How to Draw a Koala Bear-Fun & Easy Tutorial and Challenge

Artwork: Zebra Zensation Fineliners & Mechanical Colored Pencils in a Hahnemühle 1584 peach DotGrid notebook.

Challenge: Draw a Koala bear! You can use my step-out below or just draw one any way you wish!

First, I apologize because my scanner is having trouble with the right colors, so you’ll have to take my word for the colors in some of this tutorial.

If enough people give me feedback and indicate they are getting benefit from this tutorial, I’ll continue doing them, and may even try to do some videos. But those take time, so I won’t do them until I know there is reason to.

If you want a place to share your artwork (not just from my challenge or tutorials), I have a Facebook group Fun & Easy Artwork. It used to be Fun & Easy Landscapes, but it is now open to all kinds of artwork.

Now – the Koala step out.

For my example, I used one of the new Hahnemühle 1584 DotGrid notebooks that has a section of peach colored paper (the step-out was drawn on one of the DotGrid pages). I felt the peach was a nice base color for colored pencil drawing.

I used a Fineliner pen to draw the picture.

With a purple colored pencil, I lightly added the first layer of color. The method I used here is called squirkling. In essence, it is just scribbling in circles. It is a great way to blend colors, and adds an interesting texture for woolly fur.

Things to note:

  • I scribbled lightly
  • I left LOTs of open space
  • I colored the nose in lightly but no squirkling.
  • I colored the ears with straight lines, not squirkling
    • to show longer hair
  • I colored the darkest where there will be shadows
    • Under the head and ears,
    • under the furry part of the ears,
    • along the bottom

Okay, this looks like brown, but I squirkled some more with gray pencil.

Things to note:

  • I still left open space
  • I left lighter areas around the edges
  • I squirkled darkest next to the lighter areas
    • This kind of shading makes the figure look more rounded
  • I colored the nose darker at the edges and added white in the center
    • This gives the nose a different texture and highlight than the fur.

It’s hard to see in the scan, but I added white on the tummy and under arms & legs, around the eyes, nose and mouth and on the ears.

I used a violet red color to squirkle the tree trunk and a yellow green for the foliage.

Things to note:

  • I left lots of open space for added color later
  • I used larger squirkles- almost figure 8’s – for the trunk
  • I used larger squirkles in the lower bushes than in the upper tree

I wasted a lot of time trying to get true color, so I’ve skipped some steps in coloring the background. But it’s mostly the same kind of coloring, so I think you can figure it out.

I used a golden brown on the trunk, and this time I colored it in solid. Then I squirkled with the purple pencil that I used for the base on the koala.

I squirkled olive green on the foliage.

I used the purple to add the spots on the lower foliage. I wanted to add some interest without adding a lot of detail.

In the upper foliage, I added a repeated pattern of purple squirkling along each loop of the tree. It’s just a little half-circle of shading, but it creates texture and the feeling of depth among the foliage.

With white pencil, I squirkled a few clouds. I colored over some of the clouds later to give the sky more a stormy look.

Next a blue pencil was used for the sky, colored in strokes about an inch in length. I tried to keep the strokes going in the same direction. In some areas I used lighter pressure so that the sky wasn’t too monotone in color.

For my last step, I burnished. This means I used a light-colored pencil, and with heavy pressure, colored solidly over the other colors to blend and unify them. This is a common method, usually done with white or clear blender pencil. It should be done as the last step, as it is difficult to add any more color once done.

I used white to burnish the koala, and yellow-green for the foliage.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and go on to create many koalas of your own!

Remember, you are welcome to join my Facebook group Fun & Easy Artwork to share your work.


Hahnemühle 1584 (review) at:

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Zebra Pen Zensations Sarasa Fineliner Pen

Zebra Zensations Mechanical Colored Pencils

The Big Bang

I was ill this week and just as I started feeling better, my mother became ill. As a consequence, I’ve done very little artwork. I feel blessed, because I have this HUUUGE stockpile of older art, and new readers who haven’t seen it.

This is a piece that I did back in 2010. I don’t remember the paper I used, unfortunately, but I did a pretty extensive write-up with the pens and tangle patterns that I used.

Here’s the write-up:

I drew strings with a micron, and then drew Fescu. Then Galatea. Then Bubbles & Quatiny variations. I had a vague idea of turning my Bubbles into Nipa. Color suddenly seemed desirable for the bubbles, so I grabbed some tombows and ended up coloring the page. Little thought here–I know how my colors work together. You follow steps just like you would with a pattern. Blue, then pink, then shades of yellow, ending up with the lightest last. Then a darker blue in corners to make things pop.

