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Jason Morgan - How to Oil Paint Animals

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How to Paint Animals
“Learn EXACTLY How I Paint Animals”
Incredibly detailed step by steps
Fantastic Techniques – from Novice to Advanced
130 + pages! Over 135 High Res Full Colour Photos, Zoom right in!
Painting Eyes
Glazing
Copyright Jason Morgan 2013
Fur / Skin
And More!
How to Paint Animals
Foreword
I was surprised to discover that it is over 10 years since I released my first wildlife painting
ebook “Painting Wildlife in Oils”. No wonder so many people were emailing me asking
when a new edition would be released. So I guess this one is well overdue.
The techniques I covered in “Painting Wildlife in Oils” still work, but 10 years of additional
painting will obviously refine anyone’s techniques and I have found that I can now paint
with just as much realism but with a lot fewer brushstrokes. Thankfully ha…
The 1st ebook was aimed at the beginner/Novice and covered things such as buying paints
etc but if you are a COMPLETE beginner then I would advise you to purchase my eBook
that was released last year entitled “Oil Painting Made Easy”. It covers absolutely
everything the beginner would need to know from which type and colours of paints to use
(there is even a shopping list to take to the art store!) to brushes and onwards to using
your computer to find difficult to match colours.
This eBook is aimed more for the Novice / Advanced artist looking to demystify painting
animals as a primary subject.
Many people struggle to paint Animals in a realistic manner, I hope this eBook, helps to
simplify the painting process for you 
Jason
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Page 1
How to Paint Animals
Equipment
Lots of people email me asking exactly what materials I use for my paintings, so below I will list briefly my
standard materials – there is nothing magical or even expensive about them, just simple, standard supplies
Some sections of the next couple of pages have some info from my ebook “Oil Painting Made Easy” it was
pointless me rewording already good information  If you want LOTS of details based on being a complete
painting beginner with everything I use, including a shopping list and much more, I would recommend
buying “Oil painting made easy” it will save a you lot of time and money / frustration.
Canvas
I personally use a fine to medium grade canvas. I tape it to a rigid board such as MDF using masking tape.
The reasons are simple – It is much safer to send unstretched paintings through the post office when they
can be rolled in to a postal tube and it is also far less expensive.
Many of my paintings are quite large and shipping them already stretched would be near impossible. But
you can paint on stretched canvas; canvas boards etc yourself if you would rather.
Paints
Alkyd Oil Paints
The paint I use is made by Winsor and Newton (you can buy it in any good art store or easily online) it’s
called an Alkyd paint, basically it’s standard oil paint with an additive already in it that speeds up the drying
of the paint, it means that I can finish a painting session and by the next morning, the paint is dry! It’s the
best of both worlds, slow enough drying that I can work on a painting for hours, but it also dries quickly
enough for me to continue the next day if I want to, this can drastically reduce the time it takes me to
complete a painting. The next two photos show my standard colours.
As mentioned It’s made by W&N and is called – Griffin Alkyd (you can buy other makes of Alkyd oils
though) – there are lots of colours in the range and they are almost the same price as student grade oils –
personally it’s what I now use all of the time. You can use regular Oil paint though, all you will find is that
regular oils dry much slower, probably 3 times slower, other than that they are identical to Alkyds.
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Page 2
How to Paint Animals
Thinners
I use an odourless thinner. There are lots of types available from art shops and
once again it’s worth trying a couple out for yourself, because some really are not
odourless at all even though it says so on the tin / bottle – but if you want to use
what I use then get some “Bob Ross” odourless thinners – I just find it’s the least
smelly, in fact there really isn’t much smell to it at all. It comes in a fairly large
plastic jack and lasts for absolute ages.
Now just because it doesn’t smell, doesn’t mean it’s as safe as water – as with all
solvents, you should have a well ventilated area – but the way I paint (and I’ll
show you later) uses VERY little thinners, in fact I bet the Bob Ross jack lasts me
2 years or more! But just be cautious.
Oil Painting Mediums
Walnut Alkyd Medium (alkyd painting medium – I don’t use any other mediums)
This painting medium is my personal favourite. The Walnut oil portion of the medium gives the paint just
enough slip to make it flow nicely and the Alkyd portion means my paint mostly dries by the next morning.
And if I want my paint even thinner I just add a little odourless thinner to my paint/ walnut
medium mix.
Acrylic Paints (Blocking in and Tonal Under Paintings)
I use acrylics just to block in the basic dark areas of the underpainting or to create a simple
tonal underpainting. It dries real fast– which is exactly what I want at that stage.
I use only two colours – Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber 99% of the time.
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Page 3
How to Paint Animals
Brushes I use a very limited number of brushes, generally hog type brushes for the blocking in stage and
also for larger oil areas, then synthetic type brushes for more detailed work. For the fur texture, I will
generally start with short flats, either synthetic or bristle, usually numbers 0, 1 and 2, then for more detail
areas I use synthetic rounds and riggers from no 6 down to 1.
Disposable palette
I have found disposable palettes suit my needs best,
you can get them from most, if not all art stores –
basically it is paper with a non-stick surface on one
side, there’s also a neat hole to poke your thumb
through! When the paint mixing area on the paper
gets well used and dirty, say after 2-3 paintings
sessions, I just rip off the dirty sheet and start again
on a clean one.
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Page 4
How to Paint Animals
My Painting Process
Painting wildlife can seem like a very complicated thing to do, perhaps even more so than painting
landscapes or still life’s. After all even a house cat might literally have millions of hairs, so how do we go
about painting all of those? And their eyes can have so many different colours, and that glassy look too – all
very complicated.
But after so many years painting these magnificent creatures I have now simplified the whole process
drastically, whilst still maintaining a very high level of realism in my paintings. I now know that you don’t
have to paint every hair to make it look like you did (fortunately) and that with just a few simple techniques
painting eyes can become probably the easiest part of the whole painting. So let’s take a look at the way I
attack most of my paintings these days.
Before we Start – A Word about Acrylics
Over the years MANY people have asked me if my techniques work equally as well with Acrylic paints as
they do with Alkyd oils and my answer is this - Although I very rarely paint with Acrylics myself (other
than to underpaint) when I do, I use exactly the same technique as I do with alkyd oils. I might need to apply
another layer or two at the detail stage as I don’t find Acrylics have the same covering ability as oils. So
why do I rather Alkyds? Well for a start they are much cheaper than professional grade Acrylics and more
importantly the oils dry slower, giving me more time to blend and complete sections. That said there are
mediums easily available for Acrylics that slow the drying process a lot, so if you want to paint using the
same techniques as I use but with acrylics then you might want to try out some slow drying mediums. Other
than that I see no reason at all why you can’t paint using Acrylics if you so wish.
The Basics of my Whole Process
I tackle almost all of my paintings in a very similar way.
Stage 1 – The Pencil Drawing
There is really nothing special about this stage,
I use a standard graphite pencil (usually a 2H)
and draw either straight on to the canvas or
more often than not, I draw on to some
standard paper, so that all my mistakes and
corrections are on there instead of the canvas,
then I transfer the drawing to the canvas using
graphite transfer paper. If the subject is
complicated with lots of spots or stripes, or in
the case of elephants, lots of wrinkles, which
follow the form of the animal, then I will make
the drawing quite detailed so I have less to be
concerned about when I paint.
Now the only problem with drawing on the canvas with graphite pencils / transfer paper or charcoal pencils
is that as soon as you start to paint with oils or even an acrylic under painting (if you brush firmly), the
pencil will quite easily wash away. Now this is not an issue at all if I am painting a simple subject as I would
only have put a few basic marks on the canvas just acting as a reference, but for a complicated drawing /
painting then I want my pencil marks to stay exactly where they are, at least for the time being.
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Page 5
How to Paint Animals
That is easily accomplished by spraying over the pencil drawing with Winsor and Newton (permanent)
fixative. It doesn’t make the drawing completely impervious to being rubbed away but it is easily good
enough. After I spray the drawing I generally leave it to fully dry for an hour or more.
Stage 2 - Tonal underpainting
This stage further simplifies the whole
painting process by giving me a tonal map to
follow when I begin oil painting later on.
I use just 1 tube of Burnt Sienna acrylic paint
(99% of the time) and only ever take this
stage further for VERY complicated subjects.
