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A Feathery Focus: Painting A Bald Eagle Portrait

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Step 3: Mid-Tones And Layering With The “Wet-In-Wet” Method


For the next layer, mix Burnt Umber with a touch of French Ultramarine. You can mix on the palette before dropping it on top of the wet base layer, which will result in a softer blend.

With this color, paint the mid-tones of your bald eagle portrait – in the chest, around the neck, and under the right wing. With Burnt Sienna, paint under the left wing, and build up colors by layering in the same tapered brushstrokes as before. Paint in the same direction of the feathers as well, and keep checking the reference photo to see where the different values (i.e. lights vs darks) go in this bald eagle portrait.

Mix in more Ultramarine, and add this to the left wing via the “wet-in-wet” technique (i.e. wet paint on a wet surface). Next, add more Burnt Sienna to your mixture, and paint the area next to the beak for a better contrast and composition.

Use more Burnt Umber to paint the left side of the eagle, and add Cobalt Blue Hue to it for a darker brown for the shadows. For even darker areas, mix more saturated Burnt Sienna with Ultramarine, then paint under the right wing. Note that watercolors always dry lighter, so factor that in when mixing your paints!