How to Paint a Flamingo in Acrylics | Charlotte Jordan | Skillshare

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How to Paint a Flamingo in Acrylics

teacher avatar Charlotte Jordan, Artist | Entrepreneur | Teacher

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

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Lesson 1: Base Layer


    • 4.

      Lesson 2: Texture Layer


    • 5.

      Lesson 3: 2nd Texture Layer


    • 6.

      Lesson 4: Glazing Layer


    • 7.

      Lesson 5: Final Feather Layer


    • 8.

      Lesson 6: Beak Base Layer


    • 9.

      Lesson 7: Shadows


    • 10.

      Lesson 8: Eye and Highlights


    • 11.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

This class will teach you how to paint a fabulous pink flamingo in acrylic paint. Many of the techniques I use can also be applied to oils. You will learn how to create the layers needed to make a semi-realistic flamingo that has depth and detail. You will also learn the 4-step painting process that I use on all of my paintings. The supplies are straightforward and so are the stages in which we will paint. 

I consider this class to be intermediate to advanced, so you'll need some basic knowledge on how to handle acrylic paint. Don't worry! I have an acrylics basics class just for you beginners out there! Check that out if you need a refresher on acrylic paint.

Meet Your Teacher

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Charlotte Jordan

Artist | Entrepreneur | Teacher



Charlotte Jordan is a Florida-based artist from England and an 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 favorite creatures to paint, but she loves to experiment and challenge herself and teach and inspire others to use their creativity.

