Tutorial – How to Paint an Alebrije Mongoose

Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen and Miya Solid Watercolors on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard.

This painting is what is known as a ‘line and wash’ because it is drawn in pen first and then painted with watercolor.

Before You Start

Okay – this time I started out with the purpose of trying out a new set of paints, and the finished animal was really secondary. I knew I’d be fussing and experimenting and who knows what I’d get. For this reason, I decided to make my mongoose an Alebrije.

Alebrijes are a Mexican folk art, usually paper mache or wood carving. They are noted for their strange appearance, often being imaginary animals or a blend of two or three animals or just brightly colored abstract animals.

So, I didn’t have to worry about realism at all, and could concentrate on what the paint was doing.


(This scan is darkened so you can see the pencil lines. You should pencil lines in lightly)

I kept my drawing simple. This was a big fluffy mongoose – essentially two round shapes with a couple of rectangular shapes for the legs. Eyes and nose were round. The ears were more free-form, but still had a circular arc, like a sliver of the moon.

Complex subjects can be harder to break down into such simple shapes, but they are there, and you’ll find it easier to draw it if you can identify as many of the shapes as you can. Start with the overall larger shapes – draw them first – and then drill down smaller until you have the level of detail you want.

Not sure if you’re up to drawing this? Art Tutor has a great grid program that will help by applying a grid to your uploaded photo. You can also crop and adjust color and value.


I wanted this painting to be about the color, so I kept my pen drawing to the outlines, a little bit of texture to show fur, and placing the stripes. In real life, this mongoose has a complex ticked fur, where each hair has bands of different color. I’ll probably go back some day and try for a more realistic approach.

Today, I’m all about the experiment!

This is a good way to learn how your tools perform, by the way. Since you are experimenting, you don’t worry as much if you totally screw up the finished product. You decide what tool you want to focus on – in this case, the paint – and you just don’t worry about anything else.


This actually ended up with more furry texture than I thought it would.

Let me introduce you to the paint I was trying. I’ll be doing a more intensive review after I’ve used these for a while. Miya Arts sent me one of their solid watercolor travel kits. The set is so cute, I just wanta hug it! You know I’ll be doing a thorough review, soon!

The colors got a little muddy, because I was mixing them pretty much at random, just to see what I’d get. In a way, I think that’s why the fur turned out with a more realistic texture even though the color is pretty wild.

I painted three layers – a base of lemon yellow blended with areas of medium yellow. When that dried, I added peach for the stripes and painted over the yellows in some areas for medium values. I added tehran(blue) for shadows.

The head didn’t seem to pop enough for me, so I grabbed the technical pen and darkened the lines around it, and finished off with a Uniball Signo pen for highlights on the fur.

I had fun and learned something, my mongoose looks happy, and I hope he brings you a smile!


And where you can buy them

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review).

MIYA Solid Water Colors Palette-18 Colors

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Published by Life Imitates Doodles Art, Reviews & Tutorials

Artist Ambassador for Zebra Pens. I'm a self-taught artist who dances about with all sorts of artistic mediums. My main loves are Watercolor, Zentangle and Ballpoint pen. The subjects of my work are many and varied and change at whim. I'm a little bit crazy, but doesn't that come with being an artist? At my Life Imitates Doodles Blog, I post a list of resource links for Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways two times a week. I also write reviews, hold giveaways and share my art work.

5 thoughts on “Tutorial – How to Paint an Alebrije Mongoose

  1. Ohhh I like letting my mind run amuck! He is very colorful! Your teaser about the paint set has me on the edge of my seat. It looks very interesting. I can’t wait for the review!

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