Bighorn in Watercolour – Initial Wash Painting

In this series of lessons, I will be showing you how to make a watercolour painting from a bighorn sheep reference. In this first session we will be going straight in with a watercolour wash.


  • Watercolour paper
  • Several small – medium soft brushes
  • Watercolour paints (anything you have to hand)
  • Water pot
  • Paper towel or rag

Reference Image:

  • Begin by using extremely diluted watercolour with your biggest brush.
  • It doesn’t matter what colours you use really, as this initial pass of paint will be so light.
  • Try to keep your lines simple as you feel out the proportions.
  • Make sure to correct anything that is wrong as soon as you notice. The fewer proportion mistakes at this stage, the easier it will be to continue with the rest of the piece.
  • Once the general shapes are blocked in, you can use the diluted paint to start massing in the darker shadowy regions of the piece.
  • Then you can use the smaller brush to start developing more specific details across the piece.
  • You can make the paint less diluted for this stage (not super dark – just slightly darker than the first pass over).
  • If you have got pretty good proportions from the first two stages, you should find it a bit easier / more relaxing to start laying in details.