Painting Nature's Textures in Watercolor: Fluffy Duckling | Aura Lesnjak | Skillshare

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Painting Nature's Textures in Watercolor: Fluffy Duckling

teacher avatar Aura Lesnjak, Watercolor & Mixed Media Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

9 Lessons (57m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Lesson 1 - First Wash

    • 3. Lesson 2 - Head Feathers

    • 4. Lesson 3 - Neck and Chest Feathers

    • 5. Lesson 4 - Wing and Body Feathers

    • 6. Lesson 5 - Final Feather Details

    • 7. Lesson 6 - The Beak

    • 8. Lesson 7 - Feet and Shadow

    • 9. Conclusion and Next Steps

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About This Class

Hello! My name is Aura Lesnjak, and I love to paint with watercolor, acrylics, colored pencils, and often a mix of all of the above. I have been painting with watercolor for nearly 20 years, and selling my prints and originals for a decade.

I have always loved drawing and painting animals, and in this course I will show you how to paint a fluffy duckling using a limited palette.

This is the first course in a series I am calling “Painting Nature’s Textures in Watercolor” and I have two other courses I will be working on for Skillshare, which are rough stacked stones and shiny currants.

 In this duckling painting, I will show you how to achieve hard and soft edges to create the texture of both the defined and the soft, downy feathers. You will also learn how to paint with the wet-on-dry and wet-in-wet methods.

You will learn:

  • Wet-in-Wet Watercolor Painting
  • Wet-on-Dry Watercolor Painting
  • How to Use Water and Paint to Create Texture
  • How to Mix Dynamic Colors
  • How to Use a Limited Palette
  • How to create Depth by Layering Colors
  • How to Use These Techniques on Other Animal Paintings

I included the link to the royalty-free photo reference, a recommended supplies list, as well as an outline I made that you can print and trace for your own painting.

My aim for you in this class is to learn how to paint fluffy feathers with more confidence, and apply it to your other paintings of birds and even furry animals. 

I am really looking  forward to seeing your projects, so let’s get started with this duckling painting!


Fluffy Duckling Watercolor Supplies List
Copyright-Free Reference Photo and Outline: Duckling Photo

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Aura Lesnjak

Watercolor & Mixed Media Artist


I am a self-taught artist, and I have been making art for as long as I can remember. I have been painting in watercolors for over 20 years, and I have sold originals, prints and commissions around the world.

Although I work fluently in many mediums (watercolors, colored pencils, acrylics, oil paints, and mixed media) my art all expresses a love of color, the natural world, and (quite often) the fantastical and unexpected.

As much as I am in love with creating, I also have a passion for guiding others through the learning process, and helping them to develop skills that will enable them to show their hearts, calm their minds, and enrich their lives.

I am super excited to be sharing my projects and processes on Skillshare!

