The Elephant Tree - Beginner Oil Painting Lesson | Tim Borkert | Skillshare

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The Elephant Tree - Beginner Oil Painting Lesson

teacher avatar Tim Borkert, Artist, Game Developer, Educator

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.

      What You Will Learn


    • 2.



    • 3.

      Supplies Needed


    • 4.

      Color Mixing


    • 5.

      The Underpainting


    • 6.

      The Background


    • 7.

      The Tree Trunk


    • 8.

      The Foliage


    • 9.

      Transferring The Elephant


    • 10.

      Painting The Elephant


    • 11.

      Final Touches


    • 12.

      Cleaning Your Brushes


    • 13.

      Thank You And About Me


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About This Class


Thank you for your interest in this class! I talk to people all the time who want to start painting in oils, but are too intimidated or overwhelmed to start. This lesson is designed as a perfect introduction to oil painting. Here you will learn what supplies you need, how to mix paint, how to paint with both thin and thick layers, how to transfer a drawing to canvas, and even how to clean up when you are done! 

We will be painting in layers, so expect 4 to 5 thirty minute to an hour painting sessions over the course of 4 to 5 days. It can also be done in acrylics if you choose. You could potentially finish this painting in a day if you use acrylics. 

You will see the entire painting done in real time. You will see every stroke of the brush with no painting cut out or sped up. When you complete this lesson you will have a beautiful painting to hang on your wall!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Tim Borkert

Artist, Game Developer, Educator



Hi! I'm Tim Borkert. 

I am an artist, programmer and educator. I use my art to pursue many endeavors, from fine art paintings, to video game development. 

Most of my art work comes from commissions. I love it when someone brings me an old picture of a homestead or view from their honeymoon that they want memorialized as a painting. It is truly humbling and an honor to be a part of their life in that way. My paintings are in collections all over the world.

I am a solo game developer and have created and released several games on various platforms. I have many years of experience teaching programing to both true beginners and advanced students.


