Bighorn in Watercolour – Developing the Halftones

In this series of lessons, I will be showing you how to make a watercolour painting from a bighorn sheep reference. In this session we will be adding transitions and textures in the halftones.


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

Reference Image:

  • Begin by adding the darkest halftones in gradual washes. These will be developed out of the shadow edge.
  • Try to avoid adding tone in the light areas for now as we don’t want to lose the luminosity of the image.
  • You can allow the brush to splay a bit because this will create a texture that emulates fur.
  • Once the halftones are in, you can go back into the shadows and start to lay some darker sections again.
  • This will likely be needed to create enough tonal space for the halftones to work.
  • Likewise, you can push the background much darker as well, because this will help to pop out the bighorn and enhance the glow of the lightest parts.
  • You can use wet washes at the edge of this dark tone to create a blurry transition.