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Easy Watercolor Painting Tutorial | Two Ways to Paint a Watercolor Cardinal!

Intro: Happy World Watercolor Month! In today’s blog post I will show you how to paint a cardinal bird in both traditional watercolors as well as watercolor brush pens! Be sure to let us know what method you prefer in the comments below!


Painting with watercolor is a hobby you can start at any age. In this video, I will show you how to paint a pretty red cardinal bird using the supplies in the Ohuhu Watercolor Paint Set. You can use a regular kitchen plate as a palette and remember, any paint you don’t use can be dried on the plate and used again next time. This attribute of watercolor makes it one of the most waste-free art media out there! You will also need a piece of watercolor paper, water jars, paper towels, and a pencil.

If painting seems too messy but you want a watercolor effect then watercolor markers are for you! I prefer the type with real bristles vs a felt tip watercolor marker when I want painterly effects. Here I will show you how to paint another watercolor cardinal using Ohuhu Upgraded Watercolor Brush Markers Pens Set.

Step 1

Sketch in the bird with a scarlet marker on the watercolor pad included in the marker set. You may wish to do a light pencil sketch first to guide you. If you struggle with drawing you can trace a photo lightly with a pencil or use graphite paper to transfer a photo onto your nice watercolor paper. It is important to use a good quality paper such as the watercolor paper included with the Ohuhu Aqua Natural Brush Markers because regular drawing paper is not designed to handle wet media and can degrade as you build up your colors and blend.

Step 2

Now block in areas of orange, grey, and dark blue as shown in the photo. Don’t worry if it looks a bit messy at this stage. You will be able to blend the colors together and build up color as we proceed with the painting. Feel free to overlap colors. I like to blend out my darker colors with lighter markers. This will not harm the Aqua Natural brush because it has brush bristles instead of felt tip. Experiment with blending and transitioning colors so you can get the most from your markers!

Step 3

Use the water brush included in the marker set to blend the colors together and give it a painterly look. If you find any of the colors look weak you can go ahead and add color right on the wet bird. Because these markers have a real brush tip and not a felt tip this will not harm the markers or the paper. It’s another reason I love these pens!

Step 4

Add detail with black. If you want soft edges, such as where the black feathers meet the red feathers, then add the black while the paper is still damp. If you want sharp details like the eye or the outer feathers around the beak, allow the paper to dry fully before adding the black details. Remember, wet paper will give you soft edges and dry paper will give you sharp edges.

Step 5

I decided to add a fence for my bird to perch on. Alternatively, you could have him on a branch or a bird feeder. The choice is yours. I think he would be pretty on a holly branch as well, that would make a beautiful holiday card too! The sky’s the limit when you create with your Ohuhu Aqua Natural Brush Markers!

Bonus Tips

1. Make a swatch! Paints and markers can look different once applied to paper so make a swatch of each product and then make a gradient by diluting it in water so you can see the variety of tones you can get from each color. Keep this swatch with your supplies so you can refer to it every time you paint.

2. Try blending dark to light. This goes against some conventional wisdom but when using the Natural Brush Markers you can apply your darkest shade and use lighter markers to blend it toward the highlight very easily! I also find that it is easier to establish values when you get your darker tones done from the start. If you are worried about dark ink staining your markers simply wipe it on a paper towel when you are done or scribble off any leftover ink on a scrap of paper.

3. Work wet to dry. Putting in backgrounds and painting large areas is much easier if the paper is wet because the paint can flow and fill the area much quicker. Also, you get a softer and more subtle effect that is pleasing to look at and will let your focal point stand out. Sharp details should always be done on dry paper.

4. Tape down your paper. If you like to use a lot of water your paper might warp while you are working. Taping the paper to board all the way around will keep it flat and as a bonus when you remove the tape you will have a pretty white frame! If your tape wants to rip your paper, simply warm the tape with a hairdryer before removing to loosen the adhesive.

5. Practice often and have fun! The more you work at it the better you will get.

What method do you like better? Watercolor is one of my favorite mediums and I am so glad there it comes in a form to suit anyone’s preference. I hope you give this a try today!

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