Paint a Watercolor Penguin | Daniela Mellen | Skillshare

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Paint a Watercolor Penguin

teacher avatar Daniela Mellen, Artist & Author

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.

      Watercolor Penguin Intro


    • 2.

      Class Supplies


    • 3.

      Using the Template


    • 4.

      Painting the Penguin Head


    • 5.

      Painting the Penguin Body


    • 6.

      Painting the Star


    • 7.

      Painting the Scarf


    • 8.

      Adding Final Layers


    • 9.

      Penguin Variation #2


    • 10.

      Penguin Variation #3


    • 11.

      11 Class Wrap Up


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About This Class

About This Class

Paint a Watercolor Penguin

We will paint a penguin chick using basic watercolor tools and supplies. We will practice wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry techniques to achieve a beautiful watercolor result. Penguin chicks have a black fur hair and a white fur body. We will mix our own grays to achieve shading and intense color. We will touch on color theory to make colors more intense for the shadows.

The class includes a downloable Penguin Template to help you get started with your sketch. You can also sketch the shape freehand or modify the template to include additional features and elements.

This class includes a downloadable Supply List to help you get started, as well as the downloadable template. There is also a reference sheet for elements from the class.

The class is broken down into lessons:

  • Class Supplies
  • Using the Template
  • Painting the Penguin Head
  • Painting the Penguin Body
  • Painting the Star
  • Painting the Scarf
  • Painting the Final Layers
  • Penguin Variation #2
  • Penguin Variation #3 

Other classes you may enjoy using watercolors and similar techniques include

Watercolor Snowmen

Tasty Treats: Watercolor Cranberry Bites

Watercolor Christmas Cookies

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Daniela Mellen

Artist & Author


I'm an artist and author living in coastal Florida and surrounded by plants, animals, marine life, and the warm sun - all things that inspire me.

I am drawn to creating things and love to get lost in projects. Each day is an opportunity to learn something new, build on existing skills, and branch out to new ones. I was formally trained as an educator which is my passion and incorporating art into teaching makes my life complete.

As of March 2023 I have a catalog of classes on Skillshare. You'll see handmade books, memory keeping, watercolor, acrylic paint, unique art supplies, and photography composition. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to seeing your work.

