3 ways to paint a giraffe

you want to paint a giraffe!

  • Painting is an expression of the artist.

Paint a giraffe from one of these watercolor giraffe tutorials.

  • A traditional giraffe painting
  • A fun, colorful giraffe painting
  • A painting to get a point across

Painting artist Carol May shows you step by step three different ways to paint a giraffe with watercolor."Mother's Love"

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get ready to paint a giraffe

  • These are preparations for any watercolor painting.

choose your painting surface

Watercolors traditionally are done on watercolor paper.

Modern technology has given us two additional ways to paint watercolors. We may paint on watercolor canvas or the modern Ampersand's Aquabord.

Why do I use Aquabord for my watercolor paintings?

sketch or draw your painting

Use your photos or public domain photos for reference and draw your composition directly onto the painting surface.

If you erase while you are drawing, draw on a separate paper.

Then transfer your drawing to the painting surface with graphite paper, so you won't damage the painting surface.

select your colors

A harmonious painting uses a limited number of colors. Three to five colors is a good choice.

How to choose your color scheme

get you paint ready

I use tube watercolors. I keep them in a covered palette.

When I know what colors I will be using, I spritz them with water to freshen the colors. If the paint is running low, I put more paint into the well.

what else do you need?

Have your watercolor brushes and a container of clean water.

Paper towels are also very handy.

let's paint a giraffe!






a traditional watercolor giraffe painting

  • Use these basic watercolor steps to create your own giraffe paintings.

Wet the area you will be painting.

The colors to paint a giraffe are simply blue and orange, Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna.

Let the water soak away slightly before you start painting.

When the sheen is gone, start painting.

Apply the blue under the shadow side of the mother giraffe's neck.

As you come up the neck, add more water to fade out the blue.

Wet the area where you will painting the watercolors.Wet the area you will be painting


Paint the light areas

  • Define your light source. In this painting the light comes from the upper right.

Shape your subject by painting the light and dark sides according to the light source.

You may shape your object with several light layers of color. Let one layer dry before glazing on the next layer.

Notice the shadows on the baby's neck, jaw and ear. Paint these areas with blue first (step #1). When they are dry, glaze on the light areas.

Paint the lighter areas of watercolor first.Paint the light areas first


Paint the darks

Paint the dark spots over the underpainting. The darker colors will cover the lighter colors.

Adjust the color intensity with more or less water.

The dark spots on the mother's neck are done with one layer of paint. Tube watercolors do not take several layers to get a dark color.

Premix blue and orange on your palette for the very dark brown of the eyes and other darks.

Paint both the mother and baby. Let them dry.

Paint the darks of the watercolor painting.Paint the darks


Paint the background

Before you paint, wet the painting area. Paint before the sheen goes away, so the paint will flow.

Use a large round brush and work quickly to prevent hard edges.

Flick some dark blue spots on for added interest. My idea was to repeat the pattern of giraffe spots.

You may paint a background without spots, which would be great.

It's your individual choice as the artist.

Paint the background around the main subject of the painting.Paint the background
  • Please Note: Some people like to paint the background before the subject. If the subject is painted first, it is easier to see how to contrast the values.

It's a matter of preference, either way is correct.



Detail and finish the painting

Look over your painting for any touches.

Check your values. Make sure you have used light and dark values to define the giraffes.

Toward the light source, I painted and flicked in some orange areas to help tie the subject and background together.

After the paint was dry, I scratched out the highlight on the mother's eye because it had accidentally been painted over.

These are the five basic steps of watercolor painting. Now, detail and finish the painting.Detail and finish the painting




painting a fun, colorful giraffe

  • Paint a giraffe with your own selection of colors.

This painting was done with New Gamboge, Opera Pink, Dioxazine Purple and Thalo Blue.

But choose 3-5 colors that suit your own taste!

Put colors on the wet surface

Draw the giraffe on your painting surface. Mask a highlight for each eye and let it dry.

Wet the surface and brush 3-5 colors on while it is wet. On a large painting you may pour the watercolors.

The colors will flow and mingle together. See how the yellow and pink mixed to create orange.

Some of the purple flowed into green and made mud. I blotted the muddy color off with a paper towel. And replaced it with some pink (see in the next image).

Spritz the outside edges of the colors, so they blend softly onto the white.

Tutorial of a fun, colorful watercolor painting.Put colors on the wet surface


Retrieve your drawing

Let the background colors dry thoroughly.

The paint dries a little lighter than the wet paint. But it may be hard to see the drawing.

Lift the dried paint off the edges of the giraffe.

The beauty of using Aquabord is that the colors will lift.

Lift the dry paint with a damp stiff brush, a fiberglass brush or the eraser on a normal #2 pencil.

The pencil eraser is what I used for most of the lifting.

Darken the rest of the drawing with a #2 pencil.

Pulling the giraffe out of the beautiful colors.Retrieve your drawing


Paint the darks and highlights

Glaze more yellow for the light side of the giraffe and blue or purple for the shadow side.

Look at the giraffe's neck for example, yellow on the left side and blue for the shadow side.

After the glazes are dry, paint the spots with purple.

Complete the painting in a similar manner, yellow for the lights and purple for the shadows.

Green was added to the left of the giraffe to pull it away from the background.

After the paint is dry remove the masking fluid to reveal the highlights in the eyes.

Finish your fun giraffe painting.Paint the darks and highlights

Lots of fun!





an easy giraffe painting

  • Paint a giraffe to get a point across....

Paint the main subject

Paint a giraffe that is quick and easy on #300 watercolor paper with Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine.

Put plenty of paint on your brush and paint on dry paper.

Use clean water to disperse and soften the color.

Example the giraffe's ear, dark paint was put in the shadows and quickly pulled to the outer edge with water.

The giraffe's spots were painted quickly before the lighter underpainting was dry. Then they blended into the damp underpainting with soft edges.

Paint around the highlights in the eyes.

Paint the giraffe subject before the background.Paint the main subject


Paint the reflected giraffe

Turn the painting upside down and paint the second giraffe.

I learned from previous paintings that I need to paint reflections right-side-up.

My mind doesn't like painting upside-down.

This happy giraffe is done in brighter, cheerier colors.

And it has a smile on its face.

Instead of seeing you weighed down by the cares of the world; see yourself beautiful the way God sees you.

How to paint a giraffe reflection.Paint the reflected giraffe


Paint the background

After the giraffes are painted and dry, paint the background.

There is blue water around the reflected giraffe and dirt around the unhappy giraffe.

When I do close-up subjects like these giraffes, I paint the background after the main subject.

It gives me the opportunity to co-ordinate the colors and values against the main subject.

When I paint landscapes, I do the opposite.

First I paint the background and then come forward and paint the focal point.

Paint the background around the giraffes.Paint the background




paint a giraffe - your way!

There you have it, three different versions of how to paint a giraffe.
Use the basic watercolor techniques and create your own version of a giraffe.

  • Wet your painting area.
  • Paint the light areas first.
  • Then paint the darks.
  • Paint the background.
  • Detail and finish the painting.


Most of all - have fun when you paint a giraffe!

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