I brush on a watery mix of Burnt Sienna,
sometimes scrubbing with the brush to get
the paint to really adhere to the canvas.
Then whilst this acrylic layer is still wet I use
a normal piece of kitchen tissue, folded or
twisted to form a point, then dab it on the
canvas to remove the wet paint from the
areas that will be my lightest areas in the finished painting, then as the acrylic is drying I dab out other light
areas, basically creating a very easy tonal underpainting usually in less than 5 minutes.
Stage 3 Tonal – for Complex Subjects
Now as I mentioned
the stage above is
where I normally stop
as far as an
underpainting goes,
but the elephant
painting shown here is
very complicated with
so many wrinkles and
creases which are
essential to get right to
maintain the form of
the elephant, so I
decided to add some
more acrylic paint
layers, using Burnt
Umber, Ultramarine
Blue, and just a little
Titanium White. Still
keeping everything
very basic, and really
just darkening the
darks and lightening
the lights. This gives me an even easier map to follow when I start the real painting with oils. The acrylic
underpainting also means that I will need far fewer oil layers to get the very same effect.
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Page 6
How to Paint Animals
How I Paint Animals
Focusing in on Painting Eyes
Stage 1 (above)
Lots of artists get concerned when it is time to paint the eyes, but when you understand a few simple things
then they can really be the easiest part of the whole painting process. Remember most animals’ eyes can be
thought of as glass sphere almost like a clear marble, with a flat coloured disc (Iris) a little deeper inside, the
dark opening is the pupil.
Here (above) the light colour of the whole eye is just toned canvas.
Stage 2 Blocking in the main Iris Colour
I almost always begin to paint the eyes by blocking in the main Iris colour; in this case the colour was
Winsor Yellow. I used a small flat bristle brush no 2 to apply the paint.
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Page 7
How to Paint Animals
Stage 3 Blocking in the Shadow
Above the Yellow area was a shadow area. It had some hints of both Blue and also Green, So I used mixes
of Winsor Yellow / Ultra Blue and also some Burnt Sienna, blocking in the colours quite loosely once again
with the small flat brush.
Stage 4 - Adding the Pupils
Positioning the Pupils is always critical. Even being slightly off can make your subject appear cross eyed. So
If you can’t see your drawing marks and you’re not confident of the pupils’ placement, and then let the
previous layer dry overnight then use your transfer paper to re-draw the pupils in. Here I have used just
Black to paint in the pupil and also the dark areas around the eyes. I then softened the eyes with some very
light strokes with a small soft synthetic flat brush.
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How to Paint Animals
Stage 5 - Adding the Highlights
The eyes only ever come alive when the highlights are painted in. In most eyes the light is coming from a
light source above the animal. It then creates a shadow directly under the top eyelid and hits the eye
structure, going in to our imaginary glass sphere and lighting up the bottom part of the coloured disc (iris).
This is why most eyes have a lighter coloured iris at the bottom of the eye.
The highlight in this painting was a mix of Titanium White, with a tiny touch of Ultra (Ultramarine) Blue.
Remember on most occasions not only is the light source reflected in the eye but also the sky (blue) itself
can also be reflected in it.
Here I have blocked in a suggestion of the fur surrounding the eyes using mixes of Burnt Sienna / Burnt
Umber and Lamp Black, so you can see the full effect of the eyes in the Black Leopards face.
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Page 9
How to Paint Animals
How To Paint Detailed Fur
Let’s look at a very detailed step by step to really see all the techniques used in painting fur
Pencil Drawing
I have transferred the pencil drawing to my canvas using a standard graphite pencil. As for all of the demos
that follow, the drawing has been sealed to the canvas using Winsor & Newton Pastel and pencil permanent
fixative. It was then allowed to dry fully before continuing; over 1 hour drying should be enough in a warm
room. As the fixative smells a lot I usually spray outdoors.
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How to Paint Animals
Toning the Canvas / Tonal Underpainting
Here I am toning the canvas with Burnt Sienna Acrylic paint which has been thinned to a watery mix with
just standard tap water. The secret to getting a nice even coverage is to just paint it on quite quickly, starting
from the top of the canvas, working my way down to the bottom with slightly overlapping strokes. Then I
stop brushing. The paint will automatically find its own level, creating a fairly even coverage. But don’t be
too concerned how this looks, very little, if any will be visible in the finished painting.
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Page 11
How to Paint Animals
Lifting out
This lifting out stage MUST be carried out whilst the above stage is still very wet, so there is only about 5
minutes or so to complete it before the acrylic paint dries. I lift out the highlights and light areas of the
painting with a standard piece of Kitchen tissue, just dabbing here and there, folding the tissue to get a clean
piece, then dabbing some more, repeating the process if the wet paint refills the areas wiped out. I continue
this technique over the whole canvas before the paint fully dries. I then leave the paint to dry before going
on to the next stage. To speed drying a hair drier can be used.
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Page 12
How to Paint Animals
Dried Tonal underpainting
Here you can see just how much lighter acrylic paint dries, so don’t be afraid to apply quite a dark acrylic
mix during this tonal stage. This really is a very fast way to create a great tonal underpainting.
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Page 13
How to Paint Animals
Starting of the Blocking in Stage – Alkyd Oil Paints
When you are using very opaque colours such as the ones I will be using to paint this little snow leopard, the
pencil markings can easily be lost under just the very 1st layer of paint. So with that in mind I am blocking in
the dark markings with Lamp Black and a flat bristle brush first. Nothing too detailed, just suggestions as to
where the darks areas are. If I need to thin the paint a little to make it easier to apply I use a little thinner.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in
To continue the blocking in stage I have added some Titanium White, a little Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine
Blue to the lamp Black used in the previous stage to make a grey. More Burnt Sienna if I want a warm grey,
more Ultra Marine Blue if I want a cooler / bluer grey. This layer needs to be dark enough so that the lighter
layers will show up when painted on top in later stages. Some people ask me how I know how dark and
what colour to paint during this blocking in stage – Well, I imagine that I am looking down to the under fur
of the Leopard, the fur seen between the highlighted top hairs – that is the colour / tone I am trying to paint
here, but don’t be too critical, the only layer that really counts as far as colour accuracy is the final 1-2
layers. These under layers are just the framework; they create a solid base to build upper layers on top of and
it is always better to paint this layer too dark than too light.
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Page 15
How to Paint Animals
Initial Blocking in Complete
Once I had applied the fur colour to the whole of the canvas I then softened it using a large Bristle Flat brush
– no 8, gently brushing IN THE FUR DIRECTION to blend to a softer appearance (see photo above)
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Page 16
How to Paint Animals
Painting the eye
The eye in this demo is very simple and I followed the procedure outlined in detail in the previous eye
demo. Here I have blocked in the basic iris colour using Ultra Marine Blue, White and a touch of Black.
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Page 17
How to Paint Animals
The top section of the eye is in shadow so I have added more Ultra Blue and Black to the mix above and a
tiny touch of Winsor Yellow. I have also re-established some of the dark markings with a mix of Black and
Ultra-Blue, just to keep them visible.
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Page 18
How to Paint Animals
Adding Under Fur Texture
The whole of this demo is being completed in one sitting (Alla Prima), other than the glaze which comes in
the very last stage, so as you can see I am building up layers over already wet paint. If you find that your
new layers are not sticking on top of the under layer then add a little thinners to the paint mix.
Here I have started to add the very 1st layer of texture to the fur so I am using a lighter mix of the fur from
the 1st step (just adding some white). I am using a small flat bristle brush no 2 and painting ALWAYS in the
direction of fur growth. Starting with the areas that are further back in the painting and making my way
forwards. I will be honest with you, the painting doesn’t look great at this stage, but you know what, it’s not
supposed too. If the painting is looking nice and bright and vibrant then I have gone to light too soon and the
detail and texture layers will not show up in the next stage.
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Page 19
How to Paint Animals
Re-establishing the Markings
As I continue to add more of the grey fur then it is inevitable that some of the dark markings will start to get
painted over again, so as I progress I also re-paint in the dark markings
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How to Paint Animals
Softening
Here I have softened the painting once again to give a much more subtle texture, under fur is usually much
softer than the outer layers, so to add depth to my painting that is how I paint it. I have also added a little dot
of black for the cat’s pupil. Notice how it is not a perfect circle.