Check out my Patreon Channel or my YouTube Channel for additional class info... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Watercolor Penguin Intro: [MUSIC] Hello, I'm Daniella Mellen, an author and artist here in Skill Share. Welcome to my class, painted a watercolor penguin. In today's class, we will paint a penguin chick by mixing our own graze from orange, green, and blue pigments. We will use the wet on wet painting technique, the wet and dry technique and we will get into some color theory by mixing colors with their complementary shades. For your class project, you can create a penguin based on the one shown in class or you can combine elements from all three variations to form your very own penguin. I've included a downloadable class template that will help you sketch out your penguin. Then I'll show you how to modify it to include different elements. When you're finished with this class, you'll have all the tools to create your very own watercolor penguin. The image will be great for a journal, for watercolor practice or to use in greeting cards. I hope you'll sketch and paint your own penguin and post your work in the project section of this class, and if you'd like to post your work on Instagram, use the hashtag watercolor penguin, and I'll follow along. Thank you for joining me. Let's get started. 2. Class Supplies: The supplies for the Watercolor Penguin Class are the template that you can download in the class project section, you'll need some five by seven watercolor paper, I cut just watercolor paper into the five by seven sides. You can use any size, but this is the size that I designed the template for. Some watercolor brushes, a pencil and eraser, a pipette, if you'd like, some jugs of water, a pair of scissors, a white gel pen to use to add highlights after the work is painted and dried, a paper towel and your watercolor paints. Here I had them in a tube and I squeeze them out into the wells inside my palette. 3. Using the Template: To use the template, just print it out and with a pair of scissors, cut around the size and the shape. Then take your template, place it on your paper where you'd like it, and with your pencil lightly trace around the shape. This will give you a sillow head. If you'd like to freehand your shape, go right ahead. Now from here you could add the details or modify it, which I'll show you in the end of this class. So here I would just create the shape of the scarf, create the shape of the head and then I would just spend a little time getting the details the exact way I wanted them. Then we're ready to start painting. 4. Painting the Penguin Head: To make a penguin chick, we're going to use a dark color for what would normally we could think of in generic terms is just black areas of the penguin. Then we'll shade the rest of his body. The chicks have a black helmet like, and then their body is gray. We'll make some fun colors to do that. We're not going to use black from the tube. We're going to mix our own. It's going to be a gray and I think that looks really beautiful and very effective. Some red and some green. Because we want this to be the main color on the penguin, i'm going to mix quite a bit of it. Then I will add some green to that. It's not going to produce a terribly attractive color. It's not going to be bright, but it will be vibrant. Here it's almost a purple. I could add a little more green. You play around until you get the ratio that you like and the look that you like. Here it's a little darker. We could go with one more about green. We have a nice dark color there. I'm going to add blue. The blue gives us a little more depth in a little more richness while adding a little darkness as well. I like that look. If I want, I can go back in and mix more red or more green to get the exact shade that I want. But i'm happy with that color for now. To start with the head, I'll turn my piece upside down so it's easier to work with. With some clear water. I'm going to paint what I call the helmet of the penguin chick. I'm going to saturate the paper, not flooded but just saturated. If it's too wet I'll dry it with a paper towel. I'm trying to stay within the lines. I'll leave just a little space of dry paper between the line and the wet water that I put on. Going with a smaller brush. What I want the color to do is gradually fade to light at what would be the top of the paper if it was being held correctly? I will add the pigment in at the base here. We can see that's a little bit green for me. What I'm going to do is add a little more red. Then I'll just go over the color that we've painted. Drop it in. Then I'll go back with my smaller brush. You could use black from the tube, but I was hoping to use a richer, more interesting color. Sometimes the black dries very flat, straight from the tube. That's not the look I'm going for today. I like that color. It's intriguing and dark. I'll double a lot more pigment. When it dries, it dries paler, but I want it to be nicely, richly pigment, especially towards the neck area. I'm going to make sure there's a lot of pigment there. I'll hold my paper upside down and see if it runs at all. Now I'll just guide a little bit more water, a little more pigment. The top half of these face. I'll take my brush, dip it in. By dipping it into the water, i'm lightening the pigment a little. The top of the head is much lighter than the rest of the head that we did. I'm going to let that dry, change my water and we'll come back and work on the body. 5. Painting the Penguin Body: I want to work on the body and adding some shade to the body while still maintaining a white or gray body of the penguin. But a turn my piece to