See My Tuto... See full profile

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1. Introduction : Hello, My name is or a lesson Jack and I am a self taught artist specializing in water color. I have been painting for over 20 years and selling my prints and originals for over a decade. I've always loved drawing and painting animals, and even when I experimented and did other media and other subjects, I always keep coming back to animals, my style of watercolor painting. Whether I'm painting realistic or imaginative flowers, animals or figures, they almost always include bold use of color, a lot of contrast and usually a lot of transparent glazing to build up deep, rich, bold colors. In this course, I will show you how to paint a fluffy duckling and water colors using a limited palette. This is the first course in a Siri's I'm calling painting nature's textures and water color . At the time of this filming, I'm working on two other courses for skill share. One of them will show you how to achieve the rough speckled texture of stones, and the other will show you how to create shiny red corrupts. In this duckling watercolor lesson, I will show you how to achieve hard and soft edges to create the texture of both defined and the soft downy feathers. You'll also learn how to paint both the wet on dry and the wet in wet method of water color paint. In this course, I'm including the link to the copyright free photo, the outline that you can download and trace, as well as a recommended supplies list for your class project. You can either follow along with this duckling, or you can create your own bird or fluffy animal of your choosing. My aim for you in this class is to learn how to paint fluffy feathers with more confidence . I'm really looking forward to seeing your finished projects, so let's get started with the duckling painting. 2. Lesson 1 - First Wash: Before I start the duckling painting, I'm going to start by making a watery puddle of new Gamboa, which is the warm yell Jeon palette. Then, after completely rinsing, I'm applying just water to the head, being careful not to get water on the area. Light amount of yellow on my brush. Just you can see where I am in the water. Once a Harry A is completely wet, I just brush into that wet area and the water the pigment out of my brush. This helps make a really nice soft transition. It also helps avoid any hard edges that you might see if you just applied it to the dry paper after blood in my brush a bit, I'm just very lightly feathering out the paint into that height air top again, keeping it very mostly water and very little picker. Afternoon. My brush. I'm just adding plain water to the chest area in this first wash of the duckling memory wet one section at a time. Otherwise the water would drive me where I could add a water colors to it. Painting wet on wet at this stage is very important for achieving that day. Feathery look this little dabbing, technically that fluffy texture, since some of the pigment will stay where it's placed and you'll see that the dryer, the birth of more the pigment will settle. And with the heads on to dry off a bit, I going back and adding a little bit texture there than was there before. The paint won't spread quite as much. I'm going toe wet the rest of the body now and just going to dab where the yellow is generally the dist and leave the highlighted areas much less concentrated. You'll see that I'm adding war only where I want the pain to go. Gonna leave the wing alone. So I want to keep that straight in the middle of the wing to help it stand out from the rest of the body again. After adding the water just gonna dab the yellow paint where Watson traded, and some it is the papers a little bit drier. It will stay more concentrated in one spot, and where Wegter especially worry just it will spread out a little bit more. It takes some practice to get to know how things going to behave based on how much water you're using. So just keep that in mind as you try painting this little duckling again, feathering out some of that paint. No pun intended to help bring out some of that texture. If I were to paint this doing on just dry paper and made it look all unified in shade and color, you're not get the same fluffy, uh, four feet, - the papers still wet all over the duckling. So I'm just gonna keep dabbing in that paint wherever I wanted to spread a little bit. It's to keep building up the texture you can see on the body that it's spreading a little bit more than I had wanted. So I'm just gonna come back to it as the pain starts to dry a bit. Did you try to bring that texture back in the next video? I'll show you how to add even more definition to the head feathers 3. Lesson 2 - Head Feathers: My first wash of yellow feathers is now dry, so I'm going to start painting the I. I'm mixing French ultra Marine with pirouette orange and a very small amount of new GAM bows to get my nearly black color. I just keep making small adjustments to get it the tone I want. Using my small detail brush, I'm painting the eye on dry paper. Miss Immigrants Photo It is starting with the outer with my papers very dry, but which I'm Jill have to come fix that. Starting with some of the shadowy feather colors, this golden was made just by make my new gambo with feather color with a viral orange. I'm following my reference just to add this worries that there is. But I am being careful to paint just small strokes in the direction of the feathers. I mean my brush and then blotting it a bit, dragging some of that color down and helping it fade into an optician into the lighter. Yet I'm seasons as a guide, but I'm not concerned with making the painting. I want to add just enough feather detail to give that for man without making it look fussy or overworked, which can very easily so in some air. After I laid down the pain over my brush, hated out to give more of soft impression. Do you want some hard edges? Don't want hard edges everywhere. Japes I'm making. It's like I'm painting with a negative pain tick, so I'm painting on the shapes of the lighter feather. It could be a little tricky if you're not used to just take your time and go section Just being careful. Try to go in the direction of the first. Now I'm just paint waiting right around that I string really settled gentle flicks with a brush spread that peace out onto the dry paper along the base of the bill where there's some more shadow. I'm using a lighter Shipman Brown and I just achieved that by adding slightly more water. Painting Writer radical really trying to do really dark paint said. I want that to bleed onto the fit. You can see him leaving slightly yellow line by paying brought to the eye but not quite up to the I and I'm gardening that intercourse tiny bit of that black mixture to the golden brown mixture and that will just help give you a more deficient, a little bit more them to the look of the There's right on top of the head thing again on dry paper and very quickly play damn parish from