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How to Paint Animals
Refining the details
As each layer gets completed, I refine the next layer even more, and also start to apply finer fur texture. Here
I am using a round brush no 6 loaded to a chiselled edge just like a large Rigger, to add some thinner fur
strokes, the pain at this stage has to be thinned quite a lot with thinners to get it to flow easily over the
underpainting, you can also add medium if you wish, it’s really a case of trying it to see what works best at
the time.
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Page 22
How to Paint Animals
Here I have continued to add fur texture using the exact technique showed above. Just working my way
forwards in the painting.
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How to Paint Animals
Brush Loading - Loading a Rigger for Finer Hair detail
When I am at the stage where I want to paint very fine hairs then I use a brush called a Rigger, it was used in
years past to paint the rigging on ship paintings, hence its name. It is also ideal to paint long hairs like
whiskers and fine fur as well. I find that if I load the brush with a chiselled edge the paint applies much more
easily than if I just dip the brush in the paint. To load a chiselled edge I thin the paint down with a little
thinner, and then pull one side of the brush through the paint, I then flip the brush over and pull the other
side through the paint. Here you can see the paint applied to both sides and how sharp the tip of the bristles
are.
Having the brush loaded in this fashion helps to support the sharp edge maintaining its shape and preventing
it from splaying out with each stroke. This allows me to paint many more fur strokes before I have to reload
the brush again, saving me a LOT of time 
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How to Paint Animals
Brush Loading - Loading a Rigger for Finer Hair detail
When I turn the brush through 90 degrees you can see how flat that side is. To paint the fine details I apply
the paint using the chiselled tip. I can paint a very fine line with this chiselled edge using nothing smaller
than a Rigger size 4, but getting the equivalent fineness of a size 0. But the size 4 holds MUCH more paint
so I can paint many more marks before the paint runs out.
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How to Paint Animals
Building more Layers
Here I am applying yet another layer of fur, the darker areas generally are not has sharp and distinctive as
highlighted white fur, so I am using a large round brush instead. Remember this is all wet paint, nothing has
been allowed to dry at this stage at all.
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How to Paint Animals
1st Stage complete
The painting is now allowed to dry and as I am using Alkyd Oil Paints the painting will be dry overnight.
If I was using standard Oil paints then it could well take 3 or 4 days to fully dry before I can apply glazes
over the top without it moving the underlayer. Acrylic paint dries very fast, so if I had been using them then
I could begin applying glazes in a matter of minutes, but acrylics don’t have the covering capacity of oils so
it might have taken 2-3 more layers to get the same look.
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Page 27
How to Paint Animals
Glazing
Lots of artists get very confused regarding glazing, but if you follow a few steps it is really simple. Basically
a glaze is just paint with medium added to it to make it see through. Now with oil paints we use mediums. I
have already mentioned that I use a Walnut Alkyd medium. You could also use Liquin medium as I used to
myself for years.
Acrylic artists use either a glazing medium or water. And water-colourists of course use water.
The Snow Leopard needed to have a warmer appearance to some areas of the fur so here I am mixing up a
warm glaze using Burnt Sienna, a tiny touch of Cadmium Orange and a Little Burnt Umber to dull it down a
bit. To that mix I have added some Alkyd Painting Medium. All I did was dip the top half of the bristles in
to the medium and them mixed it in to the paint, not a great deal is needed at all.
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How to Paint Animals
Applying the Glazes
Here I am applying the glaze I mixed in the above step to the areas that required warming up. Notice that the
previous fur texture can be very clearly seen though the glazes. You should never add white or any other
very opaque paints to your glaze as it will turn the glaze opaque and you will then not be able to see the
texture through the glaze.
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How to Paint Animals
Applying a New Glaze
Some areas also needed to be darkened so I have made a mix of Lamp Black, Ultra Blue, Alizarin Crimson
and a touch of Burnt Umber to make another glaze, once again using the Alkyd Painting Medium.
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How to Paint Animals
Applying the 2nd Glaze
This glaze was applied around the eyes, the nose area etc and as you can see it really gives the whole face a
three dimensional look. If you want to build layers in a painting then it is essential to let the 1st layers dry as
eventually the glaze medium will begin to go tacky and painted on new layers will become impossible. 1
layer was enough for this painting though.
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How to Paint Animals
Final Details – Finished Painting
Here I am applying just a few final bright highlights to finish off the whole painting using my chiselled edge
Rigger again and pure titanium White.
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How to Paint Animals
Snow Leopard Cub Demo
Drawing Stage
The initial process in all my paintings is getting a detailed drawing on to the canvas. Now you can do that
in many ways, from tracing, to freehand drawing to drawing up a grid and drawing from that. Personally I
like to draw on paper so that all my mistakes are done on that, then when I am completely happy with the
drawing I place a piece of graphite transfer paper, transfer side down on my canvas, put my drawing on
top and then go over my drawing with firm pressure using a coloured ballpoint pen. I use a pen so that it is
much easier to see where I have already done. To prevent the drawing from smudging when I start
painting I seal it with a fine spray of Winsor & Newton permanent pencil / pastel fixative.
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Page 33
How to Paint Animals
Tonal Underpainting – Acrylic Paint
As I mentioned previously a tonal underpainting is a great map to have before the oil painting stage. Here
I have used just Burnt Sienna Acrylic Paint, thinned with water and scrubbed it in to the painting surface
with a large 1 to 2 inch bristle brush. Remember Acrylics dry much lighter than they look wet.
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How to Paint Animals
Tonal underpainting Stage 2
When the acrylic paint is still completely wet I dab off the areas that will be light or white in my finished
painting with a rolled up piece of kitchen tissue. I usually have to dab areas a few times as the wet paint
seeps back in on the edges. Remember this is just a basic underpainting, there is no need for things to be
perfect at this stage, or even look very good at all, none of this will be seen in the finished painting at all.
The photo above shows the Acrylic underpainting fully dry.
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Page 35
How to Paint Animals
Blocking In – Alkyd Oils
I almost always start by blocking in the background, this has the advantage of allowing me to overlap the fur
on the outer edge over the background, but it is not essential, Lots of artists, including myself, sometimes
put the background in at later stages. Here I have blocked the simple background in with Ultra Marine Blue /
Cerulean Blue and White. The distant grass is just Ultra Blue, Winsor Yellow and Burnt Umber to dull it.
The fur is made up of mixes of White, Black, Ultra Blue and a little Burnt Sienna. Always painting my
brush strokes in the fur direction. I will cover this stage much more in other demonstrations.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking In – Alkyd Oils
Here the blocking in stage has been completed and the rock has been painted with the same colours as the
Snow Leopard to give a feel of colour harmony to the painting. I have not troubled myself with details at all
yet and only used a few brushes to complete the whole painting thus far. My main brushes for the cat was
long bristle flats size no 4 and 2, no round or riggers etc have been used at all yet. I am just building the
underlayer to give me something to paint the details on top of later. This stage then dried overnight.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking In Glaze – Alkyd Oils
If the underpainting is not dark enough then the details will not show up at all when they are painted on top.
This is the main mistake I see beginner and novice artists make. There must be a large enough difference
between the two layers and in my own painting here I found that when I applied a few test strokes of detail
they barely showed up at all. So I needed to darken the underpainting. This is simple to achieve with a glaze.
I used Burnt Umber and a little Ultra Blue and thinned it down with alkyd painting medium to make sure it
was quite transparent. Then I scrubbed it in the areas that needed to be darkened
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How to Paint Animals
Fur Texture – Alkyd Oils
With the glaze layer above still wet I used a quite thick mix of Titanium White and a little Burnt Umber /
Ultra Marine Blue, thinned slightly with a little odourless thinner and loaded up a no 4 bristle Rigger to a
chiselled edge. I started to paint the fur texture starting with the areas furthest away from me, ie the areas
near the outer edge and then overlapped the fur strokes making my way forwards. The nearest parts, i.e. the
nose, muzzle area was painted last. I didn’t wash any brushes during this whole stage; I had a rigger for the
light areas and a short flat no 1 and a Rigger for the dark areas. I continued over the whole leopard in exactly
the same fashion. Then let the layer dry overnight.