So then sparkle took my fancy, and I grabbed up the gellyroll white and metallic gold. I started drawing the tangle Eke, and doing asterisks and stippling, then smearing it all. I even did some Cubine in the upper right corner and smeared it.

During this process of dotting and spotting and smearing, there was a big bang in my head (some people call this an idea, but to me it’s a lot more exciting than that, lol!)

I liked the way the color and texture were building up, and they seemed more interesting than the linework. The color and texture had to dominate. So I continued with my white and gold, going over most of the micron lines, sometimes dotting, sometimes covering, until the line mostly became pattern.

So there was impulse here, and decision. I mostly laid down color or pattern, and my finger smeared it into shading and texture. Other than thinking that I would use certain patterns, follow certain steps for adding color, and deciding to turn most of the lines into pattern–I don’t feel I thought that much. After I finished, I was totally relaxed and refreshed. I had absolutely no idea what my husband had been watching on the TV, and was surprised to find I had taken about an hour to do this.

Wrap-Around Tree Fun and Easy Step-out

The Wrap-Around Tree is an example of a simple drawing that can be hard to do.  It’s the curves that are likely to throw you. 

The experienced artist won’t have much of a problem.  But for someone who hasn’t drawn freehand very often, those gentle sweeps and curls can be hard.  Face it, most of the time we are trying to get a straight line.  When we sew, when me measure, cut – almost always, we are trying to get a straight line.

Then you sit down to draw, and – what’s this? Sweeping and swerving all over the place when you’ve spent your life trying to avoid that?

I do urge you to try those curvy lines.  It can take some practice, but will enrich your drawings and I think it also means you’ve let go of a certain mentality – for the moment – and let yourself just flow. It can be both relaxing and energizing. 

But, frustration doesn’t help in any way. So  I’ve done a simplified step-out, using just straight lines.  If the curves throw you, use the simplified version.  Once you are familiar with drawing the tree itself, then go back later and try the curves again.

Pajama Walrus – Pencil to Paint

The Pajama Walrus always feels sad. Even though he’s always in his jammies, no one ever invites him for a sleep-over.

Believe it or not!

Today’s postcard is done on a Hahnemühle rough watercolor postcard.

This is another animal that I draw freehand without worrying about my grid cards. A lot of the work in the drawing stage involves planning. What do I want to do with the drawing? Is it going to be an Alebrijes or other fantasy-type creation or a realistic drawing. What kind of line-work and colors will I want?

If I’m doing an Alebrijes, I want to exaggerate more. I’ll make some features a little smaller or a little larger. Here I made the head and the eye a bit smaller to emphasize the bulk of the body. I also started thinking about the patterns I wanted.

The line-work and colors question is important because when I do my pen-work, I need to know how much of it I want to show. With alebrijes, I tend to go heavier with the lines, especially the shading. With natural looking animals, I want the ink lines to show, but not be dominant.

Having said that, I decided to stay with medium lines for my Alebrije walrus.  Part of their charm is that they are sort of a big blubbery thing without much separation so I wanted to keep that.

I also decided that the reflection was going to be important, but that it would rely mostly on color.

Zebra Zensations Technical pens are my favorite because they give a consistent line, don’t dry out too fast (though I don’t keep the cap off for long) and they hold up even to rough surfaced paper. I used .03 tip this time because I was going for medium line-width.

Photo Reference Courtesy of Skeeze on Pixabay.

I’ve been playing a lot with watercolor brush pens and pencils, but I do have a preference for good old watercolor pigments. I find myself grabbing
the Daniel Smith Ultimate Mixing set most often because the wide range of colors is good whether I’m painting an alebrijes or realistic animal.

The colors used were Phthalo Blue GS, Cerulean Blue Chromium, Hansa yellow Med, Phthalo Green BS, Perm Alizarin Crimson, and Quin Gold. The oranges were created by mixing Alizarin Crimson with the Hansa Yellow Medium and Quin Gold.

I used a Princeton Long round size 6, because I can get long sweeps of color with the side of the brush, and yet paint very small detail with the tip.

To finish, I used a Uniball Signo Broad White gel pen to emphasize the whiskers, add a few highlights and a gleam to the sand. I used a scribbly line for this to add a little texture to the sand. In places, I smeared the white pen as soon as I scribbled so that the gleam would be more subtle.

You can buy Hahnemühle Rough Watercolor Postcards at these places:

You can buy Zebra Zensation Technical Pens here.

You can buy the Princeton Velvetouch mixed media brushes 6 long round here.

You can buy a Uniball Signo Broad White gel pen here.

You can buy Daniel Smith watercolor half-pans here. Pigments can also be bought separately in tubes.

