Watercolor Bear Painting Tutorial - Grizzly Bear Cub Step by Step

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Hi guys, I'm Emily! Welcome to my channel! a few months ago I posted a time-lapse

video of a little grizzly bear cub and I've been getting lots of questions

asking, "Do you have a full-length tutorial?" For today's video I decided to

do a new version of my grizzly bear cub and you'll be able to follow along from

start to finish step-by-step. If you'd like to paint

along with me you can download my reference photo and sketch in the link

below. I begin with a light sketch. When drawing on the outline I leave some

edges blank where I'm planning on the fur being lighter and almost

disappearing into the background. I use a clean brush to wet the bear, allowing the

water to bleed a little past my outline.

When I go in with paint the paint will go where the water goes and I want some

of my edges to look fuzzy, so as I quickly drop in a brown mixture of paint

I drop the paint in almost up to the wet edges, allowing the paint and water to

move together, creating this effortless fuzzy fur texture. While the paint is

still wet I mix up some burnt sienna and alizarin crimson to drop some warm

hints of color into the bear's face.

My paints today, by the way, are the Winsor Newton Cotman set. I'll

include a list in the description of all the supplies I use for this painting. At

this point I am keeping everything loose, painting wet in wet.

This initial wash of color will be a lovely base layer for when I go in and

add darker values and more details later.

It's time to go darker. The ears are a great place to begin adding deeper

shadows. My dark brown is a mixture of Payne's grey, burnt sienna, and alizarin. I

can mix in some black to make the ears even darker and I'm really careful not

to let any hard or unnatural looking edges form around the ears. You see me

frequently softening edges with a clean damp brush and bringing in more fur

texture with the splayed bristles of my round brush.

I moved down to the fur area below the bear's head using a rich warm brown,

avoiding strands of fur here and there. I want to leave some highlights in the fur

for a more realistic look. If I paint using the broad side of my brush I can

work with the texture of the paper so some of the highlights can result from a

dry brush technique raked across the surface. If you look

at my reference photo you can see I just took a grizzly cub photo, and had to do

some rather poorly done Photoshop work to get the shape and pose I wanted for

my bear cub. Remember the photo doesn't have to be

perfect to make a good painting - you can always fix areas that are lacking during

the painting process.

There is always a point (or maybe several points!) during the painting process where

I think, "Oh no, is it even worth my time to continue?" If you feel like this, too,

don't worry! You can push through. Every painting goes through an ugly

phase. Don't give up, and if you get to the end and you still think it's ugly,

well you can always paint another one!

The key to painting a realistic furry animal is patience. Working with quick, short

brushstrokes and small brushes, you can create a very convincing fur texture.

I definitely go the slowest when I'm painting the crucial details like the

eyes. The eyes need to be symmetrical, the values need to be dark enough, and I must

be careful not to paint over the highlights.

I always paint the fur around the eye right away so that I can more easily

blend it together.

Having the black eyes painted in early on helps me better see how much or how

little I need to darken the rest of the bear.

Now that the chest is dried I can go in with an even darker layer of fur

textures. I always work in layers when painting heavy coats of fur; this gives

it depth and color variety. Because I'm right-handed naturally I tend to work

left to right when painting to avoid dragging my arm through wet washes but

fortunately watercolor dries quickly so if you prefer to jump around in a

painting watercolor is a good medium for that.

My bear's nose has a cool blue tone to it so I add a light wash of ultramarine.

I continue to add more small brush strokes for fur details and refine

the eyes some more.

Before doing the forehead I re-wet the whole area. I want the fur to look softer

and fuzzier here.

I paint in the other eye using a small round brush.

I keep adding layer after layer of small brushstrokes in varying shades and

values, always painting in the direction that the fur is growing.

The right side of the bear is more in the light. I paint in this area a little

looser with quicker broader brush strokes. For the nose I start with the

top which is in the light, paint on a light wash of ultramarine, avoiding the

highlights. While this is still wet I quickly paint in a shadow on the left

side, letting it blend wet into wet, then paint the large nostrils with pure black.

I dip my brush in water to make the color less intense then do the furry

black muzzle beneath the nose using the splayed bristles of a round brush.

To create a convincing transition from light to dark across the bear's face I

need to deepen the shadows inside the eye sockets with more brown and also

darken the left side of the white muzzle. I do this with a watered down mixture of

blue and black.

A few more details in the nose make it look even more real.

If you'd like to learn more about painting fur in watercolor you can

check out my five tips and tricks for painting fur and if you'd like to see

the process in real time check out my three-part video series on painting

puppy fur in watercolor.

I hope you enjoyed this video! If you did please be sure to hit the like button

and subscribe if you're new here and also turn on the bell so you never miss

any new videos. I'll be posting new content every Tuesday, Thursday, and

Saturday, and if you have any questions please leave me a comment below and

share with all your friends who are interested in watercolor!

Thank you so much for watching!