How to Paint Ducks and Water Ripples in Watercolor | Chris | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

How to Paint Ducks and Water Ripples in Watercolor

teacher avatar Chris, Watercolor artist

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

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.

      Water - First Layer


    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.

      Ducks - Initial Layer


    • 7.

      Dark Tones


    • 8.

      Initial Details


    • 9.

      Finishing the Ducks


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

In this Skillshare class, you'll learn how to paint beautiful and realistic ducks in watercolor, complete with water ripples and reflections. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced watercolor painter, you'll discover the techniques and tips for bringing these feathered friends to life. You'll learn about the properties of water and how to create believable ripples, as well as how to capture the unique reflection of ducks in water. By the end of the class, you'll have a stunning watercolor painting of a duck and the skills to create your own. So grab your watercolors and get ready to dive into this exciting and educational class!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image


Watercolor artist

Level: Advanced

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Preview: Hi, in this tutorial, I'd like to show you how to achieve this effect of repose and the water, and water reflections. I thought that the ducks would be great for that as they create really nice color composition with the water. It is surprisingly easy to paint water like this. And I think that the result is quite impressive. I think anyone can try to paint this and perhaps use this technique in your own paintings with water like this. We're going to practice a bit of wet on wet technique, but this time it's really more about wet on dry. You will learn how easily we can paint the water. How to create those nice reflections. How to paint the feathers and create those nice patterns without going too much into details. 2. Masking: Hi, in this tutorial, I would like to show you how to paint ripples on the water, water reflections. And of course, these two lovely ducks, you will see how we can easily paint such water. I think it's quite impressive, even though it is not really difficult to paint. I'll guide you step-by-step as usual. I hope you'll give this painting ago. Let's start by masking the ducks. If we do that, it will be much easier for us to paint water. Because we're going to paint water first. I'll be using Winsor and Newtons masking fluid with a yellow tinge. Here. I also have a cap from the old masking fluid. I'm going to use it to pour some of the masking fluid into it. We'll also need a piece of soap, and that's really important. And the brush for applying the brisket, gently rotating the bottles so that the yellow pigment dissolves well in the liquid. Never shake the bottle. Shaking will create foam and air bubbles and we don't want them. I'm pouring some masking fluid into the cup and I'm closing the battle quickly so that the remaining liquid doesn't come into contact with air for too long. First, dip the brush in clean water, then rub the bristles on a piece of soap a few times, dip the brush in the water again, and scoop up some soap again. This cell player prevents the bristles from sticking together. I always use soap if I use a brush for applying masking fluid. Now we can dip the brush in the masking fluid and start applying it to the paper. Our goal is to apply the masking to the edges of the ducks. We don't have to cover the whole ducks. We can just apply the masking on the edges. When we will be painting water, the paint will not flow into the ducks shapes. The heads up, the darks are quite small. So I decided to put the masking all over them. So this is what masked dogs look like. Now that the masking dry completely, we can move on to the next step when it's dry. 3. Water - First Layer: We'll paint water in two steps. In step one will apply the lightest shade of blue all over the water. Then in step two, we will paint the reflections. Let's first prepare blue paint. Prepare a large amount of cobalt blue mixed with Winsor blue green shade. Why am I using these colors? Well, in this step, we want to paint the basic blue shade we see in the photo. In fact, this blue color is the sky reflected in the water. Therefore, I want to use the colors that I would probably use to paint the sky. Cobalt blue is my go-to color. When it comes to sky color, it is neither cool or warm. It is just a neutral blue. Here however, we paint the water, not the sky. And I want to keep its color scheme in turquoise tones. That's why I'm also adding some Windsor blue green shade as that will shift the blue a bit towards green. And later, when we add green reflections, everything will harmonize nicely and we will get a beautiful color composition. Now we are going to paint with the wet on wet technique. So we have to start by wetting the paper. Use a large brush for this. I just remembered that I have pure squirrel mop brush by Winsor and Newton that holds a lot of water. I decided to use it this time just to quickly put a layer of water, wet the entire area, apply a plenty of water and give it about 30 s to settle down. Make sure the entire surface is wet. Now we'll paint the blue reflections with brush number 12. Know that the blue color is intense in the center, but close to the green reflections. The blue is much paler, it's almost white. This tells us that we need to create smooth gradients from blue to almost white. To do this, first of all, we're using the wet on wet technique, which allows us to obtain smooth gradients easily. Secondly, I'm applying blue paint in the middle between the dark green