the side, and using clear water, I'll start at the base and I'm just going to paint clear water on the base part and saturate my paper. Next I'm going to take the small brush. I'm using my pigment, and if it's dry, I'll just rewrite it with a little water, I can always add more color if I feel it's fading. But I'm looking for a very light color on the base. I'll take my pigment on my brush and add just a little bit of water to that. Now will just enough water, just enough paint on my brush to control, I'm just going to outline the body. Before it dries, I'll clean my brush and while it's wet, I'll just move some of this pigment around so there are no harsh lines. Looks good, and I'll come back and outline where the star and the arms cast a little bit of shadow onto the lower body part. Same thing here with the scarf. I'll go back and wet my brush and add just a little bit of pigment to it very faint, and I'll blend that out. I like the affected gives. Got to go back in with just a little pigment on my brush and add a little more pigment to the edge here. I'll do the same thing on this side. Little heavier at the bottom than at the top, but I just don't want any harsh lines. Now rinse off and we'll work on our middle section of the body. Same procedure, clear water first, and I'm being very careful not to let the bottom part of the body and the arm blended together. By being very careful, I mean, I'm leaving a spot of dry paper in between so the water can't blend together. Then I'll go on with my small brush, my pigment, I'll start on the right-hand side here. The little arm or flipper, and then I'll do this. Go in with a clear brush, bleed some of that out, and this line is a little too harsh for me, so I'm going to go in and down a little more pigment, let It bleed somewhat more, and the same thing over here. I'll come to this side of the body and do the same thing. Being very careful not to wet the bottom half. Once I have the colors down, I'll go in with a lighter brush, just a tiny bit of pigment and bleed out any harsh lines, and a little more shadow underneath the scarf, and underneath the star. We'll let that sit and we'll come back and add more details. 6. Painting the Star: Now that our layers have dried, we'll start with the star. Again, we'll do the same thing we usually do for watercolor techniques. I'll paint a layer of clear water. Then we'll mix up a color for that star. I want it to be a very vibrant yellow, lighter on the inside and darker on the edges. I'll mix up a yellow, orange and yellow together, and then I'll put over here just a little bit of a much lighter yellow. We'll just drop some of that lighter yellow on the outer parts and the center. Then with a smaller brush, I'll go in and add my darker pigment to the edges. Will let the colors bleed together for and produce an effect. Will go in with my lighter yellow again and just drop that in the center. Help that to bleed some of the darker yellow. Now go in with just one drop of clear water in the center to lighten that up. Now work on the nose. The nose is going to be a very pale gray. I'll take some of that pigment and mix just a little bit of water with that and I'll paint the nose just slightly with clear water and even a smaller brush so I can have more control over the paint. I'll drip in some of the pale gray and some clear water. I'll go in with my darker pigment to the eyes. Going to load the brush with pigment and then small short strokes, I'll create that shape that I like. 7. Painting the Scarf: To make a nice red scarf, I will paint clear water on the scarf, keeping dry spaces between these different sections of the scarf. I'll go in with my red. I'm taking my red, mixing a lot of pigment, and I'm going to add just a drop of green, just a little bit of green, and that'll wake up the red a little bit. Give a little contrast. Not too much, if it goes too much, I'll add more red to compensate, but I like that color. You can start on the outer edge. I'm going to leave the top knot unpainted for now, and so I want to go in and work on some of these shadows for the rest of the scarf. Anywhere where the two fabrics meet, it'll cast a little bit of a shadow, so I want that area to be a little darker. For example, over here to the right of the knot, I want it to be very dark right where the knot meets and the same thing underneath. Now, here we have an interesting situation on the scarf because the scarf is following the body and puffing out over the the flipper, so we're going to have to shadow this accordingly. The furthest away from where the eye sees, up close to the body behind the flipper, we'll add a little more pigment, and when this is dry we'll come in and add even more pigment. Then we'll work on this side of the scarf. I'm going to drop in a lot of pigment right where the knot and the scarf meet and a right on the edge here because that's furthest from the body. Same thing over here and underneath the scarf as well. It's most dark where the shadow is from the top knot. Then this scarf piece over here that's underneath the knot, but also behind the first layer of the scarf has to be a little darker. So I'll take some more red and I'll mix with even more green. Again, not to turn the red green, but just to give it a little darkness. You can see it's a little darker here. I'm going to add that. Then it's not dry, but it is more dryer and the pigment is absorbing into the paper. I'm going to go over here where the flipper and the body meet, creating a little more shadow, following the line of the flipper and I'll just pull some of that pigment up. Same thing, I'll start at the base here and add a little more darkness. I'll