See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. What You Will Learn: Hi. Do you want to learn to paint in oils? Do you want to paint something beautiful that will last for generations? Then this is the course for you. Oil painting is the most sought after medium of fine art. The best thing is, it's easy. This course will start out showing you the material you need. Then we'll get right to painting the beautiful elephant tree. You will learn how to mix paint, use mediums and all the basic brushstrokes you need, including impasto techniques. We will finish up by showing you how to clean up your brushes. Everything you need to know to finish this painting is included. You will see every brush stroke I make in real-time. No speed painting here. So what are you waiting for? Get started now and learn how to paint in oils. 2. Introduction: Hello. My name is Tim [inaudible]. I'm a professional landscape artist. I'd like to thank you for your interest in this class. We're going to paint this painting in oils. Now you could do it in acrylics if you like. However, oils will make it a whole lot easier. In acrylics, you won't be able to get the blended background quite as nice, but you'll be able to do just about everything else in acrylics if be like. I'm going to teach you how to do the background and the importance of a under painting. We're going to do the tree which is the focus of this painting and I'm going to teach you how to do the foliage using impasto for the leaves. We're going to learn about the reflection and how to do that. I'm going to teach you a super easy way of making the elephant. You do not need to have any drawing experience or really any art experience to be able to make this elephant. It's really quite easy. I'll be going over the supplies. You really don't need that much, but you do need a few things. I'll even be showing you how to clean your brushes and clean up when you're done. We'll also be on every color mixing and as you can tell, there's really not a whole lot of colors that you need to purchase for this painting. This lesson has done in layers. So it's going to take you between four and five days to get done and about 30 minute sessions each time. Now if you're using acrylics, you could potentially do it all in one day. You don't need any experience to finish this painting. In fact, it's designed so that a beginner can pick up from scratch and do this as their very first painting. You'll see the entire painting from start to finish. I'm not sped up the video or cut out any of the painting areas. All I've done is cut out the times when I've loaded my brush. I recommend that you watch the lesson before you do it. That way you'll know what's going on ahead of time. I hope you enjoy this lesson and I hope you are able to learn a lot and most of all, I hope you are able to have a lot of fun. 3. Supplies Needed: For this project, we don't need a ton of materials, but we do need some. If you are already into oil painting, then you'll probably have almost all of this stuff. But if you're new to it, you're going to have spent some money. You should be able to get everything you need for less than $100, if you shop frugally. If you buy top tier stuff, then it's going to be a lot more than that. To start out our canvas, we're going to use, you probably can't see it because of the glare, but it's a 12 by 24 inch canvas. It doesn't have to be a fancy canvas. These are a pretty common size. It's my preferred size, I love working on this size canvas. We're going to do an under painting on our canvas and do that, we're going to do that in acrylic. You're going to need some burnt sienna acrylic paint. You can go with the super cheap stuff in the art store, but don't go with the crafts stuff that you can find in the barrels, that's like $0.50 for a bottle. Don't go with that, go with one that's made for art. But you don't have to use a lot of my, it's going to be the under painting. You're going to need a brush for your acrylic paint and a palette. I have a actual palette here. You could use a paper plate, piece of cardboard, anything, and the brush can be super cheap, doesn't really matter. Now, for our oil painting itself, we're going to need a few paint colors. Not a whole lot. You're going to need Naples yellow. If you don't have Naples yellow, yellow Ochre would also work. Burnt umber. If you don't have burnt umber just about any brown would work. Phthalo turquoise, I really love this color, it can be hard to find. But any blue will work, if you can't find it. White, of course, this is a very good brand of white, it's very opaque, it's very creamy. It's made by Weber. You can find this at almost any art supply store, but if you can't, any titanium white will work fine. Then I've got cadmium red light, cadmium red, and cadmium red deep. I highly recommend buying all three of these. If you don't have them, you'll end up using them anyway. But if you can only afford one, get the cadmium red, and you can add a little bit of the Naples yellow, just a speck to make something similar to a cadmium red light, and you can use just a speck of your blue to make a cadmium red deep. Let's talk about the mediums that we're going to use. You definitely need Liquin, Liquin original. This helps us thin our paint and it makes it dry fast, we're going to be working in about four or five layers. If you don't use this, you're going to be waiting almost a week between layers. This will allow you to wait 12 hours to a day and you'll be fine to paint again. If you don't like Liquin original, you can also use Galkyd. You can also use Galkyd. I don't care for this as much, but some people like it a lot more. It's definitely worth trying, but it does the same thing. We're also going to use Liquin Impasto. This does the same thing as Liquin, only it allows us to have a thick paint. You don't need this for this painting, you can do it with just regular Liquin, this makes it a whole lot easier. Once you start using this stuff, it's hard to go back. This is really good stuff, this is a game changer. For brushes, you're going to need a one-inch flat brush. This is probably going to be your most expensive brush if you have to buy it. Now it doesn't have to look like this. It can look like one of these long brushes only has a one inch flat. This looks like a regular old paint brush that you get from the hardware store, but it's not. Don't use one of those. This has a stiff bristle, it's got beveled edges. It's a very different brush than a paint store painting brush. A number 4 Filbert hog's here brush, thick stiff bristles. A number 2 fan brush. If you don't have a number 2, you can use a different size. But it's also a thick, stiff bristle brush. A number 1 round, stiff bristles again. A number 8 round, and this is a watercolor brush, a soft tipped. This is different than these, it's not a hog's here. It's very soft. You find these in the acrylic or the watercolor section. This is actually really useful for blending. Then a zero soft bristle brush, round. That would be by in same section you could find these. None of these brushes have to be super fancy, I like the ones that are in Newton. They make a good brush for the stiff bristle brushes. These are just like my bargain bin, super cheap, 50 cent brushes. They don't have to be super fancy. You don't need super nice brushes for most anything. This one might cost you money though. This is also a stiff bristled brush. We're going to be using some palette knives. You really only need one. If you're going into get one, I recommend this type. You have two edges you can use the long the edge of the short edge. I really like these. I also use this one when I'm mixing. Having two knives makes it a lot easier. These aren't very expensive value. You can get plastic ones, but it's worth the money to get the metal once they last forever, if you take care of it. For a palette, I just use a piece of glass, and then when you're done, it's dried, you scrape it off. Now, since we're going to be doing this in layers, it's going to take several days to get it done. If you put penny tone here, it will dry if you leave it out, so you need to put it in something. It's a master's case, it opens up and you can stick your palette in there and it keeps it airtight. These can be expensive, and if you don't know if you're going to be using oil painting or not, I wouldn't get one right away. What you can do is just use some cellophane or some plastic wrap and put it over your paint, and that'll keep it airtight and work just fine. A lot of artists just do that. You're also going to need paper towels. Paper towels are extremely important when oil painting, you use them very much constantly. For clean up, you're going to want some odorless mineral spirits. I buy it in the big jug, but you can get them in little jugs for very inexpensive. A brush cleaning jar, this one's grody. But what it does, it's got a metal mesh in there and you scrub your brush against it. That's the materials we need. I know it seems a little overwhelming at first, but these are actually really basic supplies, and if you want to get into painting, you're going to need all of this stuff anyway. 