How to paint a realistic honey bee in watercolor


Hi everyone, In this tip video I wanted to
show you how I go about painting the hairy texture of this bee. Clearly I’ve painted
him massively enlarged – courtesy of a photograph by photographer Irin K. This means I can capture
MASSES of his hairiness. The key issue we have when painting the bee
in watercolour is that we have a lot of black hairs interspersed with a few yellow hairs,
and visa versa. We need to get the tones, or values of these hairs correct so that it
looks realistic, but we’ve also got to be very careful that wet black paint doesn’t
mix with wet yellow paint to create a brown mess, with no clearly defined hairs. Here’s how I go about it Firstly I lay down a watery wash to match
to the lightest tone I can see within each hue areas beginning with the yellows and browns.
Within the black hue areas I am applying yellow to match to the yellow hairs visible in those
areas. I only apply watery black paint to the areas that are totally black. Even at
this early stage I apply the paint in lots of little lines to achieve the hairy look. Once that’s dry I go in with the very darkest
tones, with some thick black paint to the black areas, leaving little gaps where there
are lighter tones within them. Crucially having these dark tones in place
allows me to see just how much darker I need to take the yellow and brown areas. And it’ss
really important that I get these colours dark enough BEFORE I paint in the dark black
hairs over the top. Because once the thick black paint is on, it will be hard to darken
up yellow around them with more watery yellow paint without it bleeding and muddying. I still apply the paint in little lines in
the direction of the hairs I see on the bee. Once that yellow and brown is dry I work with
some milky consistency black paint and my tiny brush to start to add in lots of the
black hairs, working to make sure they are facing in the right direction in each area.
Working with the black paint in this milky consistency means it’s not too thick and will
be easier to work over and around in future layers without bleeding. Once these black hairs are in place, the contrast
levels can be seen to be too high and I can judge that my yellows and browns still need
to be taken darker in a number of places. So I let the black hairs dry and then go in
with a larger brush and some milky grey and beige mixes to darken up much of the bee,
adding detail as I go including pale grey hairs added to the lighter yellow stripes
of the bee. But I still make sure I still allow plenty
of gaps for the lighter yellow paint from the previous layer to be visible through to
serve as the light yellow hairs. Once that’s dry I can go in with a final layer
of lots of little black hairs, this time added with really thick dark black paint, confident
that at this stage my contrast levels are looking correct and I won’t need to darken
up around them with yellow paint again. Adding the hairs is a slow process that, in
reality took me close to an hour. But I find it really relaxing and fun as, at this stage
the bee is really popping off the paper. I hope you enjoyed this tip video and decide
to have a go at your own bee. If you’d like a detailed tutorial on how to paint this bee,
showing you every detail and in real time, you can access it via my online school.

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