the pencils in the next section. 6. Third Layer of Watercolor Pencils : Now that that is dry, we will continue with the same process of building up the layers and the colors. So I'm going to use May Green. And again with the short strokes of the feathers in this upper area of the head. Just add some color in there with the pencil. And with the emerald green. Continuing the small feathers strokes. And you can start to use a little bit of harder pressure where you know the areas are going to be darker. Start to get some depth. And the feather area. And back to the king fisher, blue for the blue area of the head and down into the back, and also in the wing area. So I will do that off camera and show you when it's finished. I am adding some mineral green into the top of the wing here because that's the color that's showing in the reference photo. There's some, some green up in the wing here. And also where the yellow meets the blue, there's some green so we can add that in right here as well. And then I'm also going to use the mineral green here, where the green is a bit darker. So we'll add some feathers strokes into that area as well. We'll also darken up this area in front of his face here by the beak. And now I'm going to start introducing some more orange. In this section of the feathers I'll use orange. Chrome will go kind of light so that it doesn't get too dark. We don't want it too dark. So will very lightly add some orange into there. And then also in this area, I'll be adding the deep cadmium as well so that we can get a pretty vibrant yellowish orange going in this area. And continuing with this deep cadmium so we can get the bright yellow mixed with the orange as well. And I will also brighten up this area down here with the deep cadmium as well. And with a deep cadmium, I'm going to make the circular motion with a very light pressure to kind of make a more, more solid color in there instead of, instead of the strokes will get some solid yellow areas in there. And also down here, under his by his neck here. More and more solid more solid color. Next, we'll work on the neck area with the gun metal. And we're going to build up these darker areas here to show the layering of the feathers. So we'll do that in the same way. A mixture of solid strokes with, with some of the first knot for the feathers strokes, the small feathers strokes, and then some of the more, more solid circular motion as well. So we can start building that up. Look like the feathers are layering on his neck. And now we get to this portion of the neck feathers. And you can see that there's some slight other colors in here besides the gray and the orange and yellow. I'm going to use a made green. And just to help add some, some color variation into that, I'm going to add some of those feathers strokes into here as well. Then we'll go back to the gun metal and start working again in the circular motions to help darken up the beak area in this section. So I'll work on this. And also in this, in this same technique, the circular motions to start darkening some of these areas up. And the areas on your reference photo, you see that, you know, are going to be extremely dark. You can start using harder pressure to darken dark in those areas and especially in his mouth area here, there are some pretty dark areas so we can use darker pressure. Same with the I. Still using this gun, metal grey. We're not going to go to black just yet. In the nostril area, we can add some darker gun metal. In the beak area. You want to leave some of it lighter from where you had before. And that'll help add the texture and the variation that you want. And some areas you can, you can do to darker. And that way when we use the water, it will create a very nice, interesting texture there. And then also, these are eventually are going to be very dark. So we can, we can start using darker pressure to get the shape of these feathers now on a space a little more darker than what we had before. But like I said, Do it in washes and layers. And that will help create the variation in, in, create a texture. So I will go ahead and finish darkening in these feathers that are here on his face. I'll do that and I'll be right back. 7. Third Water Wash: Okay, now that we have added the pencil for the next layer and for the next wash. We're going to start adding the water. And you will see it starting to brighten up and really start taking, taking shape. So just very gently, not too much water, but enough to, to blend them. Just start going over the pencil that you just laid down to activate the watercolor pencil. And we'll go and strokes that match the flow of the feather pattern, which, which would be that way. And I will just continue doing this off camera. And I will show you when I'm done with this feather area. Alright, I have used the water to apply to the pencil on the feather and the neck area and is back and now it's time for the beak. And for this, I'm going to use this circular motion and blend in all of the pencil that we just laid down. And remember there's light areas. They really wanted to leave light, So don't work the paint into those areas and you can see how that it it leaves them light like that and that's what we want. We want a lot of nice gray variations in here. In the beak, like so. So Src, quick circular motions. Scribble the pencil around, but don't go into the little light areas that you want to remain to be light. And like I said, this is a matter of experimenting to see how much pressure and how much water that you need to use or want to use depending on your desired outcome. So it's up to you use, use creativity, use your own imagination and just experiment with this. As far as water and brush pressure. And you'll be able to get it to look the way that you want it to look. And it may take a few times too, to create this particular piece of work. You might have to do it two or three times before you get one piece that you actually like and that's OK. Nothing says that you have to do it. Why ensign? That's it. You can do this as many times as you like. And like I said, just experiment and have fun with this. That's the most important part. That's how you build your technique and your style by just, by experimenting. So now we're going to go back over the feathers on his face or her face and not sure if this is male or female. Macaws are the same color regardless. So just do the feathers on the base. And these kind of taper at the end. So you can use, you can use the brush to create that tapering effect, the water and just pull it like that. Okay, and just like all of the other previous layers, we are going to let this dry completely and keep going. 