4. Color Mixing: First thing we're going to do is we're going to mix up all of our colors. Now, I use a piece of glass for this, and that just makes it a really nice smooth surface to mix paint on. I'm starting out with Naples yellow, burnt umber, and some white, and that's going to be the colors that we use for our background. You don't need to use a lot of paint, but don't be afraid to use enough. You don't want to run out, that's for sure, and paint is cheap. I like to use two palette knives when I'm mixing paint, it makes it just a little bit easier. First, we're going to create a little bit of dark. I'm mixing the burnt umber and the Naples yellow, and I'm going to make a dark yellow. This is going to be our shadow, our darkest area of our background. We're also going to use this for the elephant itself. Just mix it till it's smoothly one color and then scrape it up off your glass, and then we'll deposit it where we want it. When you use two palette knives, you can pick up your paint and make a little ball with it, makes it a very neat way of keeping your paint without splattering everywhere. Next, we're going to make our lightest yellow to be our highlight yellow color, and as we paint, we'll add more white to this to make a really light color, but this is a good start. I'm going to mix just some of the Naples yellow and the white together, pretty simple mixture. Now I don't always mix up my paint ahead of time like this, but when I do, I'm always glad I do, it saves time, and when you plan like this, your final project can really look nice. You'll have a continuity of colors, if you plan it out, that is very pleasing. If you end up putting a whole rainbow colors on your palette, and then just start mixing as you need it, that certainly works and a lot of people do that, but it also can create a mishmash. I just added straight up Naples yellow as my third, as midtone of yellow. Now, for my blues, I'm going to be using cadmium red light and phthalo turquoise. Phthalo turquoise is a difficult color to find, but man, it's a nice color. By adding a little bit of the cadmium red light, it's going to make a deep, deep purple, doesn't take much, just a smidge of the cadmium red. This will be our shadow color, and it looks really nice. Now, if you don't have phthalo turquoise, you can use just about any blue, ultramarine blue would look nice with this. Just about any of the darker blues would be very nice. For my highlight color, I'm going to mix the phthalo turquoise and just white. It's just going to make a lighter color, and as we move along in the painting, we'll be adding more white to this color making it lighter and lighter. This is just a base to start with. You're going to have lots of different shades of your colors, and you do that by mixing in whites or by mixing in the opposite color. Like for blue, if we want to make it darker, we would add a red or an orange. Now off-camera, I'm wiping off my palette between the color mixes. That way, we don't get any tainting of the colors. If we got a little bit of blue in the yellow, it would really throw off our colors. You need to be careful when you're mixing this up and when you're mixing it when you're actually painting, that your colors stay clear and fresh. Now, my midtone for the blue is just going to be straight up phthalo turquoise. For the reds, I'm using a cadmium red deep, cadmium red, and cadmium red light. You don't have to buy all three if you don't want to, you could get by by adding a tiny bit of the blue to the cadmium red to make a cadmium red deep, I mean, just a tiny speck, the tiniest speck. You could add a little bit of the yellow to make the cadmium red light. You might need to add a little bit more of the yellow to do that, yellow is not the strongest of color. Now we're also going to have a very deep purple for the background of our foliage and to do that, we're going to mix some cadmium red deep and some phthalo turquoise just a little bit. You see how just a little bit of the blue is going to totally radically change this red. It's going to make it a very deep reddish purple. We're also going to go ahead and put our mediums on our palate with liquin. We're going to shake up our bottle a bit and put it down on one edge. You'll probably have to add more than what we put down here. You'll end up using a lot of liquin, but it's amazing, and it is a wonderful medium. I use it almost all the time. It's very rarely that I don't use liquin simply if nothing else because it makes it dry so much faster. We're also going to put out a little bit of the liquin impasto. We're not going to use as much as that, but it is also an amazing medium. If you haven't tried this, I super recommend it. You don't absolutely need it for this lesson, but man, it makes a huge difference, it's great. We're going to add white, and that pretty much shows our entire palette. Not pretty much but it does show our entire palettes, the colors that we're going to be using. It's pretty simple, a limit in color palette, and it's going to make for a great painting. 5. The Underpainting: We're going to start out with an underpainting in acrylic using burnt sienna. There's a number of reasons why we would use an underpainting. Most importantly, is it covers up the white area of the canvas so that doesn't poke through. Covering the canvas may sound like it would be an easy thing to do, but it's actually can be pretty difficult, in a lot of paintings. You have all pieces of white canvas peeking through, and that can really detract from the overall look of your painting. The other important factor is that, because something will peak through, you're not going to be able to get 100 percent coverage, most likely. You want something that's a complimentary color to the colors that we're going to be using. Burnt sienna for most landscapes works really well, it works well with blue in skies, it works well with the greens, it works well with yellows. We're going to use it actually, on purposely to peek through. We're going to paint over this with a yellow and we're going to scrape off the wet paint in some areas exposing this underpainting. It's going to look like some trees back in the distance. Now, why we do this in acrylic, is a couple of reasons also. Number one, is because it dries fast. If we do this, we can get to painting on our first layer within 15-20 minutes, no problem at all. You can paint oil over acrylic, but you cannot paint acrylic over oil. It's an important distinction. I'm not quite sure why it works that way, but I know that it does, and this puts a nice base for our oil painting to go on. Now, you don't have to be super picky here, you don't even have to be careful with the intensity of the color. Some sections can be lighter, some can be darker. That's really not a big deal. This isn't going to show through much at all. You don't have to worry too much about your brushstrokes. I'm going horizontally, because that's what I always do, you could go vertically and work just as well. You do want a smooth cover, you don't want a lot of brushstroke here, because those will show up in your final painting. But once we finish up with this underpainting, we can get ready on the actual painting inside of this painting. 6. The Background: Now we're going to start on the actual painting. Use your one-inch brush, and dip into a darker shade of our yellow, and we're going to go across the entire painting, up and down. You want to have an up and down stroke, that's very important at this stage. What we're going to have is trees in the background, that's just going to be very light. It's going to look like maybe it's dusty, or foggy, or something's going on in the background that makes it hard to see these trees. But it's a very dense forests in the background, and these up and down strokes are going to make it appear an illusion like there's a lot of trees in the back. Now you can use a lot of liquin with this. Dip your brush into the liquin, and then pick up the paint and go over it. That's a good idea because the Naples yellow that we use can dry very slowly, and if we don't use some liquin in with it, this layer could take days for it to dry. But if we add the liquin, it'll be done the next day. Now, notice how you can see the background peeking through, that's what we want. That's why we use the burnt sienna color because it works great for peeking through, and allows that variance in color, it looks really good. I'm doing the other side in that same darker yellow. We're going to have our lighter tones in the center and the outside is going to be the darker ones. It's good to use a stiff-bristled brush here because we're really moving that paint around. This is a very thin coat, and the thicker brush allows us to really work it into the canvas. If we hadn't painted the background, the undertone, the under painting, the burnt