Hummingbird: Watercolor Workout | Anna Bucciarelli | Skillshare

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Hummingbird: Watercolor Workout

teacher avatar Anna Bucciarelli, Professional Illustrator

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 (43m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Color Palette

    • 4. Process Overview & Technique Refresh

    • 5. Hummingbird Outline

    • 6. Step 1 - Background Layer

    • 7. Step 2 - Definition Layer

    • 8. Step 3 - Accent Layer

    • 9. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Have you ever wanted to create a realistic colorful hummingbird using watercolors? Learn how to paint a gorgeous Ruby-throated Hummingbird step-by-step and improve your watercolor technique in this easy and actionable class.

This watercolor class is designed as a real-time painting “workout” fit for every artist who’s ever felt intimidated by highly detailed realistic subject matter. From creating an accurate bird outline to mastering shimmering feather details, you'll learn how tackle any hummingbird with confidence and nuance! Key lessons include:

1. Drawing a bird accurately using simple shapes;

2. Selecting your colors with an eye for highly vibrant and realistic look; and most importantly:

3. Understanding watercolor painting as a series of layers - from background to details:

  • when to use wet-onset vs wet-on-dry
  • what brushes to use for each layer
  • what strokes to use for each layer

Class materials and handouts include: "Supplies and Color Palette Ideas", reference painting, and a black & white outline. Whether you are a beginner or more experienced artist looking for a new element to add to you visual “vocabulary”, you will enjoy this watercolor workout and will come away full of colorful ideas for creating nature-inspired art with ease.

Meet Your Teacher

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Anna Bucciarelli

Professional Illustrator

Top Teacher


Hello and welcome to my Skillshare channel! My name is Anna, I am a Canadian money designer,  and illustrator of all things intricate and beautiful. You may have seen my art on Canadian silver dollar coins, Starbucks holiday cups, or the streets of Toronto. My painting style is influenced by the decorative tradition of “Petrykivka” painting – an Eastern European art focusing on floral and plant motifs.

I teach advanced watercolor and gouache here on SkillShare. You can also find lots of painting resources on my YouTube channel, visit my website or follow me on Instagram @anna.m.bucciarelli if you want to learn more about my work or simply say Hello!


