Bighorn in Watercolour – Laying in Darker Colours

In this series of lessons, I will be showing you how to make a watercolour painting from a bighorn sheep reference. In this session I will be showing you how to lay in some darker tones / colours in order to separate the shadows and lights more clearly.


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

Reference Image:

  • I would begin with the background as this will help separate the bighorn from its surroundings.
  • Use a fairly big brush for speed (and to avoid adding too much detail too quickly).
  • If there are any suggestions of shapes or colour shifts, you can go ahead and suggest them – in a fairly blurry manner ideally (using wet into wet brushwork).
  • Once the background is in place you can start washing darker tones over the subject in shadow.
  • Colours may vary; the horn shadows are much yellower and warmer than the cooler tones of the fur in shadows for example.
  • You can finish by swapping to a smaller brush and adding some more specific dark notes and define the shadow edges more definitively.