reflections and I'm allowing it to spread. In this way. The blue is intense in the middle, but it spreads creating lighter shades close to the green reflections. Notice that as I'm slowly moving the brush across the paper and finally lifted off the paper. A larger stain of paint appears at the end of the brush stroke. We don't really want this effect here. To avoid this tried to make the brush stroke in the opposite direction. Paint from the inside out so that the end of the brush stroke is outside the painting. Also remember that even if you have such a stain, we can get rid of it either by dabbing it with a paper towel or simply lifting off the paint with a clean brush. On the left and right sides of the ducks, we can see some ripples in the water in the shape of circles. Now, let's mark these shapes. Paint these oval shapes, leaving a little space between them for highlights. Tilt your painting in different directions to get the paint moving and creating soft gradients. Now we have to do a very important thing. Weighed about two to 3 min for the paint to soak into the paper. You should see a low sheen on the paper. Now rinsed brush in clean water, blooded on a paper towel. And then with a clean damp brush, try to lift out the paint, creating highlights in the oval shapes. This way we will create the effect of ripples on the water. Run the brush several times in the same place until you see that light oval shape. To enhance the wavy effect, add a bit more blue in-between these light ovals. Do the same on the right-hand side, create blue ovals imitating ripples on the water. I'll leave everything to dry completely. 4. Reflections: The blue layer is completely dry and we can start painting the reflections. This time we will be using the wet on dry technique because these reflections have sharp edges. If we use the wet on wet technique, the edges would be blurry. Thanks to the wet-on-dry technique, will be able to keep the edges of these shapes sharp. I want to keep the colors of the water in turquoise, green shades. So now let's use a mixture of Windsor blue, green shade and green gold. Windsor Blue has a greenish shade and green gold will hours to get that gorgeous juicy greens when mixed with the Winsor blue. Prepare plenty of Windsor blue and green gold. Also prepare the green gold in a separate puddle. I'm going to use a brush size ten. Now, start painting from the top. Notice the consistency of my paint. The color is dark but the consistency isn't thick. I would say it's a milky consistency. The paint should not be thick as we would not be able to obtain a relatively uniform layer and smooth color transition. Our goal is to fill the shapes with different shades of blue and green. But we want to achieve a relatively uniform layer with smooth color transitions. Now I'm replacing the brush with a slightly smaller one. I'll be using the number eight to paint smaller, more precise shapes. Try to paint what you see in the photo. At this point, we need to create the effect of oval ripples on the water. Paint these shapes as if you were painting on the water. Under the dark, we can also see its reflection in the water. Then think about what you are painting. Forget that it's the ducks reflection. Focus on shapes, colors, and tones. If you focus too much on the fact that it's a dark reflection, you may get stressed too much. Treat this reflection as a regular shape. There you just have to fill in with some nice colors. Apply these colors, make sure they are dark enough. Pay attention to the hues. Noticed where it's more green, where it's more blue, where the shade is lighter when it gets darker. But don't go into details. Our goal is not hyper realism. Simplify what can be simplified. Paint basic shapes, filled them with beautiful colors. Later, we will add some details. We have even more reflections on the right-hand side that create those oval shapes. Tried to follow the oval blue shapes you painted in the previous part. Let everything harmonize with each other and create one hole. Use a smaller brush to paint fine lines precisely. But again, you don't have to paint every single line. We're just trying to create an impression of ripples. Finally, paint a reflection of the head. The color is really dark around the neck to make our color darker. Payne's gray to it. Remember that the colors will be paler when they dry. So now we can use darker shades than we think we should use. As you can see at this stage, it doesn't look very special, but we don't worry about that at all. There is always a stage in the process of painting when something seems ugly, it's called the ugly stage. Don't worry about it and just keep painting. Later. Everything will start to come together beautifully and it will all create great result. After painting, the reflections leave everything to dry completely. And then we can move on to the next stage. 5. Highlights: If we look at the reference photo, we can see that there are some lighter lines within the reflections. There are a few ways we could achieve them. For one of those ways, it's already too late. That would be painting around those lighter lines when we were painting the reflections. But that would be really tricky and it would take ages. We could also mask them out too bad. That will leave us with two hard edges. We could also paint them now with white gouache, maybe mixed with some blues so that it's not so white. That might work out. But there is one more simple way. We can just simply leave them out with a scrubber brush. It has a few benefits. We can be more or less precise depending on what we need and what brush we're using. The edges won't be super sharp, so that's what we really need. And finally, the color will not be two distinctive. When we lift out the paint, we won't get a really white color, which is totally fine in this case because these