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Charlotte toward it. And in today's class I'm going to teach you have to pay this fooling go right here. This is an intermediate to advanced class and we will be using acrylics as well. But many of the techniques I use can be applied to oils. I've been painting professionally for about two years now. And I've been slowly building up my skills, techniques, all that stuff. I always knew that I was going to be creating out. I didn't know that I will be turning it in this year career. But I love what I do and I love my job. And I just hope that people can learn a few things from me and that they become inspired. So I hope you enjoyed the class and let's get into it. Hi. 2. Supplies: So for the supplies in this class. So we're going to be following some basic things that are going to need. Obviously, we're using acrylics, so you're going to be meeting some paints. Obviously, black and white are the most important paint that you're going to need. Just kind of a fundamental what you should have in a way. And then the three colors that I'm going to be using is primarily red, white to make that king. And then a little bit of yellow and orange. If you, if you don't have an orange that you can mix the red and yellow to get bat. But these are the primarily three colors that I'm using for this painting, plus the black and the white. You'll obviously need a pad and paper, towels and water, et cetera, et cetera, solves. There weren't show those to you. The main brushes that I'm using for this class are just three of them, starting with this largest sort of flat angled brush. Just any flat brush will do anything that covers the good amount of ground for your painting. Obviously, I'm working quite large. You do not have to work as large as I am. I am simply creating a very large painting. You can work a lot smaller if you'd like. The next brush is one of my most favorite brushes to use. It is my go-to. When I do animal paintings, this is called a rake brush. Sometimes it's called a wisp brush, depending on what story or n. This is perfect for creating food textures by the textures and all sorts of other textures that, in that genre that. And then finally, the smallest brush, which is a detailed brush. You can use any brush that has just a very small detail lip to it. So these are the three brushes, but I primarily use for this painting. You can choose to have a few extras, bigger or smaller or whatever you are comfortable. One thing I like to have on me in my supplies wherever I go is a spray bottle. This is just filled with regular water. I use this to keep my paints wet in my palette, as well as on the canvas itself, but so I can still use it. You're going to need this primarily in your base layer, especially if you're working better like I am. Unfortunately, acrylics tend to dry very quickly, but that's another reason why I like them. So you will need a water bottle or some kind just to spray on to keep your paints wet. And then the final thing, I would recommend you having some glazing fluids. If you don't have glazing fluid or medium, you can use water. Glazing medium is basically a great way to tint color over the top of your painting without taking too much of the detail away. And it really, really boosts the vibrancy and just the depths in your paintings. Now you can use water if you don't have glazing fluid or media, you just move her down your paints just enough so that it's translucent and you can apply it then on a dry painting. So I would recommend you getting something like this if you've never got it or used it before, It's great for getting depth and vibrancy. And it's just a neat little trick that I have picked up with glazing. Flip it. So that is everything for this applies at this class. Feel free to use whatever brushes you're comfortable with. And if you wanted to add in a few more supplies as completely up to you, you don't have to have the exact colors I have. I don't care if you're using a cadmium red or a crimson red. Just a red will do what work with whatever you've got. So now that we've got supplies out of the way, let's jump into the classes. 3. Lesson 1: Base Layer: So I'm starting off with my big flat brush and three basic colors. Using a red has a little bit of black mixed into it and white. And we're going to be starting with our base layer for the flamingo, we need to put in those values, which are the most important part of a lot of paintings. So I'm starting with my darkest value with that dark red that has a tiny bit of black mixed into it. Using the larger flat brush just to cover more ground more quickly. And I'm starting with the shadows, basically mapping out where the shadows and highlights going to be on my flamingo. Now I'm moving on to our mid-tones by taking a little bit of white and mixing that into the red we just used to create our midtone. And this is going to be everywhere that our darkest and lightest values aren't. So we're just filling in the basic layers right now. I'm not worried at this point about how it looks or if it looks a little weird or if the paints aren't mixing right now, obviously you want to keep your paint wet in order to blend them later on. And you also want to make sure that you stay within the lines, of course, and just keep your paint as well as possible whilst you are working in this layer. Mixing some more of that midtone starting at the bottom of the face, and then switching to a lighter pink. My brightest values, again, mixing a little bit of white into the rednecks that we've been using to create a lighter pink tone. And then just pretty much filling in all the areas that I want to cover. Now we will be going back and forth between our highlights and our shadows and areas that you might need to have more shadow and light. All of that is just part of the process. And again, I am using a spray bottle throughout this process just to keep the paints whilst I am blending into it. So if you see me holding a blue bottle, it's just filled with water. Now, I'm switching back and forth again to my darker layers just to fill in the shadows where I think they need to go. So for example, here, just under the flamingos face where his head would be casting a shadow under his chin, just below the eye to really make it stand out better and on the forehead to create more 3D effect. And you really want to trust your judgment. Obviously, if you're using a reference photo, then go ahead and use that. Here you can see me holding up my rigger brush. I love rate brushes. They are one of my favorite brushes to use for creating fur texture. I'm simply just taking a dry brush of a rake brush. Again, wetting down the paint, keep it wet so I can blend it. And what just dry brushing with the right brush to give it some texture and to help it blend out the paint so it gets a smoother texture. And also help create some of those texture lines for the feathers. You want to keep your brush strokes in the direction that the feathers would naturally grow. This is going to help add to the realism of the piece. And just like I said before, keep the painting wet whilst you're working with this. And use the rake brushed your advantage by creating those brushstrokes. And don't worry if you go out of the line slightly because a lot of those areas will be covered up later. I'm just doing this all over the flamingos body. And that is pretty much how you start your flamingo. This is just the base layer. We need to add a pml layers on top of it and tell it really starts to come to life. But this layer helps with your values and your values or your most and layer. Because you really need to get those figured out in order for it to look realistic. And like I said, don't worry if you have a little bit of the feathers coming over the edge, we will fix those later on. So let's move on to the next section. 