go back in with the damp brush with a little bit of red pigment on it and just feather that out so it's not a hash line. We'll let this dry and we'll come back and add the final touches as well as the top knot of the scarf. I want to go back in there with a little darker yellow and emphasize the borders of the star, really make it pop. So I'm going in with the yellow and filling in any white space, and I'll go underneath the flippers as well, where they cast a little bit of a shadow onto the star. Now, I'll go in with a little bit of a lighter color and just blend those edges out, so there's a little gradient. Now for the top knot, I'll re-wet my square and I want to leave a highlight. So I'm going to try and leave a little bit of this paper dry on the left-hand side. If it does fill in, that's okay, we can go over it with a gel pen after it's dry to create a highlight. We have our first layer of a knot, and now I'll just add more pigment closest to the edges and let it bleed into the center. We'll let that dry thoroughly and then we'll come and do final touches on the penguin. 8. Adding Final Layers: So now, I want to create even more shadow on the scarf, so I'll make sure that my red is wet and then it will increase the intensity of the pigment, adding more red and a little bit of that green. Paint over that, then I'll go in with a wet brush and just blend it out a little bit. We can continue to do this until you get the intensity of color that you'd like of pigment. I want to work on the face, so I'm going to take a little bit of clear water and a teeny bit of Pink to create a very pale Pink for the cheeks. First, I'll put clear water on the cheeks, distant to circles and then I'll drop my very pale pink right in there. Will let that dry. I work on the base here, use my medium brush. With some clear water, I'm just going to ground the penguin, so I make it clear line. I'll take some medium blue and go around the top of it and then with a smaller brush, I'll go in with a darker blue. I'm just going to use the darker blue to create the horizon line really. Now, with a very small brush, we can work on the final details. I want to create the head here to have a little bit of shape as if it was fur. So I'll just take a very fine brush and some of our black color that we mixed, and I'm going to start at the base with the darker color. I'm just going to make little lines to indicate that it's fur, teeny little strokes. I'll go up about halfway up the head, and then I need to lighten the color of the pigment we used to coordinate with the much lighter color we painted in already. So I do that by dabbing a little water. Same thing, this continue up most of the head. Very fine little strokes. I'll dab wet water when we're trying to make it even more watered-down version for the top of the head. Just want these little strokes and then I'll go in and just blend them where they meet, on the head. I want to do that on the body also, so I'll get some water down, pigment, and I'll just make my teeny little marks. Now, I want to go in, finish the cheeks here around that shape a little more. I want to go in and one more time I went to work on that scarf. I'm really not happy with the way the scarf came out. I'll add a little more red and I'll take a little bit of the black pigment we used to darken up our red, and I'll just outline the scarf. Small strokes, I'm much happier with that. It's already coming together the way I was hoping. There we have our Penguin. 9. Penguin Variation #2: For our first modification, using the template, I drew the shape instead of having like ball-shaped as if it was a snowman, I drew a bowling pin shape. I think that looks like a cute alternative shape for a penguin. I made the arms tapered and I changed our star for a heart. I removed the scarf and added a hat with a palm palm. I'll show you this sped up the process of the painting and then I'll stop it when we work on the hat and the star as well as the neck area to show you the different techniques used for creating a modified penguin. Now to do the neck, I want to create just a little shadow coming from where the neck and the body meet. I'll take a wet brush and just line the neck. Then using a very small brush, I'll drop in some pigment and let it bleed. I'll use small short strokes and then add just a little water here to bleed it out a little more so it's a little more even. I don't want any white paper gaps between the head and the body. We'll let that dry, come back and do the rest of the features. Now that the layers are dry, we'll work on our heart and our hat on this penguin. I'll paint clear water on the heart. We'll choose a color. We'll make it unusual instead of red or pink, we'll go with a blue. I'll mix two colors over here. Very bright blue and a lighter blue. I'm going to mix a teeny bit of orange with the darker blue. It's compliment and it'll just pop it out a little. Then with my small brush, I'm going to go in and outline it with the darker blue. Dropping more pigment, create a nice vibrant color. I'll go in with my lighter blue. Drop that in so it a can blend. I'll add some of the darker blue until I get the look I want and I'll very carefully fill in any of the white spots. Dropping the lighter blue, then I'm just dropping just a little bit of water in the center, and we'll see what effect that has. Then we'll go to the hat because I'm going to do a striped hat instead of trying to leave the stripes white because I'm not going to do them white. I'm just going to paint a light color of blue over the entire hat. We'll use our light blue. First I'm going to paint clear water and keeping separate spaces between the