sienna, we'd have white peeking through and this would be way too white, it wouldn't look good at all. Now I'm using my Midtone color, and I'm going in, and we're going to work this back and forth to have a nice gradient. You're not going to be able to tell where the one starts and the other ends, and that's totally fine, that's what we want. This is pretty much straight up Naples Yellow. Doing it on the other side. In the very center, we're going to use our lightest tone. Just working it all in, and I've got some of the lighter on my brush when I do that and that's bringing it in. Keep in mind that you want your brushstrokes be up and down here. That's extremely important. Now the lower part of our canvas, the bottom two inches is not as important, although it is going to show up. But it doesn't have to match as perfectly. That's going to be water, and you mean reflection in the water. So if it's a little off, that's fine. In the center, I used the lightest of the yellow. It's hard to tell in a video, but it's there. It's very subdued. All I'm doing is I'm using my brush to blend it together. Going through, I decided this side's needed to have a little bit more darkness. So I went into that dark color again, and I'm filling that in a little bit better. When you're doing this, one of the things you want to avoid is making a perfectly even gradient. Like I said, this is going to look like a forest in the background. We're actually making trees way in the distance, so you don't want a perfect gradient like you would want on a sky. You want areas of light and areas of dark. Notice how I'm bringing some of the light over to the edge, and I'm adding more to this edge because the background is peeking through too much. Now I dipped into some white here because I wanted the area in the center to be even lighter than I could make with my lightest of my yellow. I'm just adding some white to it and blending that over. You could do that if you wanted the edges more dark, you could dip right into some darker paint and do that. Look at your painting and see what you think if you need to make it lighter, and if it needs it, then that's good, do it. Now notice the tip of my brush is barely touching the canvas, what I'm doing is I'm brushing out the brush strokes using a feather motion. If I used a mop brush, it would work also, but it would blend it too much. Now I'm going through with my fill brush, and I've dipped into the darkest of the paint. Really what I'm doing here is I'm scraping away the paint and exposing the under painting, more than adding paint to it. Now, in the center section, where it's the lightest, you do see some of the dark paint being put on, and these are trees. There is a couple of ways you can mess up here. The biggest way is by making your trees evenly spaced. In nature, you never see anything evenly spaced. So having at random. You don't even have to have your trees go all the way up. You can have a portion speaking out, it would be like the fog or the dust or whatever it is in this background is obscuring a portion of the trunk but not another. That's actually a nice look to it. Be careful in the center that you don't make it too dark. It is going to look like it recedes more in the center. These are all up and down strokes. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to go in my darkest color again, and using my fan brush, I'm creating a horizon line. It's going to be a line of grass. This is going to barely show in our final painting, but it is going to be a reference point and it will show a little bit, and it does make a big difference. You notice that I'm not really brushing like you would traditionally do with a fan brush. There's that hair that got stuck on my canvas there. That's going to happen. I'm taking the side of the fan brush and I'm tapping it. I'm just going to smudge it and make it look like a built-up grass. This is a really important technique that you're going to use a lot if you get into painting, or if you are Rdr, I'm sure you do use it. Now you don't want too much paint on your brush, you just want to coat it. But you don't want to fairly load it, but you don't want to put big blobs, because again, this is a background. Now I'm going to go through and I'm going to slightly smudge the paint up. This is going to make little grass blades sticking up, and prevent us from having a hard line. We're going to go across and we're going to do it across the entire painting. We'll skip a few spots that don't need it. Doing it in random areas gives it a nice random look, which is more realistic. We're also going to go through and we're going to blend down, because this bottom part is going to be water. You can actually blend this down and make these little grass leaves longer because it's a reflection. Reflections never reflect exactly what they are reflecting. It's an important distinction that we're going to use a lot this time. Just go all the way across, and we will have finished with our background layer. Now let this dry completely. You don't necessarily have to let it dry completely, but it helps a lot if you let it dry completely. Come back the next day for step two when we make the trunk. 7. The Tree Trunk: Now we're going to start the trunk of our tree and this is an important part of our painting, probably the most important part. This is the focal point of our painting. We're going to dip into the mid tone of the blue color that we mixed up and using our Philbrick brush, we're going to start painting out the trunk. Now, I highly recommend, you use a reference photo for this. Now, I am going off my imagination here, but I've painted trunks like this quite a bit. I recommend going online and finding a tree that you think looks cool or even better. Take this video and pause it, or take a screenshot of the finished trunk at the end of this video and look at that so you can copy it. Now this first section is very sketchy. It's just basically one color, one tone. It looks lighter in some areas that's just where my brushes run out of paint. It's not a big deal. We're going to go over all this again. We're just trying to define our limbs. You want it to be random. You don't want it to be squarely and snaky. You want to have lots of straight edges. This tree is going to have lots of very large branches that branch off of the trunk pretty quickly near the bottom. Looks like one of those super old,super cool oak trees that you often see in the South of the United States. I had a tree-like this growing in my front yard when I was a kid. Now I'm dipping into liquid and we're using a lot of liquid here. This is a really thin layer really of paint. The paint is just so strong, so pigmented that it looks dark. But there's not a build-up of paint at all. At this point, we will build some paint up on this trunk to give it some texture. But at the beginning we're just trying to get an outline. Don't worry about teeny tiny small branches. This isn't the type of painting that we're going to do. They only have large clumps of foliage coming off of these branches at the top. Most of the top and the edges here is going to be completely covered up. By the time we're done. The most important part is that center large trunk area. Mistakes to avoid here. The biggest one is that on trees, you never have a branch that is very rarely have a branch that gets wider the farther it goes out, usually gets smaller or stays the same. Be careful that your branches don't get wider as you go up your tree. Also, like I said before, make sure that you're using straight strokes, not curvy strokes, you don't really [inaudible] But generally you don't have S shapes or wormy, squarely snaky branches. Generally they come out in the straight area and then they stop, and they they move out. Now I feel that my trunk needs a little bit wider, so I'm just widening it here. It's really easy to make things larger. It's a lot more difficult to make them smaller. I am bringing the roots out. A lot of the bottom is going to be covered up by grass. It's not as important. Now I'm going through and I'm taking my soft bristled a round brush. This is a watercolor brush. I'm using it as a mop brush. I'm going through and I'm blending out my brush strokes. This really goes a long way in creating a smooth trunk that we're going to build texture onto but it helps a lot. This is a really neat trick that I've learned how to use. It makes a big difference. It's hard to tell in this video. But it really does a good job at smoothing out the trunk and smoothing out the colors. The other thing to watch out for is, you don't want your bark the outside of the tree to be perfectly straight. You want to have little imperfections in there. You're looking at a tree, you'll notice that it's not perfectly smooth from the site at all. It's got little bumps and knots in little pieces sticking it out. Using this soft bristle brush, I can start creating the shading and the contours of our branches. Notice right where I'm at right now. I've got that branch