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1. Introduction: [MUSIC] Hello and welcome to my Skillshare channel. My name is an Anna Bucciarelli, I'm a professional illustrator from Canada. I exhibit and license my work all around the world. My classes are all about vibrant, colorful watercolor paintings that bring you joy from the moment you pick up the brush. I specialize in botanical and decorative art. If you love painting flowers, animals, and birds, and you want to improve your watercolor skills and become a real pro at painting all beautiful nature inspired things, you're in the right place. Today we're going to paint a hummingbird. It's a perfect little creature that will look great in any flower painting you make. It also looks good as a standalone piece and works fantastic for surface design and fabric patterns. Once you go through the lesson with me, it will really become a part of your visual vocabulary so you can incorporate it into your larger, more complex painting projects. We'll start by drawing the hummingbird using very simple shapes. Even if you're not very comfortable with your drawing skills, this will simplify the process for you and you can start drawing hummingbirds in different flight positions easily, even if you don't have a good reference photo. We'll talk about the materials you need and the colors you can pick. We'll do a quick refresh of two different watercolor techniques, wet on wet and wet on dry and you can try a few simple exercises to get yourself comfortable. Most importantly, we will break down the painting process into layers so you really understand how to build your beautiful hummingbird from the background color and all the way to those lovely details and colorful feathers. We will paint in real time, start to finish and you can follow my every brush stroke. Those of you who follow me on Instagram have been asking for this type of format for a while, so I'm happy to deliver. It will be real time, real slow. Unlike my previous painting classes, where we did really detailed and complex flower compositions with lots of theories and lots of different techniques, this class is really easy to get into. Even if you're a beginner, it will take you no more than an hour your class project. Treat this class as a really good watercolor workout that will keep you motivated and inspired. If you have any questions, you can reach out to me through the Skillshare website just by posting a question in the class discussion section. Don't forget to follow me on Skillshare, on Instagram or YouTube to stay up to date about my upcoming classes and let's paint a beautiful hummingbird together. [MUSIC] 2. Supplies: [MUSIC] Hi guys and welcome to the class. I'm going to take you through our list of supplies and it's going to be really brief because our workout is going to be very easy and straightforward. First thing you will need is good paper. Go for a professional watercolor paper if you can. I'm using this Stonehenge cold press paper. I'm using a cold pressed because I like the texture. It really holds the water and allows you to do a lot of wet on wet washes, but you can also try hot press paper, it will dry a lot faster. But as long as the weight of the paper is 140 pounds or higher, it will work just fine. For this entire workout, I'm using just one brush. It's a Kolinsky sable brush. The reason why I love these is because they're super versatile. For your larger areas of color when you're doing wet on wet technique, they hold a lot of water and you can use this brush and then also use the same brush as you switch to more finer details because they have a really nice tip that allows you to make those tiny, tiny details. If you don't have a natural Kolinsky sable brush, it's not a big deal. You just need two different brushes that are synthetic and one will be a bigger size for your first wash where we're going to color large areas, and then you'll need something like this and size zero or one. You can also go with double zero for tiny details. These are synthetic single brushes that I'm holding. If you prefer squirrel brushes, those work well. You can use a squirrel brush and I have this one in size 4, for larger areas and you will need something much smaller like size 1 or 0 for tiny details. You will need a pencil and just try to make sure it's a hard pencil so you don't leave a lot of marks on paper when you need to erase something. You can also use watercolor pencils. I know that some of my students have been using those and they actually dissolve for the most part, once you start covering the area with water. You can use watercolor pencils. You'll need an eraser and some water and maybe just a bit of tissue. You can use it to remove excess water from your brush as you paint, and finally a palette. I love these porcelain palettes, but really any white palette will do. Now, we're going to talk about the colors. [MUSIC] 3. Color Palette: [MUSIC] Before we talk about the specific colors we need, I want to quickly go over a few key principles related to the color palette. First, we will try to recycle our colors. This will make the overall look more harmonious. What I mean by that is we will occasionally take the colors from one area of the bird and use them in other areas. You will see this as I start painting, especially on the belly feathers because the belly is practically wide and it will reflect a lot of other colors. The second principle is for each color section, we'll pick two or better even three or four colors within the same range. After all, it's a watercolor workout and so feel free to try as many colors as you want. We will use these to show highlights, mid tones, shadows within the same color family. This will also help us achieve a shimmering effect because the feathers are super smooth, so they tend to reflect all sorts of light and color. Finally, please feel free to use the colors that you already have and already love. You don't need to have this specific brands or pigments that I use. There are so many fantastic watercolor brands out there. You might have your old favorites already, so as long as you pick similar colors from your own collection and keep following the layers exactly how I show you, I promise you will be happy with the result. What found super useful and I recommend it to anyone who's testing colors and building a palette is using a dot chart. Essentially you get a full range of colors from your favorite brand for a price of one tube, I use Daniel Smith here, and you get to try them all and pick the ones you love and then invest in the ones that you really like. It's awesome, and the best $20 you'll ever spend. Now, let's talk about those pigments. This ruby throat of bird is so small but full of gorgeous colorful feathers. Let's break it down into different areas and talk about your options for each color area. I will keep this section that I'm referring to highlighted, and I will desaturate the rest so it's easier for you to see. For the wings at minimum you will need a nice warm brown and a purple, especially for the back wing and the shadows. You can also add a bit of violet. My color choices here are Perlin violet, permanent