learn how to paint a watercolor hummingbird. they are fun to paint!

  • Step-by-step instructions on how to paint a watercolor hummingbird.

We will be painting a watercolor Ruby-throated Hummingbird visiting a fuchsia flower.

what materials do you need?

This painting is on a 8x10 Aquabord.

Aquabord is a sturdy, archival board that may be framed without using a glass cover over your painting. It is my favorite painting surface for watercolors.

You may certainly use watercolor paper.

It is best to do watercolor paintings with soft brushes.


This painting uses a semi-triad color scheme of yellow, red and green.

  • Lemon Yellow or New Gamboge
  • Permanent Rose
  • Thalo Green or Sap Green

Painting with only three or four colors will produce unity and harmony in your paintings.

All of my watercolor paintings are done with tube watercolors.

A tutorial on how to paint a watercolor hummingbird by the painting artist Carol MayHow to paint a watercolor hummingbird

how to paint a watercolor 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.

Your goal is to eliminate erasures on the painting surface because they can damage the painting surface.

  • You may want to put some masking fluid on the fuchsia, the stamens and the edge of the white petals.

Start painting the green back and beak of the hummingbirdStart painting the green back and beak
  • Start painting the top edge of the head and body with the tip of your brush simulating the small feathers.

Use a light yellow-green mixture. As you move down the head and body, start painting with a darker green (less yellow).

  • Shadow the underside of the chin and just below the wing with a dark mixture of red and green that makes black.
  • Paint the beak and eye with the same mixture. 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.

Darken top of body and highlight the beak of the hummingbirdDarken top of body and highlight the beak
  • Before the beak dries, use a damp brush and pull diluted color to the top side of the beak where the light will be hitting.

If the beak and eye dry too light, paint them again with more black.

  • Darken the head and body by adding more green. Still use the tip of your brush to simulate the small feathers.
  • Leave a bit of white around the eye to differentiate it from the feathers. Many hummingbirds, also have a white patch behind the eye.

Paint the gorget and tail feathers of the hummingbirdPaint the gorget and tail feathers

Now comes the fun part of painting a watercolor hummingbird. We get to paint where its name came from, the "Ruby-throated Hummingbird".

  • Paint his gorget with red. Use lighter red up towards the light and darker red away from the light under his throat.

Mix the darker red for under the throat, by adding a bit of its complimentary color - green.

  • Put some green out on the tail feathers.

Add some 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.

Start painting the wings of the hummingbirdPainting the wings of your watercolor hummingbird.
  • 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.

Paint the hummingbird's undersidePaint the hummer's underside with feet
  • 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.

How to paint a fuchsia flower with watercolorPaint the flower with freedom
  • Freely paint the flower petals with shades of red that match the ruby-throat of the bird. (Remove any masking before painting the flower.)

The petals will be lighter on their ends and darker where they attach. Leaving some sparks of white gives the flower life.

  • 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 hummingbird.

After the flower is totally dry, erase the pencil lines.

hooray! the painting is finished.

How to paint a Ruby-throat Hummingbird with a fuchsia flowerYou may put a wash on the background.
  • You may want to put a wash on the background. It's your choice.
  • Dampen the area around the bird and flower before applying your chosen background color.

now it's your turn!

Now that you know how to paint a watercolor hummingbird, you may want to paint a Ruby-throated Hummingbird or one of the other types of hummingbirds.

happy painting!

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