The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the most wide-spread hummingbird in the United States. We will be painting him with watercolor.
How to Paint a Hummingbird with watercolors
get ready to paint
I did this painting on an 8x10 Aquabord. It is a sturdy, archival surface for watercolor paintings.
You may certainly use watercolor paper.
Do your watercolor paintings with soft brushes made specifically for painting watercolor.
This painting uses a semi-triad color scheme of yellow, red and green.
All of my watercolor paintings are done with tube watercolors.
- Lemon Yellow or New Gamboge
- Permanent Rose
- Thalo Green or Sap Green
how to paint a hummingbird
Draw the hummingbird on paper and transfer it to the painting surface with graphite paper.
If you are good at drawing, you may do the drawing directly onto the painting surface.
- Mix a light yellow-green and start painting on the top edge of the head and body.
- As you move down the head and body, start painting with a darker green (less yellow).
- Put some dark (mix red and green together to make black) on the underside of the chin and just below the wing where there will be a shadow.
- Paint the beak and eye with the same black. Use less water, so the color will be darker.
- Leave the top-side of the beak unpainted and leave a white highlight in the eye.
- Before the beak dries, use a damp brush and pull diluted color to the top side of the beak. It appears lighter than the bottom because the light will be hitting the top of the beak.
- Darken the head and body by adding more green.
- If the beak and eye dry too light, add more black.
- Leave a bit of white around the eye to differentiate it from the feathers. Many hummingbirds also have a white patch behind the eye.
Now we get to paint where its name came from, the "Ruby-throated Hummingbird".
- Paint his gorget with red.
- Use lighter red near the light and darker red away from the light under his throat. Mix a darker red by adding a bit of its complimentary color - green.
- Put some green out on the tail feathers.
- Add dark to differentiate between the tail feathers. Mix the darker green by adding red.
- Shadow the underside of his belly with a diluted beak color.
- Paint the wings with a diluted version of the beak color.
- You may put darker shadows between the feathers.
- An optional way is to paint the wing feathers all the same light color.
- When the color is almost dry, put some lines to indicate the separation of feathers.
- There is some green that goes from the body up into the base of the wing.
- Put some color down onto the body, but leave a white space below the gorget.
- There is also a bit of white under the body just in front of the tail.
- He has a couple of little black feet tucked up under his body.
- Paint the flower with shades of red that match the ruby-throat of the bird.
- The center petals of the flower are light yellow and the shadows are the same grey as the bird's wings.
- Put some green sepals under the flower to tie it together with the green on the hummer
hooray! the painting is finished.
- You may want to put a wash on the background.
- Dampen the area around the bird and flower before applying your chosen background color.
You may put a wash on the background.
now it's your turn!
Now that you know how to paint a hummingbird, you may want to paint a Ruby-throated Hummingbird or one of the other types of hummers.
See photos of the various types of hummingbirds seen in the United States.
Get Ready to Paint
Paint A Hummingbird