Techniques – Painting animals with watercolor, bic pens, and hot press

Comments (0) Illustration

First things first, I didn’t create this technique, I simply cobbled it together after watching two movies and speaking with a friend of mine who is a great watercolor artist. I’ll be discussing my sources at the end of this article.

This is a method of painting animals, or anything you like, using Photoshop, a printer, watercolors, bic pens, and hot press paper. I got a commission to paint a rabbit and I wanted to achieve two things. First, I wanted to make a detailed, accurate, high-quality painting for my client. Second, I wanted to make it as fast as possible, so I could do more work in a day.


1) I made a few quick pose sketches.

2) I refined the basic line work in Photoshop. Photoshop is so fast for editing anatomy and proportion. Plus I don’t leave pencil residue on the nice watercolor paper.

3) I took my line work and reduced the opacity down to about 10%. You will need to experiment with this part, since all printers are different. Then I made the layer set to “Screen” and I made that layer brown. This tints the line work slightly brown, making it less obtrusive. You can use any color that suits you.

4) I took the print out and did some testing with the bic pens and my watercolors (supply list is provided at the end of the article). NOTHING BLED! I was supremely impressed. Both the ink from the printer and the bic pens stayed perfectly.

5) I started to do the real inking on a second printout, keeping the first printout for testing. The hot press paper feels a bit like fine sand paper so I used a smudge guard on my hand while inking. I also taped the watercolor paper down to an artist board to prevent buckling and give me a clean edge. At this point, I wasn’t sure how I was going to paint it and it’s best to be safe than sorry.

6) Then it was just a matter of painting the rabbit with watercolors. I started with light washes and built it up over time.



7) The final step was adding some white ink around the ears and eyes.


8) Add here you have it! The final rabbit. Please let me know what you thought of this tutorial in the comments below!


Want to try this technique for yourself? Download my free animal reference image pack here! It has all sorts of things from skulls, to birds, to this itchy caribou.

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This technique was cobbled together after watching a movie from Aaron Blaise and a movie from Jake Parker. Additional advice on the specifics of the Photoshop to printer to watercolor paper process was provided by Abrian Curington.

Aaron’s Movie
Jake’s Movie
Abrian’s Website

I don’t know Aaron or Jake personally, but they have a number of great resources and I would recommend you check those out. I’ve known Abe for about one year now and her site is getting better and better. I would definitely follow her endeavors.

I have included a few options to help with prices and sizes.

Small Glove (I have very small hands. These fit me)

Medium Glove

Large Glove

I have some more posts that you might like too.
How to Win at Creative Adult – The Two List Method

How to Win at Creative Adult – Mindfulness and Fighting Stress

How to Win at Creative Adult – Exercise

How to Win at Creative Adult – Drawing at Zoos and Aquariums

How to Win at Creative Adult – Dealing with Frustration and Fear

How to Win at Creative Adult – Focus

How to Win at Creative Adult – Finding Inspiration

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