to the left that's actually in the foreground and the one next to it that's got the y sticking up that I'm working on right now is actually behind the two branches to the right and to the left. A lot of our detail can be implied using actual brushstrokes and not as much color. This blending takes time, you have to be careful. You don't want to be sloppy because you can mess up your shape. Go through and be careful, blend this together. Blend out the brush strokes. Notice, I'm moving the paint around a little bit here and I'm keeping the blending in line with where my branches are. Down here, you do the same thing at the roots, you are going to have a few roots to take different directions. You want to keep your brush moving in those directions. You don't want to go against the grain, I guess is another way of putting it. Your brushstrokes will determine which branches are in front of the other, which branches are pointing towards you and away from you. This is a 2D representation of a 3D object. You've got some difficulties here that you have to overcome and one of them is these branches in reality would be sticking out towards you and some of them will be going away from you. We show that by our brushstrokes. I actually picked up some paint there with my soft bristle brush because this branch was not dark enough. It's already starting to take shape, it looks pretty good. We still have a lot to do. You notice how this branch I just went over that one in the back that's showing that branch all the way to the right is in the very foreground pointing towards us. I'm going in with my darker shade of the blue and I'm adding some shadows. Shadows are going to happen where branches meet. Also, the left side of our painting is going to be in shadow R the right side is going to be our light source. You're going to make everything on the left side darker than the right side. You can add some dark areas in the middle down in here that's showing that your trunk is a three-dimensional has parts that stick out further than others, it creates shadows. This is where we're really getting into the meat. We can really show. Notice how I just made that branch, the shadow coming out just partially. That makes it look like that branch is coming towards us. Another portion is wide and out to going into the back. Using your light in your shadow areas really help us define and show where things are pointing. You can tell things are really starting to come together now. One thing that is extremely tempting to do here is to over blend your colors, to blend your darks, and your lights, and your mid tones together to make nice gradients. It's really tempting to do, because it's really easy to do. However, like we discussed before, trees are not perfectly smooth, and if you do that, it'll make it look plasticky. It won't make it look good at all. It's better to use not blended strokes. Blending is an important technique with the oil paintings and that's why we like to use oil. However, you got to be careful you don't over blend. Now you can really start to see in that main trunk section where the different branches branch out at, and how they are formed in, and which one is which. It's going to look even better when we put our highlight down. The branch is all the way to the left, they can be a lot more dark. They're going to be way in shadow of our foliage. We don't have to worry about highlighting them as much, and they can be very dark. Another thing to keep in mind when you're doing this is that you don't have to be perfect. No one's going to look at this painting and say, "The light should have hit there at a different angle," or something like that. This is slightly impressionistic. We're not making a photorealism here, so you don't need to worry about that too much, but you do want to get an accurate representation. What I'm doing here is I'm taking, I didn't add any paint to my brush here, I took what was already on the canvas, and I'm moving it back over the dark areas because it looks like those areas were a little bit too dark. What I'm doing here is, I'm just adjusting some of the light in the dark areas. Go back, step back. It's a good idea to step about six feet back from your painting and making the adjustments that you think are necessary. That's what you see me doing when I'm stepping away is, I'm looking at it to see what I think looking at the whole picture, I cut out a lot of the areas. Sometimes I'll stand back and look at it for 10 minutes and I cut all of that out, so you didn't have to just see me staring at my painting. Now I have our lighter shade of blue and I'm going to go through and put it in the highlights. It's going to really make things look nice. Remember the right side is where our light source is. Everything on the right is going to get this highlighted color. It's important when you're putting on your highlight that you go all the way to the edge of your trunk because that is where the light is hitting it the most. That's going to be the brightest actually. It's tempting to leave like a little dark edge because I'm afraid I'm going to mess up my edger, I want to preserve that. You need to go all the way to the edge, or it is going to look cartoony and not very good at all. But this light really makes you can start seeing it's really starting to pop. You can tell which branches are what. Go all the way to the edge. These outside branches aren't as important. They are going to be covered up with foliage, but there is going to be pieces that peak through. The better you do here, the better it's going to look in the final. Don't be afraid to go very light. You can always blend it back in, or add dark on top if you need to. Now the highlighting over here to the left of our tree is not going to be quite as intensive. It's going to need some, but you don't need to go quiet as light or do quite as much. May seem to you that I'm going really quickly here, and I am. But I'm taking my time also. You don't need to go this quickly. Don't feel bad if this has taken you a lot longer. That's totally okay. Speed will come with time. Speed really is not important. One of the reasons why I work with oils, is because it allows me to move slowly. I've paint some areas extremely slowly. I'm just even adding a lighter. What I've done is I've mixed a little bit of white in with our light blue. I'm going through and just adding a little bit of more highlight to a few of these areas.You can do this several times.The more different color layers you have, the better it's going to look. Just be sure when you're going over your highlights that you don't accidentally go over the dark areas that show the difference between the branches and where they branched out. It can be easy to focus on one section of your painting and then, what happened here? Now going through making the reflection in the water, remember reflections do not look like the actual thing being reflected is kind of a distortion of it. I'm sorry, my shoulders in the way there, but here you go. That's basically a blue blob. I'm just having the trunk reflected. Down into it I'm not reflecting any of the branches. Carefully I'm smudging it out. It looks like there might be ripples in the water. We're going to enhance this effects quite a bit. I stepped back and I realized that I needed a little bit more highlight on these branches.That's fine too. One of the nice things about oils especially if you're working on the same day, you can, if see something. It's a good idea, just take a 15, 20, 30 hour break and come back. You'd be amazed the way you see and what you decide needs to be adjusted. Another neat trick is to take a picture of your painting and look it on a screen. It's amazing how the different things you see, when it's just in different contexts. I know some artists will use a mirror and put their painting up to a mirror so they see it backwards. Seeing things from a different angle or after you've taken a rest can really make a difference and show you changes that need to be made on it. When you're working on oils you can go right back in and rework it very easily. Let's say that I over highlighted it. I decided that I made a mistake there. I can go back with my darker paint and I can undo it. In fact lots of times, I'll go through and in the very last step, as I go through and I'll add some more dark patches on top of the light. That's a cool effect you can do too. I'm just bringing some of this lighter paint down onto the reflection.This is going to be pretty well blended. Back. That's what I'm doing now I'm adding some dark areas, I think I over highlighted that section. I'm just going to right back over top of that with some darker paint. I'm dropping some dark sections into my light highlights, like little bumps that have created shadows. I'm going through using my same theme fan brush technique with the blue. I'm using the darkest blue right now. I'm just going to go all the way across creating the grass just like I did in our background layer. Goes really