How to Paint White Animals in Watercolor with Denise Soden — SkillShare — Free download

Painting animals at either end of the value spectrum can be challenging, especially using watercolors. This is the second class in a two-part mini series exploring painting black and white animals in watercolor to help you feel more confident and comfortable with these subjects.

In this class, we will:

  • Discover how to evaluate color in reference photos of white animals.
  • Explore how to use color to create interesting values in watercolors.
  • Learn how to create impactful contrast in lightly valued subjects.
  • Decide whether or not to include a background for your portraits.
  • Create both a realistically colored portrait of a white animal as well as a more whimsical portrait emphasizing colors found in their natural fur, feathers, or scales.

This is an advanced class that intends to help you harness your skills for your watercolor tool kit. It is not a class that will teach a single tutorial from start to finish. Ambitious beginners are welcome, but please participate in the prerequisite classes before attempting this one set yourself up for success.

Prerequisite Classes

  • Mastering Water Control: Harness the Power of Water in Watercolors
  • How to Draw & Paint Animal Eyes in Watercolor
  • Fur, Feathers, and Scales: Painting Animal Textures in Watercolors
  • How to Paint Black Animals in Watercolor

Materials (Video #2)
You will need basic but high quality watercolor supplies for this class. I have listed the general information below and the specific supplies I am using in brackets.

  • Cotton Watercolor Paper [140lb Arches Cotton Watercolor Paper (Cold Pressed)]
  • Watercolor Brushes [Silver Black Velvet Round Brushes, Sizes 2-8]
  • Artist Quality Watercolor Paints [Da Vinci Paint Co. Watercolors (Affiliate Link)]
  • Mounting Board [Artist Loft Canvas Panel]
  • Masking or Paint Tape [ProTapes General Masking Tape]
  • Two Containers for Water
  • Reusable Rag or Paper Towels
  • Pencils [General’s Kimberly Graphite Pencils, Col Erase Colored Pencils, Pilot Eno Pencils]
  • Erasers [Faber-Castell Dust Free & Faber-Castell Kneaded]
  • Masking Fluid (optional) [Jackson’s Masking Fluid]
  • White Ink or Gouache [Mission Design Color Matte White]

Use what you have on hand, but if you need any recommendations, check out my “Skillshare: White Animals” list over on Amazon:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Class Project (Video #8)
In this advanced class, you will ideally be choosing your own subject and color palette. However, this class also includes two demonstrations that you’re welcome to follow along with as well if you would prefer. These demonstrations are not fully detailed tutorials, however they will show you how I apply the concepts from this class into an actual painting. I am so excited to see everyone’s pets and other favorite animals in the Class Project Gallery!

Demonstration: Llama (Videos #9-10)
We start off our demonstration paintings with a more realistic color palette of greys and earth tones. Using my favorite grey mixture of Da Vinci’s Cerulean Blue and Indian Red, we begin with a value map to block in the areas of the painting that will not be stark white. This demonstration is organized with the following segments:

  • References, Supplies, and Color Selection  (Part 1, Timestamp 0:00)
  • Step 1: Prepare the Sketch  (Part 1, Timestamp 1:40)
  • Step 2: Prepare the Paper (Part 1, Timestamp 3:50)
  • Step 3: Begin the Value Map (Part 1, Timestamp 6:25)
  • Step 4: Add Color (Part 2, Timestamp 0:00)
  • Step 5: Backgrounds & Negative Painting (Part 2, Timestamp 2:10)
  • Step 6: Add Dark Values (Part 2, Timestamp 6:50)
  • Step 7: Adjust Midtones (Part 2, Timestamp 10:55)
  • Step 8: Gouache Details & Painting Fine Hairs (Part 2, Timestamp (11:25)
  • Step 9: Removing the Masking Tape (Part 2, Timestamp 17:55)

Demonstration: Alligator (Videos #11-12)
We continue our exploration of painting white animals in watercolor with an albino alligator using a much more colorful selection of paint. Using our reference for inspiration, we’re going to bump up the saturation to create a lively portrait. This demonstration is organized with the following segments:

  • References, Supplies, and Color Selection (Part 1, Timestamp 0:00)
  • Step 1: Add Main Color (Part 1, Timestamp 1:05)
  • Step 2: Add Second Color (Part 1, Timestamp 4:50)
  • Step 3: Begin Placing Shadows (Part 1, Timestamp 8:55)
  • Step 4: Begin Working on Details (Part 1, Timestamp 13:15)
  • Step 5: Add Background (Part 1, Timestamp 14:55)
  • Step 6: Adjust Values (Part 2, Timestamp 0:00)
  • Step 7: Build Details (Part 2, Timestamp 1:25)
  • Step 8: Darken Shadows (Part 2, Timestamp 18:20)
  • Step 9: Refine Teeth (Part 2, Timestamp 24:10)
  • Step 10: Adjust Values (Part 2, Timestamp 30:15)
  • Step 11: Add Highlights (Part 2, Timestamp 31:10)

Copyright Free Photo Reference Sites:

Remember to:

  • Ask any questions you may have under the “Discussion” tab.
  • Upload your finished painting as a Class Project.
  • Leave a review to let me know what you thought of this class.
  • Follow me here on Skillshare so that you can be notified when the next class is released!

I hope to see you in the next one!

Music & Photography
All music sourced from and is listed by lesson number.
1 Blue by iamdaylight
2 Sliders by Assaf Ayalon
3 Ready to Go by Assaf Ayalon
4 Blue On by Assaf Ayalon
5 2days by Assaf Ayalon
6 Altitude by Noted
7 Blue by iamdaylight
8 First by iamdaylight
9 Blue On by Assaf Ayalon
11 Blue On by Assaf Ayalon
13 Blue by iamdaylight

Other Artists’ Work Behind Me
Fairytale Fox Designs (Succulent TARDIS)
Mary Doodles (T-Rex Unicorn)
Sushi Art Studio (Eagle & Badger with Scarves)

All of the animal photographs used as reference for this class were sourced from Pixabay, a royalty free photography website.

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