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How to Paint Animals
Fur Texture layer 2 – Alkyd Oils
As the cat looked quite blue and the fur gave a cold appearance in the previous stage, I glazed over almost
all of the fur with a Burnt Sienna, Ultra Blue Mix to warm it up a little. Above I am adding a second layer of
fine details using the Rigger. To create a rock like texture it is essential to be quite rough and free with the
brush strokes. I use a lot of different strokes, dabbing, stabbing, scrubbing etc also I find using thicker paint
gives a much more solid/ realistic texture. Start with the darker areas and gradually add lighter and lighter
areas on top.
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How to Paint Animals
The Finished Painting
The fur is brought to this level of completion with another layer of details added where required and a glaze
over some other areas. I decided not to put much texture in the rock as I didn’t want it to compete too much
with the texture of the fur, the Snow Leopard Cub Is supposed to be the start of the painting after all.
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How to Paint Animals
Final details Whiskers
Some artists really struggle to paint whiskers over a dry canvas and I have found the best way is to use a
Rigger brush, no 2 or 4 is usually small enough. Thin the paint to a consistency that allows you to load the
brush to a chisel edge, even though a rigger is pointy I draw the brush through the paint 1 st one side then the
opposite side to make the edge chiselled (as shown previously). If your paint is too thin it will not hold its
shape. If it is too thick it will not flow off the brush.
So there is a level of trial and error in the technique. I then start the stroke for whiskers where they grow
from the muzzle, then using a slow deliberate stroke I brush outwards releasing the pressure as I finish the
stroke to make the edge taper. You might find it easier to turn your canvas to find the easiest painting angle
for you.
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How to Paint Animals
Bear Demo
Drawing Stage
This is a very small painting, and one that’s success depends on the lighting effect and not really the fur
details. So my drawing is also very simple, basically just an outline of the major elements position. The
drawing was then spray sealed.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in Stage – Alkyd Oils
I decided to just jump in and start with the oils for this painting as it was so small and also because the
subject would require me using just opaque paints, so the white canvas would be covered very quickly. Here
I have used just Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber and Ultra Blue with a little White to lighten areas, for the fur
and face.
The grass is Winsor Yellow, Ultra Blue and White/ Naples Yellow. I am resting my brush hand on a mahl
stick (homemade years ago) for those that are wondering what it is. It just steadies your hand.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in Stage – Alkyd Oils
After just 2 hours painting the majority of the bear has been blocked in and I have put the grasses in around
him so that I can create a soft edge by blending the two together with light strokes using a soft flat synthetic
brush.
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How to Paint Animals
Detail Stage – Alkyd Oils – Final Painting
This painting really came together very quickly, all I did from the previous stage was to go over some of the
areas of the bear that were not quite completely covered with paint (using the same colours) and then I
added a lot of white to the same mix to create the mix for the fur highlights. The water was simply suggested
using Winsor Yellow, ultra Blue Burnt Umber and White and was completed all in one session.
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How to Paint Animals
Jaguar Cub
Blocking in Stage – Alkyd Oils
As you are now familiar with my drawing and tonal underpainting stages I don’t see the point in going over
the same thing with each painting. So above you can see I have already blocked in the cub with Alkyd oils,
very loosely, using my trusty flat bristle brushes. The colour mixes for the fur was – Burnt Sienna, Naples
Yellow Cad Yellow Deep and Cad Orange. Naples Yellow is very opaque so it allowed me to paint this
whole stage in 1 session. For the Very dark areas I used Lamp Black and Burnt Umber. For the Dark Spots I
used Burnt Umber and Ultra Blue. The bluish chest area was Ultra Blue, Burnt Umber and a little Titanium
White. This blocking in took about 3 hours to complete.
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How to Paint Animals
1st Layer of details – Alkyd Oils
To build my details on top of the layer above I used exactly the same colour mixes but added a good
quantity of Naples yellow for the head fur. And switched to a no 4 Rigger to paint more defined fur texture.
The chest fur was lightened with the same mix in the step above but this time lightened a little with white. In
some areas where I wanted the fur to be softer I lightly brushed over the area with a soft synthetic flat brush,
always brushing in the direction of fur growth. This layer then dried over night.
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How to Paint Animals
2nd Layer of details – Alkyd Oils
There are many layers to a cat’s fur and to paint it realistically I find 2-3 layers + are almost always
required. Here I have added even more white to my mixes to make a very light and opaque paint. The face /
head areas have been painted extensively with a large rigger brush and the chest area, which has a thicker fur
appearance, was painted with a no 2 short flat brush. I have deliberately gone much lighter on all areas than I
want the final fur to be as I will apply glazes in the next stage. This stage was again allowed to dry fully
overnight.
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How to Paint Animals
Final Painting Glazes
It can seem like you are a million miles away from finishing the painting, then 1 layer of glaze later you look
at it and it is finished. All I have done here to complete the cub is to glaze some Raw Sienna / Burnt Sienna
mixes over some areas, mainly the face and head, and last of all I put in some whiskers which added to the
depth of the whole painting.
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How to Paint Animals
Snow Leopard
Initial Blocking in – Alkyd Oils
The photo above was taken immediately after I finished the initial blocking in of the under fur and shows
very clearly just how dark these initial layers need to be so that the detail fur which gets layered on top in
succeeding layers will show up. As I have mentioned before, not going dark enough is by far the most
common mistake I see and it is something I occasionally fall prey to myself. It is worth skipping forwards a
few pages to see the finished painting just to see how light I will go in the end.
To assess how dark I need to go I look at my reference photo and try to see the dark areas BETWEEN the
highlighted fur texture – the colour in the fur deep down. That is what I am aiming to paint during this layer,
NOT the highlighted fur which lies on top. The colours used for this layer, mixes of – White, Ultra Blue,
Burnt Sienna and Umber for the fur. Winsor Yellow added to the mix for the eyes and a little Winsor Red on
the nose and I then brushed over the whole cat with a soft synthetic flat brush to soften the fur texture. This
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How to Paint Animals
layer then dried overnight.
1st Detail Layer – Alkyd Oils
Here I am using various mixes of White, Lamp Black, Burnt Sienna, Ultra Blue – which as you have
probably noticed are my standard go to colours, to begin the 1st layer of fur details / texture. This Snow
Leopard Cub has quite detailed fur, rather than the soft fluffy fur usually seen in younger cubs, so I am using
both a flat no 1 and also a no 4 rigger to paint the fur details. As usual I am starting with the fur furthest
away and making my way forwards, overlapping strokes as I go.
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How to Paint Animals
1st Detail layer – completed
The fur on the body has a warmer appearance so I have added a little more Burnt Sienna to the standard mix.
And as the fur strokes need to be thicker / larger I switch to a no 4 flat brush. Softening the whole area with
a soft brush to finish this stage off. I carried on finishing the whole painting after this stage without letting it
dry. This gave a less crisp look to the finished fur – exactly what I was after.
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How to Paint Animals
Finishing the details layer 1
This photo gives a good idea of scale as I am painting in some of the black markings with a rigger, just
pulling out a few stray hairs here and there to add even more realism. My whole painting process is a
constant adjustment of previous layers, you could almost say that I am refining and eliminating the mistakes
I see after I finish each layer. So it is important not to get discouraged when the early layers don’t look that
good, they are not meant to be yet.
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How to Paint Animals
Final Details - Final Painting Glazes
This is the finished painting and I actually added the final details when the layer before was still wet, as
mentioned previously. You will find that as the layers get closer to completion you can work in to wet paint
without it getting too muddy as the layer underneath will now be quite close in both tone and colour to the
final one being painted on top. When all the details was painted, except for the whiskers I allowed the
painting to dry fully (overnight) and then painted on a few subtle glazes of Raw Sienna / Burnt Umber /
Ultra Blue (to dull them down) over the desired areas warming up the face especially. I then allowed it to
dry one last time before applying thinned down white paint to the whiskers.
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How to Paint Animals
Final details close up
This image is much larger than the painting was in real life, but it does give you an idea of how I layered on
the final details.