fast. Don't put down too much paint here. Just enough to cover the canvas. Again, just like in the trunk, I'm using a good [inaudible] liquid. This is not the final pass on this. Going through this area, making it a little bit thicker. Then I'm going through and I'm doing the same thing down in the bottom as if there is a reflection. Will create the waterline near the end of our painting. But just for right now, just keep in mind that this bottom land section the blue that we're working on is actually going to be cut in half. Because half of it is a reflection. Now just like before, I'm going to slightly the very light touch, bring this up so it looks like grass blades. Part of that background grass we made is going to pick through behind here. It looks really nice. I'm going go down and do the same thing for further reflection. I'm not really adding paint here, I'm just moving paint that's on the canvas already. I've added to my fan brush a mid-tone color, slightly lighter. I'm going to add another layer of grass here. This just take a very light touch. We're not going to do much and put it in all the areas either. We just going to add a little bit of depth. Look like the sun as glistening off a little bit of our grass here. Don't overdo this. I'm just brushing up, making the individual blades like we did before. Going down and doing the same thing for the reflection. Reflection can be a little bit lighter. You can use a little bit more light paint I guess this what I'm saying down under reflection. I'm going through and I've just taken my brush off to the side. This is making a little ripple reflect, well this paint is still wet in my water. We're going to do this a lot more later. But this gives a very settle slight effect that helps us imagine that this is actually water. That finishes up with our trunk. Next we're going to do the foliage. You can either let this dry or go ahead and do the foliage. The first step to the foliage now. This is totally up to you. Either way, the next step is to work on the foliage. 8. The Foliage: Now, we're going to start the foliage of our tree, and I take my one-inch brush the same what I use for my background, and I'm going to push the tip of it into the darkest portion of our red as the one that's mostly purple, the red and the blue mixed. Using quite a bit of liquid, want this to be pretty thin and I'm just tapping onto the canvas. You don't want to cover the whole area notice how I've got light or the background peeking through, that's important. All we're doing right here is creating the shape of where our foliage is going to be. A lot of this is going to be covered up by the actual leaves that we're going to paint in, but some of it is going to peek through, it's going to look like the dark areas like the shadow in deep inside the tree, and around the edges it's going to show up too. The only thing that you really need to watch out for is not to put too much down. You want this to be a fairly light covering. The shape isn't super important. We're just blocking in this area. Your tree will look different than mine, just try and decide where you want your leaves to go and put it down there. Now, the foliage is actually going to be about five layers. That was the first one this is the next one. I'm dipping into the darkest of the red, this would be the cadmium red deep. I basically just put in little checkmarks, or little dashes to make the leaves. I'm going to cover the entire foliage area with this. It takes a little time, it's a little tedious, but it's not too bad. I'm doing this all in real time here. This isn't sped up so you can see how fast it takes, I'm really not taking my time here, although you can there you have all the time in the world. Now, at this point I'm still just using a little bit of liquin, I'm using less liquin here than I was with the background, or the background of the foliage. Depending on how much liquin you use, you may start at this point, having trouble getting the paint to stick, which is fine. You actually wanted to mix in right here, as you can see, I'm mixing the paint on the canvas is dark, the closer in where there's more of the dark paint, and as I get to the edge, you can see it's lighter. A lot of this is going to be covered up in our final passes, but a lot of this is also going to show too, so you do want to be careful and make your best work here. As you see, I noticed I'm basically just dabbing it on. So it's a pretty simple brushstroke. One of the rules of thumb here is that each leaf should touch another leaf but I'm also leaving lots of blank spots in the back, you want the background to peek through in spots you want the dark to peek through but you don't want really any leaves just hanging out by themselves either. Now, like I've done in the past videos, I've cut out where I've dipped into the paint and loaded my brush just to save time, so you don't have to have time wasted with me doing that. In reality, this painting took about three times as long as what this video is because you spend a lot of time loading your brush and getting that just right. When you load your brush, you want it to be pretty heavy because we're putting a lot of paint down at this point and we're just going to put more and more starting with our next pass. This brush is a round brush, hogs hair brush. Really, you could get by with all sorts of brushes. You could even do this with a filler, but if you wanted to, but I think a round brush works really well. This layer is the one that takes the longest of all of them, the other ones are going to go pretty quickly. Notice how I'm holding the brush. I'm holding it fairly loosely in the back end of the brush, that gives me a very loose stroke. I give up a lot of control by holding it like this, but that's what you want here, you don't want a tight control stroke of your brush. You want it to be loose random and that will help with your final results quite a lot. Notice how thick this is going on. Now, it's very possible that by the time we finish this layer, you may need to stop and let it dry overnight. Now, I'm going to keep going I don't have too much liquin on my canvas at this point, so it's still sticking. On our next passes, it's going to stick a little bit easier as we're going to use even thicker paint. We're going to use the liquin impasto that we put on our palette. Now, if you don't have that, you're definitely going to have to do this in more than one layer and let it dry overnight between layers because we're getting lots of paint. The more oil you get on your canvas, the less that it wants to stick and wants to stay on your brush. We want to have a nice clean distinction in our colors. Nice clean bright colors here, and if you have too much oil and too much paint on your canvas and it's too wet, then they're going to blend together and get muddier and less vibrant and that's not what we want. If you're in doubt, it's best to stop and let it dry and go back the next day. Now, these back areas of the tree is going to have less highlight on them because it's farther away from the light, it's on the shade side of the tree. Be more careful here with your brush strokes and your leaves because this is going to show even more than the ones over on the right side. Okay, now instead of using regular liquid, I've mixed in the liquid impasto, which is an awesome medium. It allows you to paint very thickly. Notice how it's staying on top and not blending as much. It's because it's so thick. It's allowing it to stick nicely. Now I'm not going to go over the entire area, the foliage with this color. This color is actually the cadmium red deep again, only because I mixed it in with the liquid impasto. It's sitting on top and it's not mixing with the back, which makes it look brighter. I'm just going to go over the areas to the right where I think that the light might be catching the leaves. You're going to go over a lot of it with this, almost most of it, but not quite. You want to leave some of the shadow areas in there. We're going to be making two more passes after this. So we have a lot of lightening up to do. But even just this, notice how already it's looking much more, I guess 3D. It's looking more realistic. It's giving us a lot more depth to our painting. The brush stroke is exactly the same. Basically a dabbing, maybe a check mark. A little dash. This layer goes a lot faster because we don't have nearly as much area to cover, and I'm not struggling nearly as much with a blending in with the background. Now if yours is not standing out and sticking like this, that means that you need to stop and let it dry and come back to it. It's absolutely nothing wrong. Part of painting in oil is that it's a slow process. You can take your time. But sometimes you have to wait hours or days. At least a day usually. Sometimes you can get by with doing it in the morning then coming back in the afternoon. But usually 24 hours, and depending on how thick you painted, sometimes more than that before you can come back. I