4. Lesson 2: Texture Layer: So moving on to the next layer, I'm going to be starting with my rake brush as before, and with this brighter pink again, just mixing a lot more white into that pale pink we were using before. And I'm using my brush to create the texturing layer. And I'm going to be leaving some little gaps. I'm going to be clumping the texture to create a more realistic appearance. And I'm basically going to be covering the entire flamingo in this, just giving him some texture all over the body. So it looks like feathers. And just so you can have a better idea of what I'm doing here, you can see the individual brushstrokes that I'm leaving some little gaps in between the brushstrokes to really give a realistic appearance to the feathers. Just remembering to keep my palette sprayed down so it keeps a whack and easy to work with. And that's another tip I would give you. If you're working with gouache brushes, you don't want to have two thicker paint on them because otherwise the bristles will get stuck together and you won't get that texturing effect. Again, I'm doing this all throughout the body pretty much. The thing about leaving the gaps in-between the texture is that you will actually see the value layer beneath it. So you'll still see all of that work that you've done prior. You want to keep your feather texture in the direction that it naturally grows. So you can see that I'm really trying to pay attention to how the feathers would grow out of the flamingos head and down his body. So this is something you want to keep in mind whenever you are doing animals, birds and cats, dogs, anything like that. Really just starting to build up the layers here and add in those textures. It will get a little bit covered up later on, but that's perfectly fine. I would just really wanting to give him that kind of fluffy but not too fluffy look. Kinda of a sleek look. A little flamingos half with a bit of the feathers sticking up. And then working my way down the body as well. Don't worry too much about the shadows or anything like that at this point, we're simply adding a whole layer of texture covering the embody. Again, those values should show through if you're doing the feather texture correctly by leaving those little gaps between each of the brushstrokes. And depending on whereabouts on the body or working, you can choose to do longer brushstrokes and create longer feathers or shorter brushstrokes, for example, around the eye and the beak connects with his head to create more of a realistic appearance. And that's all going to be doing for this class here. We're going to let this layer dry a little bit so that we can go back over any of the layers that might need a bit of thickening up. 5. Lesson 3: 2nd Texture Layer: So in this lesson, we're just going to be continuing what we did in our previous class with the texture layer. Except this time we're going to be focusing all of our efforts on the highlighted areas and thickening up some of the areas that really need that extra fullness to them. So for example, right around the forehead and the top of the head where the light is hitting the flamingo the most. And a little bit by the neck and down the one side of the body. It's important that you really accentuate the values in your pieces, as I've said before, and I'll say it many times more, your values are your most important part of a painting. They really bring out the life in a painting. So you do want to focus on building that up. And I'm just really thickening up for some of the areas that really need it. So you can see the difference that it makes. He looks thicker and fuller right there on the top of his head. And we're gonna do that on the highlighted side of his body as well. All we're doing is just using our rake brush and that same motion, but we're just applying the paint a little more thicker and just leaving a few less gaps than before. And you can see how an our previous layer, it's really showing through it this point as well with the dark values. So we're going to want to let our painting completely dry before we move on to the next stage, it's very important that you do that because we're going to be glazing. 6. Lesson 4: Glazing Layer: So now we're moving on to the glazing layer. And I'm going to be using a glazing medium and a large flat brush for this. And unfortunately my camera didn't quite record the first part of this. So you can see I've done some glazing already, but I will explain to you how to glaze. So glazing medium, or if you don't have glazing medium, you can use water. It's basically a very translucent glaze that is used to tint color over the top of your paintings. So it's really great for boosting the vibrancy and the depth of your painting without losing too much of the work that you've done before. You want it to be translucent enough that you actually can see the layers beneath. So you'll take your glazing medium or water and a tiny bit of paint and you'll mix that together to create a very translucent mix. And then you'll just put that on the top of your painting. And you want to focus it on areas, obviously that you want to focus in. So if you're focusing on the shadows like I am here, then you want to go ahead and do that. Now I'm also taking multiple different glazes and different colors such as oranges, magentas, and a little bit of yellows. And I am dotting them around the flamingo just so it gives them more vibrant and colorful appearance than the flamingo naturally has. So you can see it's all around the eye there, under the chin, under his cheek that and down the body where the light isn't hitting it. So it's a really simple layout. All you're doing is tinting color and boosting its color and vibrancy within the flamingo itself. You want to make sure the layers previous to this are completely dry when doing glazes, otherwise you will get a muddy effect. But that's pretty much how you glaze and it's a great way to give that ups. 7. Lesson 5: Final Feather Layer: So now we are moving on to the next layer of the flamingos at body, I am using my palest pink or the brightest pink and switching back to my rake brush again. And we're going to start to just like with the texture layer. We're adding in those brightest textures and brightest feather layers to create that real sense of highlight and depth to the flamingo. And again, you want to concentrate this a little bit more. You don't want to cover the entire body. You want to do it in the lightest