In this free tutorial we are going to paint a cute bumblebee. They are one of my favorite insects!
This bumblebee tutorial is with photo explanation.
- Watercolor paper
- Round brush size 2 or thinner (0 – 000)
- SAKURA Pigma Micron fineliner size 003
- SAKURA Gelly-Roll 10 (Gel pen) or white gouache
- Pencil and eraser
- Clean cloth to clean your brush
If you use another fineliner, at least make sure it is waterproof. Instead of the white gel pen you can also use white gouache.
The paints I used to make this bumblebee tutorial:
- Ivory Black from Winsor & Newton
- G748 (Davy’s grey) from Van Gogh
- G802 (Light gold) from Van Gogh
- G106 (Extra opaque white) from Van Gogh
- G244 (Indian yellow) from Van Gogh
- G254 (Perm. lemon yellow) from Van Gogh
Paper I used for this bumblebee tutorial:
For this tutorial, I used 320 gram Khadi paper. This is handmade paper from India and made of 100% cotton. It has a beautiful texture and is very strong!
Tips before you start
- Every time you use a new coat of paint, clean your brush with clean water. Pat it dry, and then pick up your paint with your brush.
- Rather work with a few more layers than too few. You can use wet-on-wet technique which allows the paint to easily run into each other, or wet-on-dry. Then you let the layer dry completely before painting the new layer.
- Always work from light to dark.
- There is no right or wrong! Have fun and if something goes a little differently than you wanted: embrace it with love! Everything is a learning process.
Your reference photo for the bumblebee tutorial
Step 1: Create your outline of the bumblebee with pencil
See how many bumblebees you want, and where on your paper. Then draw them all first with pencil.
Step 2: Make part of the outline with fineliner
For your own convenience it is useful to already draw a part of the body and the wings with fineliner like the pictures below.
Step 3: The fun part!
Yes, you are ready to paint! Using the color lemon yellow (G254), make the first layer in three places. At the top of the head (1st), at the bottom of the middle part (2nd), and a very thin edge at the top of the butt (3rd) (See reference picture)
Now make with Indian yellow (G244) the first shadows. These are done on the bottom of the head (1st), on the top of the middle body (2nd) and a very thin line also on the top of the butt (3rd)
To make the shadow a little darker use Davy’s gray (G748). If you don’t have this color you can also use a little dark brown or black. Apply this color in a thin line and let it blend in slightly with the Indian yellow above. Apply this color on the bottom of the head (1st), on the top of the middle body (as you can see below it may run a little more) (2nd) and a very thin line also on the top of the butt (3rd)
The next step is with black. Color the head and the middle body. On top you leave a piece of white. The black is applied by dabbing, not sweeping. This gives the paint a certain texture, so that you can imitate the ‘fluffy’ body of the bumblebee quite easily with your watercolors. Also, it doesn’t have to be completely neatly colored in. If there are some small white spots as you can see below: fine! Just leave them there!
Paint the legs. This does not have to be very neat but you also do not have to imitate hairs with your paint. We will do this later with a fineliner.
Now take white watercolor paint and mix it with a very small amount of black, to give it a gray glow (of just use grey if you have). With this you paint the butt, and the middle of the body. You can also paint the legs under the wings with light grey to where the legs come out from under the wings. (See next photo)
The first layer of black is now dry though, and it’s possible that it now looks a bit flaky. To give it some more depth, you can add some lowlights with a second coat. Don’t paint over the entire black layer, but dab on some extra black paint here and there.
Next, clean your brush slightly but not completely. Dab your brush slightly dry on your cloth and now dot in the yellow and white fields to mimic hairs.
Step 4: Details with metallic gold
Use very little metallic gold to paint the edges of the wings. Also dab a little here and there all over the body with your brush. Don’t have metallic gold? Then use light yellow, diluted with lots of water and then do only the wings very lightly along the edges. (Tip: Action also has very nice metallic paint!)
Basically, you could leave the bumblebee as is and it’s finished. I myself like to add details. Do you too? Then move on to the next step!
Step 5: Create hairs with fineliner and white gel pen
Now you go all over the bumblebee, on the head, on the legs, on the body, everywhere you draw thin hairs with your fineliner in size 003.
Now you can draw some white hairs here and there with a white gel pen. On the legs you can make some highlights by putting small dots. Finally you erase the pencil that you can still see and as an extra step you can add some shadows under the feet.
This was the final step!
What did you think of it?
I’m really curious to see how your bumblebee turned out! Will you show it to me? Did you make one or paint more?
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