September 6, 2019 0

How to paint a realistic tree frog in watercolor with Anna Mason

Hi it’s Anna Mason, and in this watercolour
tip video I wanted to show you how I went about painting ALL the different colours to
this vibrant tree frog. I worked from a photo which is vital when the subject
is as small and jumpy as this and began with a contour drawing where I marked in the main
areas of contrast between colours, so that it was as clear as possible where the main boundaries
were. Then the crucial first stage for a painting with SO many colours like this, was to paint
a really pale version of each colour in place first. I paint each colour in turn, letting
it dry before applying the next so they don’t bleed into one another and muddy. In this
frog, I broadly worked from the lightest through to the darkest colours.
So I started with the grey-green highlights, found mostly around the brighter highlights which
I left without any paint on them at all. I kept my mix really pale and watery – knowing I
could always darken up with an additional layer later. With that dry, I went on to paint
the yellow-greens and vibrant blue-greens of the frog’s skin, again keeping really
watery with my paint so as to try to match to the palest version of that colour that I could
see in the photo. Now I’m not going to break down each of the mixes I used here because
there are LOTS of them. They’re of course detailed in the 2 hour long video class of this frog
in my online School, but the key thing is that I make good use of the relatively extensive
number of paints in my palette. I begin with the colour closest to the one I want to mix
and then I add to it usually only one or two other colours to get it spot on. For more
info about the process, check out other videos I’ve made about colour mixing.
With the lighter greens dry, I paint the darker greens. All of these areas will need to be
darkened with a layer later, but painting a paler version of these now means it’s
easier to correct a mistake – by lifting paint off with damp kitchen roll, or simply by layering
up around them. Next it was the oranges – there were more
yellow and more red-brown versions…followed by the light turqioise blues….
Then the darker blues – which I applied with a tiny brush so that I could get them in exactly
the right place, leaving circular gaps wherever lighter spots were present in the skin. Then
it was the purples, which I applied with a stippling brush technique to achieve the sorts
of markings I could see in the leg. Finally I also painted in the black areas
with a very watery version of the black mix – again just to get the colours mapped out
and to make sense of the drawing without committing to a super dark mix straight away.
I added a touch of a brown into the bamboo and ALL the colours were mapped out. From
here it was a case of working within each colour area in turn, working through the darkest
tones, then midtones, then making tonal adjustments with further layers. Always following the
golden rule of letting each layer dry in between. I’d usually start with the very darkest
tones in the painting – the blacks in this case, but I worked with the oranges next so
as to minimise the risk of any bleeding happening in the eye area. I started with the darkest
tones in the oranges, using thicker mixes, then watered them down and adjusted the colours to work on the
midtones. Because we perceive tone as relative to the tones around it, I could now see that
a few other areas needed darkening so I worked on them next, adjusting the amount of water
in my mix to match how dark I needed to take an area.
With the oranges dry, I painted in the blacks to make judging how dark to take the rest
of the colours easier, before going through exactly the same 3 part process with the dark
blues…the purples…the lighter blues…the greens in the skin, using the tip of my brush
to create the texture. The Yellows in the skin…the darker greens
in the bamboo and the lighter greens in the bamboo. Once all the colour areas had been
worked on tonally, I stepped back to review the painting as a whole and compared colour
area to colour area – always checking against my photo to see if it looked right. I took
some areas darker with extra layers and I added details at this stage such as a line
along the mouth and around the eye. This is a lengthy but really enjoyable stage
which makes all the difference to the painting’s realism and completes the piece.
A full video class of this painting is available now in my online School. If you’ve enjoyed
this video, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and I’d love it if you’d share
it with your friends. If you’ve yet to take one of my tried and
tested full length video classes FOR FREE, make sure you visit where
you’ll find even more resources to help you pick up your brush and paint the way you’ve
always wanted to. Remember, you won’t improve your painting
unless you MAKE the time to paint. So be sure to schedule in some me-time this week and
paint something that YOU love. And if you need help with that, my website also has plenty
of tips to help you make painting a priority. Thanks so much for watching and I’ll see
you soon with another tip for creating watercolours with “wow”.

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