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How to Paint Animals
Elephant Family
Initial Blocking in
I love painting elephants because they are almost always painted using very opaque colours, like Lamp
Black, White, Burnt Umber etc so the paints cover a white canvas really well and therefore only a few layers
are required – I guess I am a lazy painter ha… Here I have brushed in a simple background suggestion of
Cerulean Blue + White for the sky, then the distant bush was Winsor Red, Ultra Blue + White for the
shadow colours and Winsor Yellow and Ultra Blue / White for the greenery. I then started to paint the light
coloured grasses with mainly Naples Yellow and a little Windsor Yellow / Ultra Blue to tinge it slightly
green. As you can see my brush strokes were up and down for the grass, which is the direction of growth
again, just like I paint fur.
I then started on the elephant. There is a VERY good reason why I started on the tusk area and that is
because I was fascinated by it, the texture of the tusk, the shadow etc and that was a good enough reason for
me  sometimes it is good to paint an exciting area like this or the eyes of a big cat for instance, quite early
in the painting as it can inspire you to keep going at the later stages.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in
Here I have just carried on with the blocking in stage and it is all just 1 layer of paint, so this stage probably
only took about 3 hours to complete. Main mixes were the mud colours ie Burnt Sienna, Umber, Ultra Blue
to darken them, White to lighten the mixes a little and some Lamp Black for real dark darks. Here I am
using one of my no 4 flat bristle brushes and I used them for 100% of the painting to this stage, including the
eyes, I just turned it to its side to create smaller marks. To save washing brushes out all the time I used 3
brushes on the elephant’s one for the lights, one for the midtones and one for the darks. It saves a lot of
painting doing it this way too.
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How to Paint Animals
Adding Some Details – Wrinkles – Alkyd Oils
Here I am using a Rigger brush with a dark mix of thin pain to paint in the recesses of the creases on the
large older elephant. It is essential to follow the contours correctly to give the areas the correct shape and
form. Remember the trunk is basically a cylinder shape so the creases go around. You can also see quite
clearly in this photo how I have suggested the dark creases in the same elephant’s foreleg too. It looks very
unconvincing at this stage though as I still have mid tones and highlights to paint to give the areas depth.
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How to Paint Animals
More Details, Midtone and Highlights
Here is a close up of the elephant showing those same wrinkles now I have added some midtones and
highlights near the dark recesses. In oil painting I almost always go from painting dark to midtone, to light. I
am using the same colours, but just adding more white to create the highlights.
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How to Paint Animals
More Details, Midtone and Highlights
Notice how much more realistic the foreleg on the rear elephant looks now I have added just a few simple
midtones around those dark creases. The shadow areas on the elephants also show some detail, but to make
them look more realistic I have not included as much detail as seen in the sunlit areas. There is just a
suggestion of detail and highlight / bounced light in the shadows. Notice also just how blue those shadows
really are. I underestimated the amount of blue in this area quite a few times, so I then used a computer
technique I show in depth in my ebook “Oil painting made easy” to isolate the colour and point me in the
right direction. You can do similar by punching a hole in a piece of white card, but I find the computer
easier.
Also noticed how I have used thick paint, applied with a large flat bristle brush, to suggest texture in the
foreground grasses. This gives the painting a much more three dimensional appearance.
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How to Paint Animals
The Finished Paining
Just a few more details and tiny hairs were all that was required to finish off the painting.
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How to Paint Animals
Adult Leopard – Basic Tonal Underpainting – Acrylics.
This really is a very basic tonal underpainting, completed purely in acrylics. I used Lamp Black, for the
markings and Burnt Sienna / Burnt Umber just to give a little shape and form to what will be the darker
areas of the cats’ fur. Unusually for me I used a little yellow and blue acrylic paint just to suggest the eye
colour. No particular reason for this at all, I just fancied trying it in acrylics – All will be painted over in oils
in the next stages.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in – Alkyd Oils and Blending
Here I have blocked in the Leopard with Alkyd Oils, the fur mixes were Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Burnt
Umber, and Lightened with Naples Yellow and thinned with a little odourless thinners and a touch of alkyd
painting medium to help the paint flow a little easier on the canvas. The Leopard has quite a soft appearance
to the fur so I knew right away that I wanted to blend this layer. I used a large flat bristle brush – no 10 to
soften the fur, always brushing in the furs growth direction. I then used a little Cadmium Red and Burnt
Sienna for the nose area. If you are using Acrylic paint then you will either need to add a slowing / retarding
medium to your mixes or just blend small areas of the fur at a time, as acrylic will most likely dry too fast to
be able to blend fully after painting the whole cat.
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How to Paint Animals
Adding the details – alkyd oils
It’s very difficult to paint details on a Leopards fur the colour you want them in the final painting as
generally the Leopard will be a kind of Raw Sienna colour, which is a very transparent colour / paint. The
way I get around this is to not concern myself with the final colour at this detail stage but rather use a very
light opaque paint (Naples Yellow / White) and concentrate on just the fur texture. I will then glaze the
colours on top when it is dry. I used a combination of a small flay bristle brush and a large Rigger to paint
the details. I have also re-established the dark markings too. I have also added a single layer of oil paint to
the eyes.
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How to Paint Animals
Adding more Details
Fur the larger / softer fur areas I am using the flat bristle brush. Generally going from the fur furthest away
and then overlapping strokes as I paint nearest areas as per normal. This stage then dried fully overnight.
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How to Paint Animals
Glazing
The difference between this stage and the one previously looks dramatic, but it took no more than 1 hour to
accomplish. All I did was mixed up some alkyd medium with mixes of Raw Sienna, Cad Yellow Deep for
the lighter areas and added Burnt Umber to the mix for the darker areas and brushed over with a large bristle
brush.
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How to Paint Animals
Final details
There was no need to let the previous layer dry before beginning to add some of the final highlights and
details (above).
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How to Paint Animals
Final details – close up
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How to Paint Animals
The Finished Painting
I didn’t want to muddy my pure white whiskers by painting them over wet areas so I allowed the above
stage to dry overnight again. Then I mixed Titanium white with a little odourless thinner to create a mix thin
enough to flow from the brush as I painted the whiskers.
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How to Paint Animals
Adult Tiger Demo
Initial Drawing
Here my drawing has been transferred to the canvas with graphite transfer paper and sealed with a thin spray
coat of pencil fixative (permanent) as per my usual technique.
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How to Paint Animals
Burnt Sienna Tonal Painting
I wanted to show you in a little more detail exactly how I complete a tonal underpainting with just 1 acrylic
colour and a piece of kitchen tissue – so here goes.
This photo clearly shows my large tub of Burnt Sienna acrylic paint and also the fairly large bristle brush. I
have just applied the thinned down (water) acrylic wash and it is still completely wet. The canvas is also flat
to prevent the wash from flowing down the canvas.
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How to Paint Animals
Burnt Sienna Tonal Painting – Wiping out
Then with the acrylic wash still completely wet I use a standard kitchen towel (tissue) to blot / dab out the
areas that will be light / white in the finished painting. As the wash is so wet I find that I usually have to
keep dabbing some areas a few times as the wet wash seeps back in to the dabbed out areas as it dries. The
acrylic wash dries much lighter.
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How to Paint Animals
Details
I wanted to show you this photo, not to show you yet another image of me adding details but instead to show
you how I have my painting almost completely vertical as I paint. I find this especially important when
drawing as it keeps the angles correct, But I also find it very useful as I paint as it decreases a lot of glare
and is also more comfortable when I am painting for long hours barely moving my position, which of course
is not ideal. It is important to try to move about and get up from the chair every 30 minutes or so to prevent
back pain and other issues, I should remind myself of this fact more often 
To support my painting I use a draftsman drawing board which allows me to paint at any angle and also
changes height very easily too. A large studio easel is also perfectly suited and is what I used for many years
before I got the draftsman style table / board.
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How to Paint Animals
Building layers of detail
To create depth to fur it pays to study the reference photo looking for different textures. Not all layers of an
animal’s fur are the same and it is quite common for deeper areas to be soft whilst the outer layers are
coarser.
Here the Tiger had a soft under coat with very distinctive individual hairs and little clumps of hairs on top,
all adding to the appearance of depth. The under fur I painted using my trusty small flat bristles, then the
individual hairs were painted with Rigger brushes.