the paint onto the that just to smooth transition. How I achieved that one hard at edge. It's still want the top of the head toe look left. So it's really about balancing beaches in soft edges in this little duckling, enough to give feather detail. Look to ridge, everyone. I'm just repeating the process here of point out to the top of the head and feeding it at. We'll paint under to damp brush again. Just pull it away and smooth it out once those larger areas have been established with the shadows, I'm just going to go in between the bigger shapes and add a little bit more detail with a lighter tone, because I don't want them to be too dark and take attention away from the other dark areas because I don't want it to look too busy. Some areas I will darken those shadows a bit, and I'm just trying to balance everything out between the shadows. The mid tones and highlights, and I'm dipping back into my new GAM bows, just deepening some of that initial yellow color right here along the neck. I did Prewett the area bit so I can get more of that soft transition because that's just the shadow between the neck and the head that I wanted to establish, doing some more negative painting around that neck area to bring out some more of those lighter feathers. And in the next lesson, I'll be painting more of the neck and chest feathers. 4. Lesson 3 - Neck and Chest Feathers: in this video, I'll show you how I painted that in chest feathers. I first Prewett a narrow area. It's where I wanted to have a soft and a hard edge right next to each other. You can see that I'm defining the feathers on the left hand side with the negative painting and softened them on the right. I'm letting that paint bleed into the watery area. As I mentioned in the previous videos, it's really about getting a balance between the soft edges and the hard edges to help achieve a realistic, three dimensional yet soft and fluffy look of the little duckling area. Again, rate those first to find feathers, and I'm kind of repeating the process. But on this area, because there's a highlight on the front of the chest. I want to be much more about my feather strokes and still referring to my reference photo to approximate the same direction of the feathers. I don't want them to be to you form. I also don't want them to look to unrealistic either. Here he went, that area is a bit again. I brushed at a little bit of that detail. It's a watery mix of that shadow color, burying the intensity of that letter and the prime my brush, I could achieve some of that subtle, fluffy texture. I'm also going to soften some of those feathers shadows that I made just so that it's not so hard. I'm gonna start painting that shadow writer. It's the same carries on the head, then gambles mixed with solando. - There's more hard edges here, right around the wing, so I'm painting it wet on dry and after that shock hiding phone color, - I'm just building up some more of those shadow colors on that chest. After I blended them out, I realized it still needed a little bit more definition. So just adding another layer of that shatter the papers, still slightly softening the right side, just using my plane damn brush, no paint on it and dragging some of that color out to the very bottom. In the next video, we'll focus more on the wing and body feathers 5. Lesson 4 - Wing and Body Feathers: So now I'm going to be focusing on the wing and body feathers. I sped up the video a little bit here, so I'm just using a thicker mix of my new GAM bows right here along the back. I Prewett the area. I'm still trying to be cognizant of that highlight along the back, so I'm just gently sweeping that yellow mix right up into that area in keeping it nice and soft. I'm just sweeping my brush in the direction of the first Zuma to brush that slightly damaged that that edge along the bottom stamping that were behind them. And it'll makes color of new Cairo orange. Do you, right behind wing there to start the shadows to make the wings stand out. Little flicking motions amusing with the brush just helped to accentuate that texture of the soft, downy feathers and mixing up a little bit of that darker golden brown with that black mix to make a medium dark brown. What is this for? The darkest shadows right along the bottom is in the reference photo. These feathers are one of the best areas of the duck, and just like before, making short leave the shape of lighter feathers by negative painting on them, that just painting around the areas that you want to show. As the first began, Um, I'm using my damn brought a smooth out those harder edges on the button. And then there is, in my detail brush to sweep down a bit of the feather texture along the bottom away. Right now that shadow area lanes. But it will all come to now. Pre wedding video Acti bottom area and my darker shades here is smooth and blend out and look a little bit more soft. - I'm just using the restaurant into that body area to believe more fully accentuate of the latter feathers on top of the dark shadow feathers. When my papers still damp, I am adding a little bit more of that thicker pigment to deepen the look of those shadows. Some chest area balance that out around the rest of the dead body atones where it makes sense where the shadows are some light strokes in front of wing that's on dry paper. And then, using that slide warmer brown on the wing itself and behind the wing, where the shadows are stark as they are in front. - Now I'm Prue in our area below the wing and adding more of that darker Schiller. I wanted to blend out and not look so sharp. Um, Ali pay attention to the direction of the feather growth and then using the tone along the back half of I'm just accentuate ings of the regular feather texture. It's not really sure, but there is a lack of definition there makes that looks look on balanced from the front half. So just on dry paper, making all strokes again and blending them out here with my clean, damp round on the tail of the area that I'm adding, some of that new GAM bows again wrapping technique, which really helps extra weight, that fluffy texture. Then the light little strokes along the back. Without highlighting, that's on dry paper. I'm adding a little bit more of a subtly dark golden brown, just at a little bit more definition and dimension in those feathers 6. Lesson 5 - Final Feather Details: I'm mixing up more of my plane. New gambo sh Slightly thicker consistency and I'm just making little brush strokes over the dry paper. Just increase a little bit of that texture. National Look. I still want to be really mind Floyd area. I don't want to make it to I also stay careful of the direction. Even on the reference photo, it looks like they mostly stick straight out. So I'm going in a few different directions, still trying to keep it realist. Lots of white spaces and little feather strokes or light yellow spaces. But I will not cover a thing with a new layer of paint. Just to add some depth, I must speak of it musically. Darker