highlights are not pure white. So now with a scrubber brush, I'm just lifting out the paint to create those lighter highlights. I'm using my tried and tested Winsor and Newtons Galleria brush size four. But later, I will also switch to a different brush. I'm trying to create longer lines and some oval shapes to reflect more or less what I can see in the photo. Of course, we don't have to be super precise. We don't have to precisely recreate every single line, every highlight, every shape. Photo is just our inspiration. We know more or less how those shapes look. We tried to create them in our painting. It's not hyper realism. We're creating just an impression. I changed my brush to Princeton snap shader number for this brush has much softer bristles allowing me to leafed out really thin lines. If I want to be precise, I'm using it now because it's just smaller and the other brush was too big for these shapes. Here I'm lifting out more paint and I'm going to apply a lighter green to this area. I think I went too dark here earlier. We can also bring out some highlights in the dogs reflection in the water. Remember that when we leave out the paint, we can apply some color to that place. Sometimes those highlights are just too pale when we lift up the paint. So a thin layer of paint off some color might be necessary. When you're happy with your highlights. We can move on to the next step and start painting the ducks. 6. Ducks - Initial Layer: When everything is dry, we can remove masking fluid from the ducks. I'm using a rubber masking pickup tool. It's always better to make movements from the inside towards the outside. If we did it the other way round, we could drag some paint to our masked area. I like when masking comes off like this, when I can pull it off in one piece. It usually happens when masking fluid has been applied in a thick layer and the masking is still fresh and good to use. That's nice. However, here maybe, maybe you can see this. I don't know if camera we'll pick this up. But my masking fluid left a very light yellow tinge on the paper. This is a sign that I didn't mix my masking well and the yellow pigment was too concentrated. That was the case for sure because I didn't use that masking for over three months and the yellow pigment just settle down in one place. I saw that in that battle. I didn't rotate my battle long enough so the pigment didn't have a chance to dissolve well in the masking in the fluid. So that's a lesson for us. That tinge is very, very pale and the color is not a problem in this case. But it could be a problem if it was something that should remain white, e.g. let's prepare some basic colors that we're going to use for this initial layer, we need a few colors here. The first one will be a very pale brown, a mix of burnt sienna, touch of permanent rose will also need a very orangey brown color. I think that a mix of burnt sienna and Winsor yellow deep will work well for that. It will be our golden color. Another mix will be the shadow color. The shadow area on the DAG has unusual color really. We don't have to mix exactly the same colors, of course, but we'll try to match something close. I think it looks like a very, very dark purple. I can see some browns and Violet's there, but the saturation is very low. Let's start with burnt sienna as a base. Let's add permanent rose to this and then Windsor blue, green shade. My thought process goes like this. The base hue is brown, but it's leaning towards violet. Afford the violet, we can use blue that we already have used for the water. So Winsor blue. But to get violet, we also need red. So we can add permanent rose, which we already added to the first mix. And I'm also going to use it for the beak. So this way I'm trying to use the same colors to keep the color harmony. Because Windsor Blue has a greenish shade, the resulting violet will not be saturated, and the burnt sienna will dial it down even more. Also because brown and blue are complimentary colors. I'm also going to keep more Winsor blue on the side and the burnt sienna just in case if I need to shift the color more towards blue or brown, or if I just wanted to use cleaner blue or brown. I'm going to use a brush size eight now, and we'll be painting wet on dry. So we don't have to apply an initial water layer first. I'm not using wet on wet technique because with this size of the brush on such a small area, I can play around with the colors without worrying too much about hard edges. Besides, this is just an initial layers so we can make some mistakes that we can cover later with the next layers. Now, our objective at this stage is to cover the ducks with basic colors, but leaving some unpainted areas in the lightest parts for the highlights. I'm starting with my brownish pinkish color, our first mix, and I'm applying this color to the tail and the wings. Notice that my color is really well diluted. It's quite pale and very watery. I would say this is like a T wash. So it's almost like water just changed with that brown color. Close to the neck, I'm dropping in that nice golden brown mix of burnt sienna and Winsor, yellow deep. I'm not very precise when it comes to colors. I'm looking at the reference photo, of course, but I'm trying to pick up the very basic information about color and tone. So I'm thinking, Okay, so here this area is very light, so I cannot go too dark. Close to the neck. I have to throw in some of that golden color. And at the bottom, I want to suggest that shadow with my shadow color. And that's all. As you can see, my colors are blending with each other and that is totally fine. They create new colors on the paper, New mixes, and that's absolutely fine. I'm focusing on the lightest colors at this stage. I want to lock them in. If I can say like this. Here I'm dropping in our golden brown by just tapping the brush on