8. Fourth Layer of Watercolor Pencils : This layer is dry now, before we move forward with laying more color down and intensifying that, let's go in and add these light details in the face of the bird like the skin wrinkles, I guess that's what they are. Let's do that now. So I'm going to use the gun metal gray. And I'm going to get a really sharp point on my tensile like that. And then I will just very faintly start to dry in the details of those, those wrinkles in the bird space. Just very lightly. Random. Random wrinkles like that. No need to be super precise, but get them in the right direction and kind of the right, the right shapes that you see on your reference photo. And just get some some wrinkles going in there to help add some detail. I'm going to go ahead and do that off camera. I'll be right back. Okay. So we got those in now. You can see they're just very faint, very light. We'll, we'll leave those there like that for now. And now. I'm going to start working in this neck area. And this is where you just have to be very careful and very gentle because this is going to be pretty dark. So you'll have to pay attention to where you're adding these pencil marks. And you want to get them so that it, it looks like the feathers are layering on top of the feathers. So this is actually the shadow of the feathers, but then some of the lines go up into the feather above it. So we're going to try to emulate that. So we'll get some dark shadows like this. Then we can use the pencil to create some of the fine marks that go up into the feather above it. And like I said, we'll just use the reference photo to do that and use the pattern that you already had created. And like I said, it doesn't have to match exactly your reference photo as long as you get the idea down on the paper, it will, it will, it will look good. The idea that, you know, there's, there's feathers on top of feathers. And that these are the shadows of the feathers. So we're going to create that idea right now with the gun metal gray. And we're going to get those shadows and these fine feathers, the marks that go up from the other Feathers, if that makes sense. So I'm going to do that for the whole neck area. I'll be right back. I'm also using the light circular motions to, to start adding some of this gray into the shadow areas here so that when we use the water, it will make this a bit darker, but we're gonna leave some light here too, so that it creates that overlapping effect. Now we're going to continue using the pencils to intensify the colors in the orange and green and blue areas. So just continue again. Light pressure, adding some more of this rich orange color into the yellow feathers. And then I'll also use the deep cadmium to brighten up the yellow as well. So with those two colors, we're going to, we're going to really get this yellow to pop. So I will go do this area and I will go to this area and I'll be right back. Okay, I got some more pencil laid down in these two areas. And now I am going to continue then with the blue area and then the green of the head. Just continue to lay down some more layers of watercolor pencil. You can use light to medium pressure because we are starting to intensify this. Now you're not covering the whole, entire area really hard. That's not going to give you any variation. But if there are some areas where you'd like to press a little harder, that's okay. We want, we want some of this variation now, so we're going to have the lighter layers that we have. And then we're going to have some of these very intense layers in that, that's going to give it texture and a lot of character. So I will continue on then like that. And I will be right back in the blue area. I am going to use the king fisher blue, but I'm also going to introduce some of this Jid green into here. It's kind of a, a greenish blue. So that should give it some interesting texture. So we'll see how that goes. We'll just use the fine, sorry. We'll use some of the fine strokes to add add the feather area into this back and had a wing. So I will do that. I'm going to use, like I said, the jade green and the king fisher blue. So that is finished. We intensified with the pencil all of these areas. And now the last part is to continue on with the gradual darkening of the beak area. So again, with the slight circular motions will add another layer onto this area. Now that is finished. I started getting some of the grooves that are in the beak, the suggestions of the grooves. And now in the next section we're going to use the water and do another wash. 9. Fourth Water Wash: Let's add the water to this layer. So I'm going to use the bigger brush and swipe. And these colors should now really start to intensify. Yes, look at that. Magical. I will continue adding the water to all of the feathers and also circular motions in the beak. I will do that and I'll be back. Right. I wanted to show you what I'm doing in this area here because this part is a little trickier because you're working with the darker colors and you can see where we added the light gray there. So I'm going to just very gently without using a whole lot of water, just very gently pull that down. But I'm going to leave the white area, not white, but the, the lighter areas at the tip of that feather because that's, that's how they look. And the reference photo. And that's what's going to give the illusion of the layering. So you can see how I did that. I just kind of stopped where the light gray is so that we don't blend that all the way down and make it any darker so that it leaves that nice area. The tips of these. Now we can go in and, and very, very gently put some feathers, strokes like that. What we really want to leave, some lighter ridges, so to speak, around the bottoms of these feathers. So that's how I am doing that. All of the water has been applied to all of the pencil that we had just laid down. So, you know, the drill, let it dry completely and we will move on them into the next step. 10. Assignment : Your assignment should you choose to accept it, is to create your very own McAuliffe using watercolor pencils and the techniques that I showed you in the videos. Be sure to post your project. In the project section, I would love to see what you've created. Also, you can find me on Instagram at art by Lavon. You can also post your artwork that you've created from my classes there. Thank you again for watching the class and as always, have fun.