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How to Paint Animals
The Final Painting
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How to Paint Animals
Jaguar Adult – Oil on Canvas
Graphite drawing on canvas sealed with permanent pastel / pencil fixative and allowed to dry before
continuing.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in
Here I have already done a very simple tonal underpainting exactly as per the detailed description in the
Tiger demo above. Once that was dry I began to block in a basic background, using just Winsor Yellow and
Ultra Marine blue. I then blended the background with a large bristle flat brush. I didn’t want to begin to
paint the Jaguar’s fur until the background was dry as the dark green would contaminate the colours, so as I
had plenty of time I began to lay in the eyes. Starting with the black surrounding areas, (lamp Black) Then
putting in the eye colour with Winsor yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep / Naples yellow and Ultra marine blue
mixes. I then let the whole canvas dry over night before progressing.
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How to Paint Animals
Continuation of Blocking In
I wanted this blocking in stage to be nice and dark so I choose Burnt Sienna, Cad Orange Deep and Lamp
Black as my main colours. I used lamp black to paint in the dark markings as I went along so they were not
lost completely.
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How to Paint Animals
Adding the beginnings of Detail and Texture
Here I have gone over the whole of the Jaguars face using the exact same technique I have shown in the
other demos, once again concentrating on the texture and following the fur growth rather than the accuracy
of the colours – a glaze will come in future layers to rectify that.
The nose was painted in using Winsor Red, Cad Orange and white. With a little Burnt Umber to dull areas
down.
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How to Paint Animals
Details
I have now covered the whole of the Jaguar in details / texture and also blended some areas of fur to soften
them with a large bristle flat brush. Here I am darkening the spots once again with almost pure black as
softening / blending etc often muddies the dark areas. I then allowed this to dry over night before continuing
to add some glazes.
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How to Paint Animals
Glazing
What a difference a glaze or two can make. You can add as many layers of detail and glazes as you want,
there is no set limit and usually adding more than 1 gives a feeling of more depth to the fur. I find glazes
especially useful, if not essential when painting cats that have a yellow (transparent) bias to their
colouration, ie Tigers, Jaguars, Leopard and Lions, which pretty much covers all the big cats!
Here the only difference to the Jaguars left and right sides of its face is a very simple glaze, nothing more. I
used a very thinned down (alkyd medium) Cad Yellow Deep as the main colour.
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How to Paint Animals
Final Painting
When the above glaze was completed the fur looked just too pristine, almost as if the cat had just come out
of the grooming parlour, so I applied further glazes on top of the previously dry one (above), to dull down
areas. I used mixes of Burnt Umber / Sienna / Ultra Blue (thinned with alkyd medium as usual) and then
some pure white for the very bright highlights. Finally finishing off with the whiskers and ear details.
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How to Paint Animals
Snow Leopard Adult
This painting is very different from the Jaguar above in that it is almost monochromatic and uses very
opaque paints rather like an Elephant painting. And for that reason I have jumped straight in and not even
bothered with a tonal underpainting. Although I could have done one if I had wanted too. The colours used
were Lamp Black, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and White. All brushed in with a large flat bristle brush.
The eyes in this painting are the real centre of interest being just about the only area that will have much
colour. The outer edge of the eyes is Cad Orange, Cad Yell and a little Burnt Sienna right on the outer edge.
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How to Paint Animals
Background – blocking in
As you know I generally put the background in early in a painting, but this time I wanted to make sure the
background was dark enough but not too dark, so I waited until I had already blocked in the Snow Leopard
itself. Lamp Black and Ultra Blue with a tiny bit of white is all I used. The dark background really makes
the cat pop forwards even at this early stage.
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How to Paint Animals
Adding Texture / Details
I wanted this demo to concentrate more on showing how I create fur texture and as it uses more opaque paint
it is easier to see. Here the underpainting is completely dry. I have mixed a light colour out of Titanium
white with a touch of lamp black, thinned with a little odourless thinner so the paint flows easily from the
brush. As I recommend in most of my other demos I have started with the areas furthest back on the
Leopards head then I overlap the brush strokes as I paint the fur that is close to us (the viewer). As I come
across an area of dark markings I am painting that in at the same time, and then overlapping it with lighter
fur as I come forwards past it.
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How to Paint Animals
Fur Details
Here the whole top section of the Snow Leopards face has been detailed exactly as above. It is quite a slow
process, especially as you begin painting wildlife for the first few times, but as you become more and more
familiar with the technique then it is surprising how quickly an area can be covered. Also although I have
painted many fur marks here I am far from painting every hair. I guess this whole section took me 1 hour to
paint. Many pencil artists would take tens of hours or more to do similar. Most of this section has been
painted with a large rigger – no 4, loaded to a chiselled edge.
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How to Paint Animals
Details
Here the lower section has also been completed, this time using a flat bristle brush no 2 as the hairs are
softer and clumped in groups rather than being more individual in appearance. Once the chest area was
detailed I then softened the area by brushing it in the fur direction with a soft flat brush.
This stage was then dried overnight.
Tip - If you find it difficult for the brush strokes to flow on the canvas then brush a LITTLE bit of alkyd
painting medium directly onto the canvas, then wipe off the excess with a kitchen towel. This will help the
paint to flow smoothly on top.
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How to Paint Animals
Details
Here I have re-darkened some of the Leopards dark fur markings and also applied a glaze here and there just
to colour areas slightly. Using Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber to warm areas, and Lamp Black and Ultra
Marine Blue to cool or darken areas, both mixes thinned to a glaze with Alkyd Painting medium.
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How to Paint Animals
Final Painting
I took this photo under slightly different lighting so the colours look quite a bit more vibrant. But to bring
the painting to this level of completion I have added even more glazes then in to the still wet glazes I have
increased the highlights using opaque paints with plenty of Titanium White and Naples Yellow added to the
mixes and also darkened the spots using Burnt Umber, Ultra Marine Blue and Lamp Black, bringing out the
occasional single fine hair with my Rigger.
As per usual I then let the painting dry overnight before I painted in the whiskers with a thin mix (thinned
with odourless thinners) of Titanium White for the light hairs and Lamp Black for the dark hairs. Painting
these over a dry underpainting give you the option of wiping out a whisker with a tissue or rag if a mistake
happens 
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How to Paint Animals
Elephant Family
Blocking in
I love painting elephants, they are just so different from all other animals on our planet, and they are known
for their maternal feelings and behaviours and that is what attracted me to painting this scene for sure.
I didn’t bother with an underpainting but I did tone the whole canvas with a quick wash of Burnt Sienna,
Acrylic paint just to get rid of the stark whiteness.
The background was cerulean blue + white for the sky, the green tree was Cad Yellow / Ultra Blue and the
shadow areas was a purple mixed from Winsor Red / Ultra Blue / white, subdued with Burnt Umber where
needed.
The blocking in of the elephants was very simple, just my standard muddy elephant colours. Various
combinations of Lamp Black, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Ultra Blue and Titanium White. Thinned with a
little odourless thinner to help the paint flow and apply to the canvas more easily.
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How to Paint Animals
I wanted to include this photo to show you just how easily the opaque paints cover the canvas and also how
a little shadow can really push another area back in your painting. When blocking in your initial colours do
not concern yourself with details at all. Concentrate just on creating a nice solid structure. The details will
then be much easier to apply and also look more realistic later.
A mistake a see many novices make is that they do not use variety in their brush strokes. For instance a
novice might pain the ear using brushstrokes all pointing in exactly the same direction. Remember we are
not painting a wall but an animal so always have variety in your brush strokes even if the difference in angle
is sometimes only very slight.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in Completed
Here I have blocked in all three elephants as per the step above.
Here you can see quite clearly how I attach the canvas to a rigid MDF board using masking tape. It’s just
much easier to send a large rolled canvas in a secure postal tube than sending an already stretched one flat
packed. It’s much safer and cheaper too 
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How to Paint Animals
Adding some details
Elephants are all about wrinkles and creases, but I try not to get drawn in to trying to paint every single one.
By being too detailed and a slave to the reference photo not only will you start losing your way amongst the
wrinkles but the final effect will look very laboured and unrealistic. I try to give an impression of the details
instead.
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How to Paint Animals
Details
Here you can see how I have just suggested recesses and also highlights to give an impression of details.
The viewer’s eye will do the rest.
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How to Paint Animals
Detail View
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Final Painting
The foreground is just suggested, with a few twigs and grasses, they are really just there to ground the
elephants which are of course the centre of interest. The grasses were painted with mixes of Naples Yellow,
Burnt Sienna, and Burnt Umber. The greener areas were Naples Yellow plus Winsor Yellow, Ultra Blue,
Burnt Umber.