palm palm, the hat and the brim. I'll going in with the light blue and I'll water it down to make it a little paler. Then I'll just paint the perimeter. We'll let that dry. I'll take my tiny brush and I'll work on the eyes. I'm just going to paint the little lines. Then the same thing with the nose, I'm going to paint a lighter version of the gray for the beak, and I'll drop in some darker pigment up top and let that blend together. Take my next smaller brush and using a very light, dark color, I got to just create the shadow of the closed eyes, just by filling in where the eyelid would be. Again, I'll take this light color and just go around the edge just to soften the blend, the change of color. We'll let this dry and we'll finish our final touches. Now in this penguin, I want to work on the horizon line here. Again, I'll just take my clear brush of clear water, go around the base, and I'm going to add a little bit of a purple to my blue here. I'm just going to drop that in. Now with clear water, I'll bleed out. With my smallest brush, I'm going go in with my dark blue pigment adding a little more blue to the dark color. Starting at the base of the hat, I'm going to create stripes. I'm going to pull the stripes up a little bit less than halfway. I'll do it on three of them and then I'll come over here and pull it straight down little less than halfway. I'll dip my brush in clear water and connect the stripes. I'll do the stripes on the top of the hat as well. Same way. A little bit deeper, intense color, and then connect it with clear water. Now for the palm palm, I'm just going to shade it. I use clear water or I had a little bit of blue on my brush, so I'll just keep that intact. Then I'll just drop the darker blue. Then with a little bit of blue that's on my brush, I'll just outline the entire palm palm and the entire hat. I'll take a little bit of pigment on my brush and I'm just going to go imitating the lines that exist and make just little jagged lines on either side, just following that striped pattern. I'll go with a darker pigment. Any stripe that I want to emphasize, I'll tidy up a little. Now I'll add a little bit of rosy cheeks. There we have our penguin with a heart and a hat. 10. Penguin Variation #3: The third modification is a penguin with earmuffs a neck warmer and holding a tree. I already painted in the body and the head, just the same procedure we did before. I mixed a color that was more darker with a little more green than the previous colors we used. Again, these are all variations on a gray. I'll start with a tree and clear water, and I'll go in with my small brush. I'm blending out lines on these edges. Then I'll drop in a lighter green. Then I'll go in with a brown for the trunk. For the earmuffs, I think we'll do yellow earmuffs. I'll go in with clear water. I think we'll do a blue band on the muff, so I will just put clear water and then go in with some blue, and just let it bleed out. Over here, I combined the muff with the band, so I'm just going to in with a paper towel, pick up some of that pigment, and then carefully apply the blue back without letting it bleed into the yellow. I'll add a lighter gray nose. Little bit of rosy cheeks. Now, we'll work on the neck warmer. I think I'll make that a nice vibrant purple. Paint clear water down, and then mix some purple. Want to mix some blue into that, and I'll go around the edges first. Just following the lines of the wrinkles, the folds of the fabric. We'll let that dry and we'll come back and add some shading to the rest of our piece. To finish up our penguin, we're going to add the base and some shadows and then the eyes. Just take some clear water and a little bit of the blue, and create a base just to ground the piece. Then with smallest brush we'll go over with the darkest color, create the eyes. Then I want to outline the earmuffs with the yellow, but just a regular yellow isn't going to show up. I'll wet it, so we have a lot of pigment. Then I'm going to add just the tiniest amount of purple, which is the complement of the yellow, and hopefully that will brighten it up or darken it up a little, but won't change it. There we go, let's go to outline, and then blend that out just slightly. Do the same with the blue, take a little bit of blue and just a tad of orange, and I'll just outline the band here. Then pull some color just to create a shadow from where it's closest to the muffs, blend that out. We're going to take a little bit of the dark color, the dark pigment and just emphasize the arms here by outlining them, teeny bit. Same thing underneath the neck warmer, I'm going to add a little of the dark color, and then I'll blend that out a little bit. I'll go in with a brown and just touch up the boundary of the tree, a tree trunk here. Then I'll go in with a little bit of the green and just sharpen the little spot of white. There we have our third modified penguin. 11. 11 Class Wrap Up: To wrap up the class, I want to show you how we started with the template, made our modifications, cut out our piece, traced it, and then drew and then painted our penguin. We started out with a penguin holding a star with a scarf. We had a little bit of texture for the hair, then we took the same template, modified it slightly, and came up with a penguin with a hat, with a pom pom and a heart. Then lastly, we took a penguin earmuffs and neck warmer and a tree. You can interchange any of the accessories, add some additional ones, perhaps a candy cane, a present, anything along that nature, change the hat or the headgear, maybe a Santa's hat or something along those lines, a headband. There you have many variations on the first penguin.