brown from Daniel Smith, and dioxazine purple from QOR. Our bird is called ruby throated hummingbird for a reason, so then it's a nice vibrant reds to make up the shimmering ruby color. I use pyrrol orange, Opera pink, pyrrol crimson from Daniel Smith. Note that I will be blending it with purple from the beak once I start painting so that that darker part right underneath the beak is visibly connected. You can also use other warm reds and oranges here, you can even use a coral or something darker like a [inaudible]. Our largest area of color is the back. We need lots of different options here to create this shimmering effect. For the highlights, which is where the sun hits the green feathers, I would go with a warm yellow from midtones. Just use your basic green like I'm using permanent green here. For your darkest green, which is also what you will use to outline the feathers in the final stage, I would go with something like sap green deep. I will also be using a lot of Hookers green. You can also use another bright green that will really help you boost the colors. The one I'm using is called Phthalo green, yellow shade. You may also want to add a drop of blue just on top of the bird's head. For our tail, we'll need two colors; a very dark blue, and I'm using indigo, and one of the greens that you've already used to help blend the tail into the body. I'll be using Hookers green. For legs, eye and the beak, we want to achieve a really dark color here, so you can use black. It's totally okay. I personally avoid using black when painting natural subjects because black simply doesn't exist as a color [LAUGHTER] in nature. To make it look more realistic, I recommend recycling and mixing colors from other parts of the painting. You can use your violets or browns and purples, and also your dark blue. The belly is almost all white and it will reflect color from other areas like wings and sides. I will use a very light wash of transparent pyrrol orange. You can use a warm brown or a really light orange and add all other colors from other sections. The key here is to keep the layers super light. Let's put it up. You can download the handout with a quick summary of your color choices and options in the Class Resources section right here on the Skillshare website. [MUSIC] 4. Process Overview & Technique Refresh: [MUSIC] This section is very important, probably the most important because I want to help you see how you can accomplish what you seek to do. This is a good moment to pause and look at your subject and how you plan to approach it as a series of layers, from a very soft background color with almost no details, to a very detailed layer where we will use our darkest, most pigmented colors. Now, this may be a big shift in the way you use watercolor, because if you're like me, you may want to work on this gorgeous feathers right right, but we have to be patient and avoid putting in too much work too soon. What you want to do is start with your big color washes and then naturally progress to more finer details. In terms of the technique, we will use wet-on-wet for our first layer. This is a basic watercolor technique, which means you wet the area you're going to paint first and very quickly add your colors to the wet area before it's all dry. You mix the colors directly on the paper and let them blend. You can see it on the left in our first background layer. Feel free to use your larger brush here, Size 3 or 4. [MUSIC] The next two layers we will use a much finer brush, or just the tip of the brush if you're using the same sable brush as the one you used in the first layer. We will only use a wet-on-dry technique. Meaning we will be applying colors with a wet brush on top of the layer that's completely dry. It's a lot more controlled way of painting and you will be able to make those rounded strokes to outline the feathers without your colors spreading all over the place. Let's do this. Let's start by really nailing your background layer and you will be able to do all those lovely details in the end. It will look awesome. [MUSIC] 5. Hummingbird Outline: Now let's talk about the outline of our bird. You can either download a black and white outline from the class resources and then proceed straight to the coloring stage or you can stay with me for two minutes and I will show you how I draw hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are actually super easy to draw if you think about them as a series of simple shapes. You start with three interlocking ovals. A small one for the head and then a larger elongated circle for our body. Then another small elongated circled here for your tail, it's squished. This last one is really almost flat, and it should sit almost entirely inside the bigger circle sticking out just a bit. Now you can connect the circles and you can see the shape of the bird emerge. Now add a beak first as a straight line, then make it thicker and add a bit of a curve here, and then the eye. Now it's time to add the tail feathers. Just draw a few straight lines all leading up to this area where the circles connect, and then make each feather just like that. [MUSIC] Now let's do the wings. You can imagine them as a series of triangles going up, starting right here, and they follow the layers of feathers. Once you have the basic shape, you can define the inner feathers and the outer feathers and maybe some feathers on the back too. [MUSIC] Now we'll do those long top feathers. Start by drawing straight lines. You need about a dozen of them going up from the back to the top of the wing. [MUSIC] Now add rounded tips to make sure the wings overlap, just like this. [MUSIC] To wrap this up, only if you feel like it, you can add feet here at the bottom. [MUSIC] That's it. Before you start painting, it's a good idea to separate different areas of color visually. You will want to also outline the red throat here and maybe add a few further details where you know you will need to work with your brush to add some definition. That's it. We're ready to start painting. 6. Step 1 - Background Layer: 7. Step 2 - Definition Layer: 8. Step 3 - Accent Layer: 9. Final Thoughts: [MUSIC] Hi guys, our workout is done. Congratulations. I hope you've had a lot of fun. Don't forget to post your projects here, beautiful hummingbirds right here on the Skillshare website. If you have any questions whatsoever, you can reach out to me by posting a discussion in the community discussion section of this class. You can also reach out to me on Instagram or Facebook. You can also follow me on YouTube, where I post really long time lapses of very complex watercolor compositions if you're interested in that type of thing. If you really like the class, please follow me on Skillshare, and you'll be the first to know when I post my next. Thank you so much guys. I hope you enjoyed this workout, and if you want to see more of this type of format, let me know in the class review what subjects you want me to paint, what colors you want me to test. I'm always grateful for your feedback as it helps me become a better teacher and come up with better content for you. Thanks guys, and have an awesome time. Take care. [MUSIC]