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How to Paint Animals
African Lion Kill Scene
This painting is not going to be to everyone’s taste for sure, but I wanted to paint it as not all paintings are
pretty portraits and this one shows REAL Africa at its most primal. The Cape Buffalos horn is positioned to
bring the viewer’s gaze back in to the painting, and back to the centre of interest, the Lions face.
Then the viewer looks at the carcass before hopefully being brought back in the painting by the Lions tail,
which almost mirrors the shape of the buffalo’s horn.
The tonal underpainting shows that there will be quite a bit of contrast in the finished painting, which is
almost always a good thing. Paintings that are one primary tone are frequently very boring for the viewer to
peruse. If a painting works well at the tonal underpainting stage then it will almost surely make for a great
painting.
Here I have completed my standard tonal underpainting using just Burnt Sienna Acrylic Paint.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in
I loved the challenge of painting the Buffalo carcass and it was something I had never attempted before. So I
jumped straight in, so to speak and started with that  The colours used were Ultra Blue / Lamp Black, for
the dark buffalo fur.
Alizarin Crimson and Winsor Red / Black for the meaty ribs and Lamp Black, Ultra Blue / White for the
darks between the ribs. The lions face is Naples Yellow / Burnt Sienna/ Burnt Umber / Raw Sienna and
white.
I blocked in a little of the grass so I had a wet area next to the lions face so I could blend them together to
create a soft edge.
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How to Paint Animals
Continuation of the blocking in stage
The grasses were blocked in with almost vertical strokes using Winsor Yellow / Naples Yellow / Ultra Blue/
Raw Sienna.
I continued to block in the Lion using the colours listed above and a large flat bristle brush. Cad Yellow and
Orange were added to the mixes to add punch and vibrancy to the magnificent mane.
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How to Paint Animals
Final Details
I loved painting the socket joint of the Buffalo, which I guess makes me a little strange ha.. But it was a real
challenge. Also the addition of a few flies added more realism to the painting, and were quite easy to paint
with just a few flicks of the brush.
The grasses were added with quite thick paint and layered over the carcass to give more layers and depth to
the painting.
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How to Paint Animals
The final painting (above)
“The Prize”
Painting a Tiger in Moonlight
Initial drawing has been transferred to the canvas and sealed with permanent fixative, then allowed to dry.
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How to Paint Animals
Tonal Underpainting – Acrylic paint
I didn’t need a complicated underpainting for this one so I just removed the whiteness of the canvas with a
flat acrylic wash of Burnt Sienna. This stage was then dried – you can dry with a hair drier to speed up the
drying.
Blocking in
The reference photo showed the tiger crossing a 4x4 dust trail but I had visions of the Tiger mysteriously
walking past in backlit with moonlight. Doing that is easier said than done as moonlight affects colours in
some very strange ways. Moonlight dulls all colours, but it is interesting to note that Red turns almost black
in moonlight. The only real way to see what would happen to the Tiger’s colours in moonlight is to take a
photo of a Tiger out in moonlight, or even better observe one in real life if possible. You can’t really
photograph it as the photograph alters the colours again, so observation and memory is really the key.
The main colours used for the blocking in were – Cerulean Blue / Ultra Blue, Lamp Black and white
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in
Here I have continued the blocking in stage adding some dark foreground areas (same sky mix but more
Blue / Black) and also some suggestions of highlight (sky mix plus more white).
Tiger – Blocking in
As mentioned, trying to convert a Tiger lit by daylight to one in moonlight is no easy task, so I used
Photoshop to try out my ideas, subduing the colours to match the effect I observed when I took some photos
of sunlit Tigers out in moonlight.
Here I decided to forget about the stripes and instead concentrate on the shape form and colour of the Tiger.
The edge lighting on the front of the Tiger was critical to the feeling of it being backlit by a bright moon.
This stage then dried overnight.
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How to Paint Animals
Tiger Refinement
To get the stripe positions back on the Tiger I placed my drawing over the painted Tiger and then used white
transfer paper instead of my standard black (which would not show up easily).
I then repainted the stripes with lamp black and added some more dark grasses and the suggestions of stones
etc.
I also painted in the suggestion of foreground foliage Pointing in the direction the Tiger is walking to add to
the feeling of movement. When the above stage was dry I dampened a little tissue with a small amount of
odourless thinners and VERY gently wiped away the white transfer paper markings, before continuing with
the stage below.
The finished painting
I darkened the whole Tiger with a dark glaze (lamp black / Ultra Blue) and added highlights to the foliage
tips that were being lit by the moon with Ultra Blue and White to finish the effect.
Hope you think I manage to pull off the moonlit effect I was after.
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How to Paint Animals
Wolf
Background
I guess we always think of wolves living in a hostile environment and for this painting I wanted to give the
impression of a quite stormy, cold background, and then offset it with the warmth of the Wolfs sunlit fur. No
tonal underpainting was needed as the wolf would be painted with quite opaque paint. As you get better at
painting wildlife you might find that you don’t paint tonal under paintings at all, but they are in my opinion
almost essential for the beginner / novice artist. And as you have seen I generally paint them myself even
after many years painting.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in
The fur texture of the Wolf was very thick, but also very disorganized so I tried to simulate that with my
brush strokes. Painting in an almost random fashion with an old flat bristle brush, using mainly Burnt Sienna
and Burnt Umber with some Ultra Blue added to the mix to darken it.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in
I continued with the above blocking in still using random strokes and a large old brush, then I added some
more white to the mixes to make an opaque light brown colour, scrubbing the colours in quite roughly, but
still generally following the fur growth direction.
This is what I call the ugly stage of a painting and many beginners would give up here and start over again. I
too felt this way when I first started painting but experience now tells me to stick with it. Things will look a
lot better after the next few layers – hopefully 
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in Finished
Here is the final blocking in stage and you can see around the right hand side of the painting some white
pencil marks. These were done using white transfer paper again to re-establish the fur boundaries, BEFORE
I began the blocking in of the face in this stage, so I wasn’t placing my paper over wet paint.
The eyes were suggested with a little Cad Yellow and also Cad Orange and the lighter side of the face was
blocked in using an opaque mix of Titanium White, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, Ultra Blue and a touch of
Black. The nose was just pure Lamp Black lightened with White for the highlight area.
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How to Paint Animals
Darkening glaze
I needed the under fur to be much darker than it was in the previous stage if the lighter texture marks were to
show up when I painted them over the dry blocking in stage, so I painted a darker tone made with Ultra
Blue, Burnt Sienna / Burnt umber mixes and quite a dry brush (not much medium) to add even more texture.
Here I am re-establishing some of the lighter areas again.
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How to Paint Animals
Details
The Wolf’s fur texture was quite distinctive and sharp so I mixed an opaque colour out of Naples Yellow
and some of the browns to tone it down a bit. Here I am using my large no 4 Rigger, loaded with plenty of
paint to a chiselled edge. I know the fur is way too light at this stage but I will be glazing it later so it colour
is really irrelevant right now.
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How to Paint Animals
More details
I have added even more details over the whole wolf, using a larger brush as shown in the photo to create
thicker clumps of fur. Tip – keep your old worn out brushes (I have many) sometimes you want to paint a
raggedy edge and raggedy old brushes do that just fine 
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How to Paint Animals
Starting to glaze
I have started to apply some glazes to bring the Wolf’s coat to life in the photo above – Burnt Sienna, Raw
Sienna, Burnt Umber are the main colours for the darker areas. Here I am painting a few larger / softer areas
around the edge.
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How to Paint Animals
Finished Painting
To bring the Wolf to completion I have added even more glazes to warm the fur colours up, mainly Raw
Sienna and Burnt Sienna for the warm sunlit areas, and also some Burnt Sienna / Ultra Blue mixes for the
darker areas. Glazes don’t always have to be done in one sitting remember.
If you want to build up your glazes slowly and even glaze one colour over the top of another to get a certain
effect then that is fine. Just remember that the painting medium (alkyd) will start to become tacky quite soon
after it is applied and further brushing will start to remove it. So let each glaze dry over night before
applying a new one.
