Tutorial: Painting the Dog

This “mini-lesson” shows step-by-step how I created a watercolor painting of a German Shepard named Lobo.

Barbara Bromley Watercolor painting lobo dog tutorial german shepard

  1. Begin by sketching the dog with an HB pencil.  Make sure your drawing is accurate!  Lighten the pencil lines by dabbing at them with a kneaded eraser.  Contrary to what most books say, once wet, these lines can’t be erased completely.Barbara Bromley Watercolor painting lobo dog tutorial german shepard pencil sketch
  2. Mix the following puddles (a puddle is paint mixed with enough water to dilute it to the desired value):
  • Cobalt blue + Brown Madder (3 puddles: warm purple mixture, red mixture, cool bluish mixture)
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Burnt Sienna + Raw Umber
  • Burnt Sienna + Raw Sienna
  • Sepia + Brown Madder
  • Sepia + French Ultramarine
  • Violet + Burnt Sienna (make two puddles: one more chocolate, and one more burnt sienna dominant)
  • Alizarin Crimson + Burnt Sienna
  1. Mask out small detail areas which you wish to remain white.
  2. Use liquid frisket and a cheap brush coated with standard bar soap to “paint” these white areas.  When the frisket is dry it will look and feel a bit like dried rubber cement.
  3. Next I paint the base washes of the dog.

Glaze water over the entire dog until it glistens evenly;  drop in the following colors and combinations based on where they can be seen in the dog’s face:

  • For the eyes use the raw sienna/burnt sienna & burnt sienna/Alizarin mixtures.  Outline with the cobalt/brown madder mixture, add the pupil using sepia/ultramarine.
  • For the ears paint the raw umber/burnt sienna mixture;  then drop in the cobalt/brown madder mixture;  finish with the ultramarine/sepia mixture before the ear dries.
  • For the face and body let raw umber/burnt sienna bump into ultramarine/sepia & violet/burnt sienna, allowing the colors to blend alongside each other.

** If necessary wet a section at a time to keep the paper wet while painting the base washes of the dog.  It’s important that you paint wet-in-wet not wet-in-dry!!Barbara Bromley Watercolor painting lobo dog tutorial german shepard

  1. Allow all initial washes to dry completely.  Never paint into an area that’s started to dry unless you’re using thick paint straight from the tube.
  2. Rub off the frisket to expose white areas.
  3. Add the final details:
  • Use sepia/ultramarine for dark black highlights.
  • Use Alizarin/burnt sienna for reddish highlights in fur
  • Use a second glaze of raw sienna/burnt sienna and raw umber/burnt sienna to form the area around the mouth and nose.
  • Use a 2nd glaze of alizarin/burnt sienna, cobalt blue/brown madder, and raw umber/burnt sienna for highlights in the dog’s ears.
  • The collar tag is created using alizarin crimson.
  • Use lifting to add lighter areas in the fur.
  1. Finally if you have lost whites such as the whiskers use a rigger brush and a diluted mix of permanent white gouache to paint over the watercolor.


Hope you enjoy!  If you have any questions at all, please use the comment form below.

Thanks, and happy painting!

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