06 Dec 2019Mont Marte

Create a parrot in acrylic paint

Grab your acrylics and paint a parrot! Follow along as we take you through the main steps, from drawing your parrot to bringing it to life with a range of bright colours. Download the lesson PDF below for more tips and tricks.

Step 1. Drawing up the parrot.

Refer to the image on page 6 and draw it onto the canvas with a pencil. Use the following steps: 1) Draw in the profile of the parrot. 2) Draw in the beak and eye. 3) Draw in the wings and feet. 4) Draw in any areas where shadow will lie.

Step 2. Painting in the negative space and shadow areas.

Squeeze some Lamp Black onto the palette. Use an abstract expression brush and paint the negative area around the parrot. Next, use a large filbert brush to dry brush any areas of shadow. We will be painting over all this shadow but because the acrylic paint is slightly translucent you will see the darker tone beneath the coat. Keep the light source in mind when you do this. Let this coat dry.

Step 3. Under-painting.

Now we can start the under-painting. Squeeze out the following colours onto an easy clean palette: Cadmium Yellow, Scarlet, Titanium White, Yellow Orange, Phthalo Blue and Yellow Pink. Add Titanium White to Yellow Pink and paint in the cheek area. Paint the top of the head in Yellow Orange and work down the parrot adding Scarlet as you go. Leave the area of the wings that will be Yellow and Blue free of red. Use a clean brush and paint the sides of the wings in with Cadmium Yellow. Paint Cobalt Blue into the appropriate part of the wings. Blend the blue into the yellow so there is a slight green transition created between the two colours. Do this on the other wing also. Mix a touch of Titanium White with Lamp Black and paint in the bottom part of the beak, add a little more white and blend it into the top portion of the bottom part of the beak. Next paint in the top part of the beak but add a touch of Yellow Pink into the mix. Paint Lamp Black into the bottom side of the perch our parrot is sitting on. Apply some Burnt Umber next to this block of Lamp Black and roughly blend the 2 colours together. Blend in some Titanium White into the topside of the perch to lighten the Burnt Umber. Create a light grey from Titanium White with a touch of Lamp Black and paint it over the parrots feet. Keep walking back to view your work from a distance to see how the colours are working together.

Step 4. Top coating.

In this step we have to build up the colour over the top of the previous layer, over the feather plumage and add any detailing over the feet and the eye area. Create a dark red tone from Scarlet, Raw Umber and a touch of Lamp Black and paint it over the shadow areas. Lay Scarlet into the dark red tone so that it transitions to the under-painting. Add this colour to any areas that need some shadow, like areas on the forehead and under the beak. Take the light source into account when you do this regarding where the shadows fall. Lay Phthalo Blue in lines down the wings to depict the primary flight feathers. The final stage is to use a rigger brush to lay small patterns over the feet, use Lamp Black for this. Add more Black in around the beak and eye also. Add White into the top of the head and onto any feather areas that are in highlight. Darken some Yellow Pink with a touch of Raw Umber and add the wrinkles around the eye.

This project is painted in one sitting and most of the footage is in the accompanying video. It is a good idea to watch it a few times to familiarize yourself with the order of how the paint is applied.

Material List

  • Abstract Expression Brush Premium 50mm
  • Double Thick Canvas Premium 50.8 x 60.9cm (20 x 24in)
  • Gallery Series Brush Set Oils 5pce

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