the surface of the paper. This way, I'm also starting to create some basic textures. When all colors are mingling on the paper, it adds some more interest. Remember that nobody's going to see the reference photo and nobody's going to compare your painting with the reference. So we can be creative. Again. We're not painting in hyper-realistic style. I'm starting with the golden brown on the head and then I'm adding the neutral gray. For that gray, I'm using our shadow color with slightly more Winsor blue. We could even add cobalt blue to make this color even more neutral. I think I will add some cobalt blue later as well. The idea is just to stay within the same color range all the time to keep the color harmony. That's why I don't want to introduce e.g. ultramarine blue, which makes perfect neutral gray with burnt sienna. Just because I won't use it anywhere else in this painting. And I don't really need to create gray with that blue if I can use other colors, other blues that I have already used in the painting. There is more brown on the chest. My base brown is burnt sienna of course. But I'm using also my shadow color in the darker and more neutral areas. Now leave this layer to dry completely. I just want to do one more thing. In this part. I'm softening the edge of the green paint in the place where the leg goes under the water. We can now move on to the next step. 7. Dark Tones: Make sure that everything is totally dry. I'm going to use a smaller brush now, a size four because now will have to be a bit more precise. We're going to paint the darkest areas. It's always good to paint the darkest areas, darkest tone as soon as possible. Because dark tones are always great reference points for other areas. Thanks to them, we know how dark we can go with other colors. So they are very helpful. Remember that towns are always more important than colors at this stage will need black color. To achieve that, Let's mix burnt sienna and Payne's gray. This makes, will give us a great black color. We could mix burnt sienna with Winsor blue, which we have already used in the painting. However, I think that the resulting black would be slightly too greenish because that blue has a greenish green shade. Payne's gray is more neutral and the black it creates is more neutral as well. And it can go really, really dark. I'm starting by applying burnt sienna on the tail. But as I'm approaching the darkest parts of the dark, I'm switching to our black mix. We want to create that nice transition from brown to black. Notice again that my paint is not thick. It's very dark, but it's still watery. Thanks to that, I have more time to mix colors on the paper. And they also create smoother transitions. Here we can create a nice one and using irregular brushstrokes. Again, we're just creating an impression. We don't have to recreate each and every dark feather here exactly. Now fill the rest with the black, leaving some lighter areas here and there. Repeat the same process on the other duck. Start with Brown and transition to black. The neck start with a dark brown on the left. Use burnt sienna with a touch of black to make it darker. Notice that on the left side of the neck, there is a highlight. Tried to leave an unpainted stripe on that edge. I'm adding more brown on the chest. Let's call this area like this. And I'm trying to soften the edges. This is what I call a forgotten edge. I'm not sure yet what to do with this area. And I'm going to take care of it later. So now I just want to smooth everything out and I can forget about it for now. I'll come back to that area later. I just noticed little reflection in the water. So I'm again using that turquoise mix to add the reflection. I'm changing my brush to add triple zero spotter brush now because I want to paint the eyes. The eyes are really small here, so I had to switch to a smaller brush I'm using are black mix and I'm just feeling the eyes with that black. You can see some reflections in the eyes. We will add them later with some gouache. 8. Initial Details: In this part, we're going to add some initial details on the wings. I'm going to use a spotter brush size to, because I like to use powders for details, but it can be any brush really. With spiders, I just have more control over the paint. I'm preparing some dark neutral brown and mix of burnt sienna with Winsor blue. If you find it too greenish, you can add a touch of permanent rose to neutralize that greenish shade. Now the general idea at this stage is to create a clear distinction between individual feathers. So our aim is to paint some suggestions of shadows under the feathers and mark the edges of the feathers. Additionally, we can start adding some patterns. Here on the longer feathers. I'm using longer brushstrokes on the edges are actually under the edges because I'm thinking about the shadows here. It's actually the shadows that create the feather shapes here. And in the shadow area, I'm using some browns, black, even blue, just to introduce some variety in color. For a smaller feathers on the wings, I'm using short brush strokes to suggest more texture. I'm also trying to arrange my brush strokes in a way that resembles edges of the feathers. Notice that these aren't shapes are the edges of the feathers. I'm also starting with light tones. And then I come back to the same places with darker paint. So the first brushstrokes are alike. A test, I'm testing whether I'm placing them in the correct position, in the right place. And if it looks good and I'm sure that it's fine, I go back with a darker color and make the marks more distinct. Repeat the same process in the other duck. 9. Finishing the Ducks: This will probably be the most chaotic part, but it was really hard for me to divide it into some reasonable parts. It's just how the process of painting goes. I suggest that you watch