know that can be frustrating. But in reality, it's a big benefit. You'd be amazed at how you set down a painting for a day or a few days and come back to it, how you'll see different things and you'll have a different vision for it. Your end result will be a lot nicer because of that. Often what I'll do is I'll be working on two or three paintings at the same time. That way, I can not get bored or get bogged down in just one of them, and also allows me to spend my time painting more instead of waiting for it to dry. The next color we're going to use is the cadmium red. Straight up cadmium red. We're going to go over that in a similar manner. Only we're not going to go over quite as much as we did before. Okay, this is the cadmium red and I'm just going to start just going on this edge. It's hard to tell in the video. But in real life there is a quite a distinction between these colors. If you use the liquid impasto medium, then you can go right over this and the colors don't mix. It works really well. If you don't have that, then you might need to let it dry between each one of these layers, which that's a long time. But it would definitely be worth it and keeping your color separated. I guess if you really wanted to, you could go with your straight paint and no medium at all. But then it would take, three or four days or longer to dry between layers. When you're doing this, make sure you get all the way to the edge. Especially on this area all the way to the right. Make sure your petal leaves all the way to the edge of your foliage and maybe even some jetting out farther than you have so far. Because that's really where the light is going to hit the most, is the outside edge. This layer goes even faster, and we're using a lot of paint. You can see here I'm putting a very large blobs of paint down. I really like working with thick paint. The texture. It's very pleasing to me. Now at this point, I'm starting to have trouble getting it to stick. It's starting to blend a little bit more than I would like. So we're going to wait and do the last pass after this dries. So I'm going to let it dry after this one. Then we'll put our final highlight in after that. But there's more we can work on while this is drying. Today we can get a lot done. Notice how I'm putting even fewer highlights the farther back I go. Because these areas are going to be more in shadow. Okay. I'm going to stop here and let this dry. But while it's drying, we can work on our elephant. I'm going to show you a neat way to do it. Anybody can do it. You don't really have to be a great artist, or be able to draw well to be able to put the elephant into this painting. So stay tuned for that one. 9. Transferring The Elephant: Now we're going to put the elephant onto our Canvas. You realize that most people right off the bat, especially for beginners, don't have the skills to be able to draw an animal like this on top of their head. You certainly don't have the skills to do it directly onto a Canvas just without any help. You don't have to. Whenever I am putting a character like an elephant or a person or anything really onto Canvas, I start out with a drawing and then I do a transfer from my drawing onto the Canvas. You don't even really have to do a drawing, and I recommend you don't for this first time. You can do a tracing of a photograph or an illustration or something like that. What I recommend you do is to go out and find a picture of an elephant, or even better, pause the screen where you can see mine right now, and take a piece of tracing paper and trace around the outline of it. That will get you the drawing of the elephant. Don't feel like this is cheating or anything like that. This is an established way of learning how to do characters and how to do paintings. Actually a lot of the old masters and professionals today do all of their characters and art in this manner. Don't feel bad about it. This is a trick to the trade, that a lot of people use. Once you have your drawing or tracing or whatever it is established on your tracing paper, you're going to flip it over and take a charcoal pencil and go over the outline of it with charcoal pencil. A lot of times you see people will scrub across the entire drawing. You don't want to do that because that'll put down charcoal on our Canvas which will taint our paint. You want that as little as possible. We're just going to go around the outline of the elephant with the charcoal pencil. You don't have to be super precise, but you don't want to have charcoal in those places that it's not supposed to be. Then I'm going to take a pair of scissors and I'm going to cut this out. You don't have to be precise or anything. You just want to make it so that there is an extra step in the way. I'm going to do this on my wet Canvas. My tree foliage is still wet, but the background is dry. The blue of the grass is dry. I just don't want to touch the wet paint. We use the tracing paper so that we can position it where we want it easily and we can see through the paper. You'll see that in just a second. You place it down. I want my feet to be covered up with some grass. Stick it right there. Then I'll take a pencil. I'm going to carefully go around my outline. This is going to transfer that charcoal that's in the back of the paper onto my Canvas and provide an outline for me to paint over. Be careful here. You do want to be as precise as possible. Here's a little pro tip, try and keep your line on the inside of your drawing. It's easy to make your transfer too fat if you go over top of the line or on the outside section of the line. It really does make a difference. I'm using a sharp mechanical pencil here, but you could use anything that you want. Be careful that you don't press down too hard. You want to have some pressure, but if you press down too hard, you'll get a very dark charcoal line which will be difficult to paint over and will taint your paint. We want it to mix with the paint a little bit. It's going to be an effect we're going to use, but you don't want a lot. It's a medium to light pressure here. It doesn't take much to get it on the Canvas. We'll pull it off and you're going to see. There we go. Because we want to have the reflection, we're going to go through and we're going to charcoal over. This would be the part we just traced on. I'm going to position to see how far down I want the charcoal for the reflection of B. I'm going to go over it again. This is just the top portion. I'm going to flip it over and do the reflection. The reason why we have to do this twice is because it's a mirror image. I'm just going to place it down. Be careful with how you place it to be a reflecting. Remember your reflections do not have to be exactly. It's not going to be. But you do want it to be close. You want people to be able to tell what it is. Tape that down. I'm going to go over it just like I did before with the pencil. Then once we've done this, we're going to be ready to paint our elephant, which is really not that difficult. It is very similar to just coloring in because we already have the outline. But we are going to add some shading. This is not supposed to be the focus of the painting, but it is a sub focus, I guess. I don't know if that's a real word or a real thing. That's how I think of it. Next we're going to actually paint the elephant. Stay tuned for that. 10. Painting The Elephant: Now we're back at the easel and we're going to start painting our elephant. I'm using a small, I think it's a number 1 round brush. I'm using the darkest background yellow paint that we made, the one that we mixed up. It doesn't require much paint. I'd dip in a mater ML of liquid. We want to have a very smooth paint here. We don't want a large build-up like we did with the fluids. This is supposed to sink into the background and looks like it's emerging out of the duster haze or whatever we have gone on back here. I'm going to start out by basically painting the entire elephant one color, this dark color. Then we're going to go back in with the lighter colors and darker colors and do just a very slight amount of shading into it, not much at all. You'll notice when you get to the edges that you're paint is going to mix with the charcoal very slightly. It's going to create some shading of its own by itself. It looks nice as long as you don't have too much. This is one of the nice things about oils in the situation you go really slow. Take your time to go as perfectly as you can. This isn't the focus of our painting, but it does have some of the finest detail. It is one thing that people will notice right away. Be careful as possible. Don't go quite over that. The center outlines of the ear and the eyes try not to go directly over them. You'll go from a little bit, but just a tiny bit, leave that outlines still there. They'll give you a reference point for when we go back and we shade that, we're going to shave that and give a little bit of a shadow behind the ear. Same thing with the eye. Leave a little bit of a dot there, so