golden brown shattered on bottom. Still, painting I paper just really trance out. Those highlights shadows home areas around the duckling, maintaining that negative negative painting technique like the light feathers like with dark feathers. So I'm painting around the lights, and I'm using her tone with that little bit of Lewin it to increase in the wing, using my damp brush to blend out that color a little bit, run the I to increased a little bit more of that detail. Darker tones sing a little bit my pirouette winter Marine to really make a darker brown here, and I'm noticing that the neck winning some deeper shadows, - the others. It's really just about looking around the anti pitch and just seeing where smoke may need to be made. I'm using the tip of my cleans just to looker puddle that I laid there and then and just spreading it out a bit, double dabbing texture in motion to bring out that little dappled toucher feathers and that had to work on some more of the shadowy. Feathery is mostly trying to blend thank Shadow into more of the lighter area so doesn't look so constant. I want to blend more for just make a little bit more realistic. - It's also a this point that I'm not completely relying on my reference photo. I'm looking at the painting for what it is and seeing what the painting needs, darkening the I, and in the next lesson I will show you how I painted his beak 7. Lesson 6 - The Beak: to mix up that peachy color for the beak. I'm going to use the new gambo sh the father color with a little Quinn, Ecuadoran rose and a tiny touch of a low blue to neutralize it. I want a fairly watery mix. I don't want it to be too intense. It's got to be really careful with my amount of colors. Once I have the color I want, I'm going to Prewett the entire top beak because I don't want any hard edges within that beak shape. But I don't want to paint the bottom beak yet, so I'm leaving that part alone and again. I'm going to use Thief photo reference as a loose guide, but I'm not going to follow it exactly. So I'm taking that that peachy color and I'm just running it along the edges that I'm going to rinse and blot my brush and just kind of use the paint that's already there. Spread it out and leave that light area right in the middle. I want a darker along the edges of the base, a little bit more darkness on the tips in the base and even a little bit more of a darker brown as well. I still want to keep that really light space in the middle of the beak, if I may make a mistake. When I just brought my brush and I wipe that set up a bit and again, I'm just blotting up a little bit of that extra color, my brushes thirsty, meaning it will suck up the paint if it if the bristles are just slightly damp and not too wet. And I can play with this for a long as the paint stays wet. I wanted to introduce the touch of fellow blue. It's not quite working out, so I'm going to change that again. Just using my clean, damp brush toe wipe that tone going back to my peachy comes to cover that again. I can still see a hint of that blue, which adds. It adds a little bit of interest and again just blotting up some of that extra pigment once the top beak is completely dry. I'm just going in with my darker brown color, and I'm painting this on dry paper just because it's such a small section again making a darker right at the base. - And while I'm here I'm going to take a tiny bit of my white quash and bring out a highlight on that I and a little bit around those feathers. I just really want that I to pop a little bit. In the next and final lesson. I will show you how I painted the feet and the shadow. 8. Lesson 7 - Feet and Shadow: for this final lesson. I'm starting by mixing an orangey color for the feet. I'm using the new Gambo sh and a little bit of that quinacrine own rose. Same cause I used on the beak in a touch of pyro orange, Also adding a touch of ultra me to neutralize that bright. I'm also going to add just a touch of the the water too intense. I've been on dry paper. I'm start AIDS on the very bottom of the making it a lot more watery painting that wedding . I want to start with light tell because I always build up. But I can't make them Lego Too dark too soon. Being into that golden brown just a bit. I don't want to be too dark and too orange. I'm going to speed this footage up just a little right here. I did be wet. That lay to the to the toes is gonna be a dark areas and filling it all in with starting with the golden brown and then more of the it orange towards the total. And what a touch of the dark orange color in the dark shadow right on. The very, they say is still wet. So Aiken at the colors and the blend smoothly together, using a clean damper away some of that extra pigment along the top where the highlights to be I found the feed to be a little bit more touches abound and just back and forth between the two different eat trying to get it Teoh, look the well, because I have dark shadows and light enough highlights that could give more of a real impression again . I'm emphasizing the shadow, the toes and again bringing highlight no shadow. I'm starting paper right under the the painting The waters feet. I want no shadow color to blend in, but I still want to have it. So I don't put the water all the way to where I want the shadow because and beyond of the wet, a little bit hard to explain But I think you'll see what I mean as I start here. Um, use that sound color that I used for a lot of the feather ship and you can see that I'm flicking out the pain that look like the tail feather shadow and the result with hard edges so that I won't go on wet paper paper to keep those shadows, but the thick on the inside out. A vision immensely, but I'm just using a variety of just a single color, but it's taking away from that. So I just use a dry paper towel and I brought that up. Let's start over and I'm using some gwahd. Where's the toes? Because I did not think it had enough of a highlight. And so I use the final touch, and I was flying some of the dark metal nails final go wash highlights and some of the feathers and a few little more dark shadows building up some contrast there, and then the little duckling is complete. 9. Conclusion and Next Steps: Thank you so much for joining me for this watercolor course. I really hope to learn something from it. And I hope you give it a try. I know that there could be a lot of fear in applying that first stroke of paint to your blank white paper. And it still happens to me too. But just practice as much as you can, and you will build more confidence over time. I'm really looking forward to seeing your work, so please post them in the project section of this class. I also encourage you to follow me so you can be notified of future classes as I release them, including these stacked speckled stones and the shiny red Karatz. Finally, if you have any questions for me, please feel free to reach out. I am here for you to answer all of your questions. Thanks again. And happy painting.