Painting Realistic Animals: Wildlife Painting Tips and Techniques
|June 8, 2011||Posted by Jacob Devies under Painting Animals|
What makes an animal or wildlife painting great? There are several key elements as demonstrated in A Lion King by British painter Julie Cousins.
- It’s easy to get caught up in the surface details and forget the skeletal and muscular structure of the animal you’re painting. One of the strengths of this painting is the strong profile – you can literally feel the bony ridge of this lion’s nose.
- Understanding the species’ distinct features and depicting what you see will elevate your work beyond a caricature of the animal. Unlike humans, there a wide variety of noses and beaks, the eyes may be set to the side as in predator birds and there may be vast differences between an animal family or similarities. Even though the whiskers aren’t visible in this portrait, there’s an indication of the whisker locations in the pattern of dots on the lion’s upper lip – a characteristic that all felines share.
- Texture is one of the most important features of any animal or wildlife painting. Notice the shorter hairs along the lion’s nose as compared to the longer and layered texture of the mane. The texture and layering of fur, feathers, skin or scales in your painting will contribute to a realistic, three-dimensional look.
- This painting uses a dark, indistinct background which enhances the regal profile. If, however, you’re including the animal’s habitat in your painting, pay as much attention to those details as to the animal’s uniqueness. Most wildlife art juried competitions are judged equally on the accurateness of the subject and its habitat.
Paint Realistic Animals in Acrylic with Lee Hammond
If you’re wanting to paint realistic animals, this is a great book to have. The author goes over many different animals (including a turtle, goat, horses, and even a snake!), not just the standard dog, cat and bunny. Great step by steps as well as ‘reassurance’ for that ugly stage of painting.
Getting Started in Animal Painting
Whether you’re working in a realistic or abstract style, reference photographs are a poor second source as the basis of an animal or wildlife painting.
It’s hard enough to get human subjects to stay still – animals are almost impossible. Practice doing quick one-minute sketches. Focus on a specific detail – the eyes, the shape, the surface texture. Sketch from several different angles and use your accumulated sketches for the details that your photographs won’t capture.
Experiment with techniques in your preferred medium to create the textures in your subject. For example, the lion’s mane could be layered and textured with an impasto technique in oils. One of the keys with fur and hair is to create the strokes in the direction in which they naturally flow – an impossibility unless you turn your paper or canvas slightly as you work so that you can maintain that wrist movement comfortably.
And, finally pay attention to the eyes. As with human eyes, you’ll usually find at least two bright highlights. The richness of this cat’s iris was created with several washes to build the subtle flecks of color.
Drawing And Painting Animals: The Essential Guide
In this “best of the best” guide, ten best-selling artists share their favorite tips for rendering wildlife, beloved pets and farmyard animals. More than 30 step-by-step demonstrations provide key lessons that make painting these subjects less intimidating and more fun.
Painting Captive Animals – explore the world of statues, gargoyles & grotesques
If you’re looking for inspiration for an “animal painting, try exploring the world of statues, gargoyles and grotesques. Legend traces gargoyles back to an ancient tale, circa 600 A.D. La Gargouille, a dragon with a long reptilian neck, a slender snout and membranous wings was conquered by St. Roman in Rouen, France. The monster was burned but its head and neck would not burn. These remnants were mounted on the newly-built church becoming the model for gargoyles for centuries to come.
New York City has the highest population of these monsters outside of Europe because the city was in the midst of a Gothic revival when it was expanding at the turn of the century.
Look for these creatures or statues in your area, in your travels or via the websites. Don’t neglect statues – a trip to Washington, DC inspired two pieces – one of a majestic lion, the other a horseman; both challenging pieces due to the reflections on their metallic surfaces.
Painting Realistic Wildlife in Acrylic: 30 Step-By-Step Demonstrations
One measure of a painting’s success is the emotion it elicits from its viewer; William Silvers’ wildlife scenes make your pulse quicken and your breath catch as you witness some of nature’s most miraculous everyday moments. The midnight prowl of a wolf… a sea lion diving into choppy surf… a pride of elephants at a watering hole in the thick, dusty air. In this book, Silvers shares his secrets for capturing the drama, the atmosphere and the very essence of wildlife.
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