this part, this whole part first to see what you can expect, and then come back to follow my steps. Let's start by preparing a basic shadow mix, a mix of burnt sienna, Winsor blue, and the permanent rose. Apply this color using wet on dry technique on the wing. In the dark area with the darkest shadow. Use a light tone. Don't go too dark yet. Applied at the bottom of the wing where there is that sharp edge and soften it towards the upper part. Now, add Payne's gray to your shadow mix and dropping that darker tone at the bottom of that shadow. While the paint is still wet. Let this dark colors spread into wet paint on the paper. Now, use burnt sienna and added in the upper part. Make that golden area more intense and dropping some yellowy brown color there. I'm using now a brush size eight, so it's not a small brush. Thanks to that, I'm not focus too much on the details. Our aim at this stage is to add middle values entered paint the final colors on the ducks. We want to think in big areas now. We want to cover big areas. Think in terms of light and dark. Don't be too focused on the colors. It's much more important to leave light areas light and dark and areas that need darkening. Don't worry if the paint spreads too much. If it mingles with other colors, that's fine. The result will be more painterly. We don't want to be super precise. Repeat this on the other duck. Start with some light tones. Test the colors, test the town. And then while the paint is still wet, drop in some darker tones. At this stage, we will lose some details from the previous part, but we don't worry about that. We will add more details later. Make the colors richer, more saturated. Here, I want to add more golden brown. Add darker brown to the neck. Use burnt sienna with some blues. The upper part of the neck and the head have more neutral grayish brown colors. Use burnt sienna with some blue. Try Windsor blue, Payne's gray and cobalt blue. Test them all with burnt sienna and see what makes us you're getting. With cobalt blue, they mix is the most natural and neutral. With Winsor blue, it's more greenish. We have Payne's gray. You can create a very dark neutral brown. Play around with the colors. Always start with a light tone and then drop in darker and darker tones until you get the right color and tone. It's just a process of constant adjustments. Notice that there is a subtle shadow close to the cheek area. It helps to create that rounded form of the cheek. There is also a darker tone close to the eyes. The more yellows and browns at the top of the head. To make the colors more intense. I noticed that this part of the wing is too white. So I decided to drop in some of the golden color. When it comes to the beak, start with a Winsor, yellow deep first, and then shift to permanent rose. Notice that there is a highlight in the upper part of the beak. So leave that upper edge white, covered the beak with that pink. This is just an initial layer. Add slightly darker tone on the neck, just below the cheek to make it more distinct. I'm coming back to the neck area and I'm adding even darker brown. I'm also playing a neutral grayish brown color on the leg. Paint the head of the other duck. Notice here a very important thing. The neck of the dark is dark brown at the bottom and it gets lighter towards the head. But more importantly, the tone at the bottom is much darker than the tone of the head of the dark in front. So make sure that there is a clear distinction between the dark tone of the neck in the back, the light tone of the head in the front. This is crucial if you want to create that impression that one of the dark is behind the other. Again, make sure to add darker tone close to the eye and under the cheek. And also apply more golden color on the head to make it more intense. Again, under beacuse, a Winsor yellow deep and permanent rose. Now I squeezed just a tiny bit of white gouache on a piece of paper. I'm mixing cobalt blue with white gouache. And I'm using this light blue opaque color to paint some SKY reflections in the eyes. Just a few simple dots. Now it's time to add some details on the beaks and also make the colors more intense. To paint the line between the upper and the lower part of the beak. Use permanent rose mixed with any of our shadow color. It doesn't really matter which one you choose. We just need a little bit darker, permanent rose. Draw a line at the bottom and paint a shadow on the lower part of the beak. Now, use again permanent rose with the Winsor yellow deep. And add those colors to the beak again. This time making sure that the color is more intense, permanent rose when it's mixed with yellow, it creates read. We can use it to intensify the colors. Finally, there are a few more details that we can add to make the feathers look more interesting. First of all, I'm starting by lifting out the paint from the highlight areas. I'm smoothing out the highlight on the left side of the neck. And then I'm lifting out shirt, lighter lines on the feathers. Now with a darker color. I'm adding more darker lines to create an impression of feathery texture. In the golden brown area, I'm using burnt sienna to create those tiny little feathers there. It almost look like scales on the fish here. I've lost that pattern on the wings. So now when everything is dry, I just want to add those lines to suggest more individual feathers and the pattern they create. Finally, I decided to apply one more black layer here to make the black darker. And that was the last thing I did after that, signed the painting. And I could call it finished. I really enjoyed this painting. I think that the water looks quite impressive. And it was actually easier to paint than I thought it will be. I hope you'll like the videos and you'll give this painting and go. Thank you very much for watching and happy painting. Bye.