you know just for a reference point for you to know where supposed to go. Don't go over the task. We're going to paint that in white and just a little bit. I really like this detail work. I think this is a lot of fun. You can see I went right up to the edge. You can still see the outline of the ear. But not much. I'm going to with the lighter shade, this would be the midtone, pretty much straight up Naples Yellow. I'm just blending it down. This is why I love oils, stays wet so you can blend it in. If we were using acrylics that would have dried already. I'm just adding some highlights to places where I think that the sun is going to it. Remember our light source is coming from the right. It's going to hit the rear of the elephant, maybe the edges of its ears, the top of its head. You can continue going a little bit lighter and into the very lightest spots, editing a few more highlights. Now I'm using the darker paint again. That just defined some edges. Elephants aren't totally flat, so the gradient isn't going to be perfect. You want to have some randomize there. I went through and I dipped into a tiny little bit of the Blue and mix it with the yellow to make a slightly darker yellow. I'm using that for the shadow of the eyes and behind the ears. I'm dipping into a little bit more of the blue. I'm giving a blue haze to some of this highlight if you like the lights reflecting off the blue of the grass, or I blue the surroundings that might be off canvas and reflecting back on to the elephant. You certainly don't have to do this. But I think that it adds a lot. I'm going through and doing the reflection. Now you're going to go over the blue of the grass a little bit. But that's okay. No one's really going to notice. With a thin enough code of use enough liquid, then it's going to show through anyway and it's going to be transparent. I'll go in through with an even smaller brush and doing the tail and the trunk. This is one of those fine details that makes a big difference if you do a good job on them. You could also use a liner brush here if you wanted to. Just any fine soft tip brush. Now I'm putting the trunk, not the trunk and putting the Tuscan pure white, just the directly into my pure white. That little bit makes a big difference. Also the little mellow but more dark of the blue. This is a slightly more bluish mixture with the yellow. Working on that shadow. See I've made a huge difference, just that tiny little touch him and would have a mouth there. That pretty much finishes our elephant. We're going to go through now and put the finishing touches on our painting. We're going to finish the highlights of the foliage. Then we're going to add ripples in the water. We're almost done and this is pretty exciting. That's looking really good. 11. Final Touches: It's time to do the finishing touches on our painting. These last little bits make a big difference. It's completely dried, I've let it dry actually a couple of days just to be safe. I'm going through with the cadmium red light and some of the liquid impasto medium, and I am dabbing this on just the very highlighted sections. We're not going to go over very much with this, and I'm putting it on very thick. This is definitely an impasto, technique and it really livens up the painting, it makes a huge difference. I love how it looks when it's done. Just spin on the areas that are catching the light. This goes pretty quickly. You can tell it's already making a big difference. After all, when I'm painting, I get bogged down in the middle and get a little discouraged because I don't like how it looks, but at this point I can see the end. I'm just doing the final little things to make it look awesome, and I love this part of the painting. It's also a very dangerous part of the painting because a one slip-up and you can mess up the whole thing or make you have to have a lot of work to fix it, so be careful. Certainly don't drop your brush on the canvas or something like that. Now this backend of the tree, there's not going to be hardly any of the highlighting because the sun or the light source isn't going to be hitting that much at all. Once we do the leaves, we're going to go down and we're going to create the waterline, that's where the water hits the shore, and to do that, we're going to use the small brush, the small brush that we use to do the elephant's tail and its trunk, and we're going straight into some white with just a touch of yellow in it, just a touch. You don't want pure white, just touch the yellow and just imagine where you want the shoreline to be, and you're not drawing a line across, you putting just dabs in a few places. This is be like ripples hitting the edge of the shore. This is a very small piece of your painting, but it really brings things together and is important. You can mess up here by making the line too thick, putting too much paint down, a big gap down, or by making a straight line across, you want to have a broken line. We're going to enhance this even more by making some ripples in the water using a palette knife. Now, to load your palette knife, first you take your paint and you spread it out thin, and then wipe off your blade, and set it down against your palate flush, and quickly scrape a small section, and it'll build upright on the edge, and that's what we're going to use. You have to load your palette knife a lot, you only get to use it a couple times before it runs out of paint but this gives us a nice straight edge. When I go in, I'm going to start with some white. That white with the little yellow tinge to it. An easy way to mess up here would be to have just too much paint down or to smear it downwards. You move your knife horizontally a little bit, but not vertically. After I put this very light yellow down, I'm going to go back with some blue and add those ripples in, be like dark ripples. Generally, your ripples are going to be spaced closer together at the top, and then as you move down your canvas, they're going to be farther apart from each other. This will give it a sense of depth, perspective. That finishes our painting. Sit back and look at it, make sure there's nothing that might need to be adjusted. But I'm sure it looks awesome and feel pleased with yourself. You worked really hard on that and it looks great. I would love to see your paintings, and I'd love to see them posted so I could see how you did, and how you made them. 12. Cleaning Your Brushes: A lot of people avoid oils because they feel that the cleanup is too difficult. In reality, it's really not that hard. It is a little harder than acrylics, but it's not bad at all. What you need is some mineral spirits and a brush cleaning jar, which basically is a jar that has a metal mesh at the bottom that allows you to scrub the brushes off. I'm going to clean a couple brushes here and then show you how I clean my palette knife, which is super extra easy. First thing you want to do is wipe off as much paint as you can before you even get it dipped into the mineral spirits onto a paper towel and then I dip it into mineral spirits and wipe it some more. I'm keeping as much in the paper towels as possible, that allows your mineral spirit to last as long as possible. Then I scrub my brush against the metal mesh. You want to do that enough to get it clean, but not too much because that does weigh your brush quite a bit. Then you keep on white peanut, until there's absolutely no color left on your brush. Once there's no color left, then your brush is clean. Just leave it out to dry. Really pretty simple. These brushes aren't super dirty, so it's going a lot faster. Sometimes it'll take several minutes to get a brush clean. The smaller the brush that easier it is to clean because obviously there's less paint on. The only thing you can do wrong here is to not get all the paint off your brush because that will ruin your brushes eventually. But unlike acrylic paints, which it'll ruin your brushes pretty much immediately, you have a little bit of leeway. You don't have to clean your brushes right away. You can wait hours to do it if you have to. Now for a palette knife, it's super easy. Just wipe it off and I'll dip it in mineral spirits. Wipe it off again, totally done. You don't want any paint to dry on your palette knife. You want a nice smooth edge there. That's all there is for cleaning brushes. It's really nothing to be worried about, nothing to be scared about. 13. Thank You And About Me: Thank you for watching this lesson on how to paint an elephant tree. I encourage you to paint your own and to post it so I can see it. I would love to see your painting. Also if you have Instagram, you can tag me at #timborkert, and that way I can see your painting and I would love to comment on it and tell you how great you did. If you'd like to learn more about me, my name is Timborket, I have a website, You can also follow me @timborkert on Instagram. There you'll find more about me and see my latest works. I hope to hear from you and see your painting soon. Thank you.