and brightest areas on the flamingo? I always believe that less is more the more you work through your process when you get to your details, less, It's most certainly more. You'll see me throughout the painting process. I'm just using my fingers to smudge out some of the brightest areas, especially when I'm working down the face where it's not so highlighted. And I'm just blending those out and smudging those out just creates a little bit of texture, a little bit of subtlety. And that's another great tip for creating realistic animals. You'll basically creating all these different layers to create subtle effects. And I'll show you a close-up of what I'm doing here just so you can get a better idea of how I'm doing this. Again, just using that rate brush just like before to create those brighter areas and brighter highlights. And again, clumping their feathers. Don't keep your feathers to smush together. And the West is gonna look flat. And you're not going to have those textures that you are looking at. I'm bringing a little bit of the highlight into the shadow. Just create that sense of 3D realism. Again, not too much less is more. You want to keep those concentrated in the brightest areas. You can bring a little bit of the highlights back, but not too much. And again, pay attention to where your shadow sit. For example, the flamingos beak is actually covering a little bit of his body there. So you want to keep that illusion of a shadow is being cast across that part of his body. So that is everything that we're going to do for the flamingos body part. In the next classes, I'm going to be focusing on his beak and his eye. We will go back and forth a little bit with some more shadows on his body. But that's pretty much the basics of how your paint a flamingo body. 8. Lesson 6: Beak Base Layer: So now moving on to the beak and i area of the flamingo, which is the last areas on the flamingo. The colors or the only cause that I'm really going to be using for this is black and white. And I'm going to start off with my large flat brush again. And I'm mixing a sort of mid gray tone here. Flamingo beaks are typically black or white. That's just the color they are. And occasionally they'll have a few other colors reflected into them from their bodies. But I'm starting off with this mid gray tone and I'm starting to create just like before, our base layer of the flamingo B-C. Again, it's just using that four-step process that I always use, starting with your values, then your textures, if it has any, and then your glazing layer or your layer that adds depth then, and then the details, the beak is a little bit different because it is a smooth or objects and we're only really focusing on, again, values because that is the most important part. I'm just adding this gray tone here. I'm not too worried about how it looks. You can see him kind of very randomly adding this in. Again, you can follow a reference photo or a photo that will help you figure out where those darker areas need to be. Again, putting that around me, I there is a little bit cutoff and focusing this mostly on the underside of the beak because that is where the, the darker areas are going to be adding a little bit of that darker gray in. And then of course at the end of the flamingo beak there because typically black, so I'm just going to fill in black and then come back to it later with some grays to bring out the highlights in it. Filling that in, again, don't worry too much about how it looks. Just make sure you keep those outer edges clean. And then giving him a mouth line as well. Remember you wanna keep your paints wet at this point because you do need to blend later on. So I'm using my spray bottle there just to make sure it stays as white as possible. And then cleaning up those lines, they're just making sure I've got my steady hand. Just to really help the shape beak. You will notice I will leave a very small gap in between the two black parts of the beak. This is going to help me find where the mouth line is. Later on. You can leave a little gap there or leave a little hint of a line where the two separate mouth parts are. And then I'll be taking a slightly lighter color and I'll be putting in some white, again, just filling in the areas in a gray tone just so I can create some shadows and some darker areas. Then going in with the white washed, the paint is still wet, so it kinda starts to blend a little bit here already. And I'm just filling in all the areas that I haven't painted yet. And again, on that outer edge there where the beak faces the light keeping nice clean lines there. Because that I'll see is hey hada edge. Hopefully bringing that up into the eye area. I know you can't see the eye right now, but it is pretty much the same as what I'm doing down below on the beak. Just have to pay attention to why you will lights and shadows would be naturally. So now I'm keeping this wet and I'm actually going to use my finger to blend. If you aren't comfortable using your finger, then you can go ahead and find a brush that really works for you. That helps blending. I just like to use my finger because I find it gives me more control and it just has a softer blend. So that's why I like to use my finger for blending a lot. Again, you don't have to use your finger. You can use a brush. And it also depends on the surface that you're painting on. For me, I'm painting on a canvas. So that really helps blend the paint. Obviously on paper or wood would be a little more tricky. So now I'm just going to fill in the nose area. Flamingos do have a little nose hole, so I'm just giving him no tall just using straight up black for this and bringing it out into that white paint, trying to keep the paints a little wet still so I can still blend with them if I need to. And then also taking some more gray and starting to cost those shadows on the beak again. Also adding some gray into the black areas of the beak to create some highlights. This way, going to help the beak look a little more realistic. And then just blending, smoothing those out with my finger again, just so it looks a little softer. And we'll move on to the second part of the beak in the next class. 