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How to Paint Animals
Mountain lion / Puma
The tonal underpainting really comes in to its own here as the colour matches the Puma colour quite closely,
so it acts not just as a tonal, but also as an underpainting too. As usual I have used just Burnt Sienna Acrylic
paint, blotting out the highlight areas when still completely wet. This layer was then dried with a hair drier
to speed up the drying process before I continued.
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How to Paint Animals
Blocking in – Under painting
I love to paint misty / blurry backgrounds when I am painting animal portraits as it really makes the subject
pop forwards. Here the background was painted first, with just a few simple colours – Ultra Blue, Winsor
Yellow, Naples Yellow and Lamp Black to subdue. The Puma fur was Burnt Sienna, Naples Yellow, Ultra
Blue and Burnt Umber, with Lamp Black added for the very dark areas. I used large brushes, (flat bristles no
6 -10) for the large fur areas to keep a fresh look and feel.
The area under the chin was the same mix lightened a lot with Titanium white and a little Winsor red added
to give a slight purple tone. The Light areas on the face were white, Ultra Blue and just a tiny bit of Winsor
Red.
By ensuring that my brushstrokes were constantly following the fur growth direction I automatically got the
impression of individual hairs from the brush marks. This layer was dried over night.
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How to Paint Animals
Darkening Glaze
Now if I was doing just a painting study all in one sitting (Alla prima), then I could have stopped at the stage
before the one pictured above, but I wanted to add a lot more detail so I have once again needed to darken
the underpainting with a glaze. See how easy it is to go too light in the blocking in stage?
I mixed up a dark glaze colour by mixing Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber and Ultra Blue thinned with alkyd
medium. This layer was then dried overnight.
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How to Paint Animals
Adding Details – Texture – 1st Layer
Here I have applied much lighter tones using my usual large Rigger and also the flat bristle brushes, and
then to further lighten it I did a second detail layer before the 1st was dry building a deeper texture to the fur.
Then I allowed the painting to dry overnight before doing the final glazes below.
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How to Paint Animals
Final Glazes – Finished Painting
The final glazes were mainly Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna and a little Cad Orange, all thinned with Alkyd
medium so the paint was quite transparent. For the darker areas I added some Burnt Umber and Ultra Blue.
I Then let the painting dry over night before adding the whiskers as I didn’t want the pure white
contaminated with wet glazes as I painted them.
All that was then left to do was to add my signature.
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Zebra Reflections
This is a complicated subject so I have spent quite a bit of time getting the drawing as good as possible and
also shading in the dark stripes so that I don’t get lost as I paint them, I certainly don’t want this drawing
washing off as I paint so I have sprayed it with my usual fixative and let it dry before continuing..
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How to Paint Animals
Under painting
I haven’t used a tonal underpainting in this one as I wanted the zebra to really reflect the white. The
background just gives the impression of a sloping bank using Burnt Sienna lightened a lot with Naples
Yellow and White. The grasses are very vibrant and painted with Winsor Yellow and ultra Blue.
Painting the zebra
I always paint Zebra as if they are white horses then I add the black stripes later AFTER the white has dried
overnight. I find them MUCH easier to paint this way rather than painting individual stripes one at a time.
The white of the Zebra is really anything but white and you will need to study your reference closely to
estimate the colours needed. Here I have used mixes of Titanium White with touches of Ultra Blue and
Winsor Red. Then when dry I began to block in the stripes.
The reflections were painted in after I painted the Zebra and to get the soft effect I brushed the blocked in
wet reflection first vertically down to blur it then horizontally to blur it even more. Remember also that in
reflections the lights will appear darker and the darks slightly lighter.
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How to Paint Animals
Adding more details
What really makes this little painting work is the burnt sienna coloured areas on the back of the zebra and it
really gives the effect of very bright warm African sunlight.
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How to Paint Animals
Finishing the painting
Here I have done a few more subtle glazes over the dry canvas and also added some texture to the body and
manes, with my trusty Rigger Brush no 4 loaded to its chiselled edge  A few horizontal strokes on the
water gives the feeling of movement, and also pushes the reflection down.
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How to Paint Animals
This detail shows that the baby Zebra actually has some nice long hair on the back which gives some added
interest to the painting and the nose area shows some bounced light coming off the reflected water surface.
It’s these small details and elements that can transform a good novice painting in to a great professional
looking painting.
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How to Paint Animals
The Finished Painting
To bring the painting to completion I added a few more subtle glazes and re-established some of the darker
tones just to give the painting a little more impact.
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How to Paint Animals
A Few Finishing Notes
As I bring this eBook to a close I would like to cover just a few final observations Painting is meant to be enjoyable, but it is all too easy to get so bogged down with technicalities that it can
really take the fun away before you even start, for instance, I used to be so concerned about the tiny bits of
dust I could see on the surface of my painting and the marks my brush was leaving in the paint surface! Now
I don’t worry about either at all, neither can be seen when you are 12 inches or more from the painting
anyway!
People worry about the fat over lean principle, where you should always paint a fat (more oily) paint over a
lean (less oily) one. Personally I have painted for many years and NEVER had a painting show even the
tiniest hair line crack to the surface. By using Alkyd oils I think a lot of this problem is just eliminated. Also
I think the issue would be more likely to happen if you apply very thick paint, with a palette knife for
instance and then a very thin paint thinned with thinners over the top.
Varnishing is another topic which has MANY discussions on various art forums going on for years, never
coming to a universally agreed upon conclusion! Personally I varnish my paintings about 1 week after they
are dry (remember I use alkyd oils which dry much faster than standard oils). The varnish I use is a spray
varnish by Winsor and Newton, called Artists Satin Varnish (removable). Just 1 light spray is all I apply and
it helps to lift any dark areas that might have dried a little less vibrant. The varnish dries quickly. I don’t
know of any artists that are selling paintings, leaving them to dry for the 6 months + which always seems to
be the recommendation period before varnishing.
So basically what I am saying is enjoy painting, when the feeling grabs you pick up your brushes, squirt out
some paint and get on with it. You might very well really surprise yourself with a beautiful painting, one
you never thought you could accomplish at this stage of your art career 
But if you don’t pick up those brushes and get some paint on the canvas you will never know.
At the end of the day it is only paint and canvas, nothing magical, the magic comes from practice 
Jason
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How to Paint Animals
Resources
Complete Beginner / Novice Book
If you are a complete beginner and struggling to make a
start, then my book “Oil Painting Made Easy” is a great
resource covering everything from, which paints and
brushes to buy, making your first marks on canvas, to
more advanced topics like glazing and using your
computer to help to see colours. It even has a shopping
list you can take to your art store! If you’re a beginner
this eBook will save you a lot of money and frustration.
Available on my site www.jasonmorgan.co.uk
On my Easel Books
Have you always wanted to just take a sneaky peek over
a professional artists shoulder as he paints?
Well over the years I have photographed the stages of
almost all the paintings I have ever completed, the “On
My Easel” ebooks show these stages.
Available on my site www.jasonmorgan.co.uk
Royalty Free Reference Photos
If you struggle to get good reference photos yourself,
which are copyright free (remember most photos on the
net are copyright protected – so you cannot legally paint
from them and sell your paintings) then I have the
answer for you. My reference photo cd’s have 100’s of
photos taken from my own personal stock, you can paint
from them and sell your paintings.
Available on my site www.jasonmorgan.co.uk
My Online Gallery
I have a large selection of both limited and open edition
prints. Printed on museum quality canvas and fine art
paper.
Printed by an award winning print house.
Available on my site www.onlineartdemos.co.uk
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How to Paint Animals
Are you thinking of commissioning an original painting?
Email me [email protected] to have a very
informal chat 
My Wildlife Art Blog
http://wildlifeart.wordpress.com/
You can also follow me on Facebook, for my latest
paintings, prints, tutorials and much more
https://www.facebook.com/jason.morgan.9231
Join my FREE newsletter, where I will keep you up to
date on my latest demos, ebooks, paintings etc
Available on my site www.onlineartdemos.co.uk
Painting Brushes
I have used the following company for many,
many years. The brushes are not only great value
but excellent quality
http://www.rosemaryandco.com/
Art Supplies UK
Most if not all of my art supplies other than
brushes are bought from Ken Bromley art
supplies UK
http://www.artsupplies.co.uk/
*** Photo Credits ***
Thank you to Emmanuel Keller and Steve Tracy
For supplying many of the reference photos used in the paintings in this eBook
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