9. Lesson 7: Shadows: So just as before, I'm taking my larger flat brush and I'm starting to take a darker gray and add some shadows into the beak to make it look a little more realistic in fitting with the rest of the body. And I'm also going to bring this dark gray kind of into the flamingos body just a little bit, just so it really helps to tie the two things together. So I'm focusing it especially around his face, where the beak and his cheek will connect. And then just using my finger to smudge it out and smooth it out and keep it, although soft. And also doing the same around the eye, I'm just really focusing it in certain areas on the beak that are going to be darker. And keeping some water on it as well in order to keep it blend double and soft. Also added a little bit just wet the forehead connects with that I corner that just to help with a bit more of a realistic shadow. I'm also going to add some white into that black, that the black is still wet. You want to make sure you keep that black wet. And then I'm going to blend that out into that black paint so it creates a grayish sort of midtone for the beak. I do apologize if I am standing a little bit in the way. I think you can understand what I'm doing here. Just kind of working in reverse because obviously we're working on a black background. We're starting with the black, which is our darkest layer, and then building up the highlights a little more through that mid-tone. And then the brightest layer. That's all I'm really doing is just everything we've been doing in reverse. Also taking that grayish, blackish color into the actual flamingos body itself as before, it will help tie everything together. And of course I'll be blending those with my finger as I go. And that way it's going to really help give some depth Gibson dark shadows that the flamingo kinda needs in order to really stand out. And I'm also doing this in certain points around the body. As you can see, this flamingo painting is a much larger and it will have eventually other things in it. We're just focusing on the flamingo in this particular painting. And that is all we're going to do for this class. In the next class, we'll be finishing up our flamingo and working on the eye. 10. Lesson 8: Eye and Highlights: One of the final things we're going to move on to is the actual eye itself. I'm going to be using these two brushes, hit a small detail brush and a slightly larger detail brush. This slightly larger detail brush I'm using to fill in some yellow. You can choose whatever color you want your free or flamingos. Flamingos typically have a yellow, white, or red eyes. So pick whatever color you prefer. And just filling in the eyeball with it. Just to give it a nice base layer to walk from being really careful around the edges. I will also be adding in a little bit of white into that yellow to create a little bit of a highlight in the eye, just more of a soft highlight because we will have more definitive highlights a laser on. And then using a little bit of black to add some shadows into the eyeball itself just right around the rim. This will give a little more of a 3D effects to your eyes. I'm also going to add a tiny bit of orange into the dark areas of the eyes. Just because I want to give another color that's going to make it stand out and make it pop from the rest of the painting a little bit. So just a orange color on the darker side of the eyeball. And just smoothing that out a little bit. You can go back and forth as many times as you need with your highlights and everything. Again here I'm adding a little bit of that highlight back-end just because it lost it. And you'll find that you do that a lot with your paintings. If something loses something else, then you have to go back in with it later on. That's all just part of the process. And then just smoothing it a little louder, a little bit so it's not so rough looking. And then finally filling in that pupil, just a nice simple straight black. Nothing too difficult. And I'm also going to be focusing a little bit more on the shadows as well because I really want to make this I pop. You might want to let your eye dry first before you really move on to any shadows. As it will help the colors not muddy or blend in too much. And just giving it a shadow all around the eyeball and a little bit inside the pupil, just deepening up that black. And then finally going in with some bright white highlights along the edge of the eye, keep it really thin. Don't make a straight line. Break up that line so it doesn't look so weird. And then add some white into the eyeball and add that little dots of white or two inside the eyeball itself just on the edge of the pupils. That way it gives a really realistic look that your flamingo is alive and breathing. I always like to add to, I find it just gives a better appearance when those two little dots right there. But you can add one or three if you wanted to. It's really up to you, whatever makes sure flamingo come to life. And then finally moving on to the brightest details all throughout the flamingo. Focusing particularly on the beak because the beak is a shiny surface and it is a hard surface. So I'm adding some highlights along the nose, the just right along the edges. Keep it really thin, really small. Again, don't just drag a line of white across it. You want to break it up to make it look more realistic. Putting the brightest whites as well on the edge where the light is going to be hitting the beak. And then just anywhere that I think the flamingo might need it so long the mouth area as well. Right along his mouth line. Also adding some definitive highlights to the flamingos, black area of the beak. And then I'm just going to smudge that out because it doesn't need to be dots. It needs to be more of an actual shiny surface appearance. So I'm just adding that white smudging in that with my fingers so it looks shiny. And we doing that to both sides of the beak fact. And then just spraying it down with water just so it stays wet enough for me to blend. And so our flamingo painting is done. I hope you enjoyed this class. I hope you picked up some different techniques and that you'll flamingos turned out just as good. I look forward to seeing your projects and all of your flamingos. Hopefully, you were able to follow this with relative ease. Again, my painting process is pretty much in four steps. The base layer, the texture layer, the glazing layer, and the detail layer. And I apply that to pretty much everything that I paint. Whether it's from the flamingo body to his beak, to his eyes. It's just a very loose map of how I pain and how I follow the painting process. So I hope you enjoyed the class and thank you again for coming to it and hopefully learning. 11. Final Thoughts: So thank you so much for sticking around and finishing the class. I hope you had fun, and I hope you picked up a few tips and tricks for creating your own flamingos. A lot of what I do in my paintings basically follow a four step process for creating anything. And that would be, as you saw, the base value or the base layer, the texture layers, and then glazing and then details on that final layer. If you follow those four steps, you can basically apply that to anything and animals, people, objects, even landscapes. That is my fundamental process. And you just apply that to anything and you can kind of tweak in and some steps would be longer than the others. Or maybe you find that you go back and forth between steps. But that is what I follow and that's how I achieve my paintings. Whether you are an advanced painter or just a beginner, I highly advise that you give it a try and you tackle the more challenging painting tutorials because that's how you grow and that's how you pick up new techniques. If you are a beginner in painting, it's no good. You taking begin to courses and that's all you do. You have to, in order to grow and take them all. Maybe even scary left side. And that's how you pick up those techniques. So again, thank you so much for joining me for this class. I hope to see you all next time. And you may be seeing risk painting in a few lessons.