Daniel Smith Ultimate Mixing Half Pan set

Bulldog from Pencil to Painting

Doodlewash Prompt #Trains A good owner ‘trains’ his dog to be sedate and not make messes.

I thought I’d post the pencil and pen stages of my artwork and see if anyone is interested. Can’t promise to remember to do this everyday – when I get in the zone, it is hard to stop for photos or scans.

This bulldog was painted on a Hahnemühle Rough watercolor postcard. I like the linen-like texture. It’s smooth enough to draw on but gives the finished work an extra oomph.

This bulldog is a fairly complex subject, especially around the face, so I pulled out my lightbox and the grid postcards that I keep on hand. I drew several of these so I wouldn’t have to draw the grid on my actual painting and I’d have several grid sizes available whenever I want them.

My reference photo was online (see photo credit below the finished postcard) so I called up the Art Tutor grid tool that allows you to upload a photo and overlay it with a grid. You can also crop and change the saturation.

I chose the grid card closest to the grid size that I overlayed online and pencil in the dog. I’m mainly looking to fit the dog on my postcard and to get the details of that wonderful face blocked in.

Most of my work is done during the drawing stage. I used a .5 Zebra Zensations Technical Pen because the dog is mostly white, so I’ll want my lines to show for the most part.

I draw the outline, details I want to show, and establish my values (darkest to lightest areas). I keep in mind how I’m going to color this and leave areas, such as the nose, lighter than I intend it to be so that I can darken it with color.

Adapted from a photo by danielsfotowel on Pixabay.

I used Daniel Smith half-pans for painting:

  • Lavender, Moonglow  & Phthalo Blue to shade the whites 
  • Transparent Red Oxide for the reddish portion of the face.
  • Monte Amiata, Moonglow, Shadow Violet for the mud, both on the ground and on the dog.  Splatter was done with these colors. 

My brush was a Princeton Artist Brush Elite Synthetic Kolinsky 4850 Round 6.

You can buy Hahnemühle Rough Watercolor Postcards at these places:

You can buy Zebra Zensation Technical Pens here.

You can buy Daniel Smith watercolor half-pans here. Pigments can also be bought separately in tubes.

Daniel Smith Colors of Inspiration 1

Daniel Smith Floral set

Daniel Smith Sketcher set

Hummingbird Fun & Easy Step-out with Video

The Friday Fun & Easy Landscape Challenge July 13- June 19: Draw a landscape using the Hummingbird step-out.  Extra calorie-free brownie points for creating your own variation of the hummingbird.

I have 100 step-outs that I’ve done before I started doing videos, so I’m going to back and do some on video, rather than coming up with a new step-out each week.  I have a fondness for this step-out, not least because I did some artwork using Zebra Pen Mechanical Colored Pencils.

They liked it well enough that they put it on a huge banner to use at the MacPherson’s Dealer Workshop.  I have to admit – it gives me a huge thrill when I see something like this!

So watch the video, and let’s draw some hummingbirds!
Tools used in the video: Hahnemühle Hand Lettering Pad, Zebra Pen PM-701 Permanent Marker
Original Step-out
Example colored with Zebra Pen Zensations Mechanical Colored Pencils
in a Grumbacher Mixed Media Wrap-around
Want to share your Fun & Landscapes?
Join the Fun & Easy Landscape Facebook Group here

Devil’s Lettuce Fun & Easy Step-out

The Friday Fun & Easy Landscape Challenge 3/23 -4/6: Draw a landscape using the Devil’s Lettuce step-out.  Extra calorie-free brownie points for adding a Bell 3 plant.

Devil’s Lettuce is a plant also known as Checker’s Fiddleneck, and seems to be the desert version of the fiddleneck fern.  I thought it was an interesting plant with its tiny blossoms growing all along its stem and the clusters of buds and blossoms at the end of its curly neck.

As always – make this your own.  Play with the sizes and shapes of the flowers and the curls and the clusters. Let your unique flag fly!

This example was done with Zebra Pen Zensations Brush pens and Mechanical Colored Pencils in a Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook. This was my first colored pencil in this book, and I love the way the colors are so bright!

                            Want to share your Fun & Landscapes? 

Join the Fun & Easy Landscape Facebook Group here!

Friday Fun & Easy Hedgehog & Echidna

The Friday Fun & Easy Landscape Challenge 3/2 -3/8: Draw a landscape using either the Hedgehog or Echidna step-out or both.  Extra calorie-free brownie points for use basic shape plants and scribble texture.

I was working on a Hedgehog step-out and earlier this week I drew an Echidna for my hubby’s lunch bag, and I thought how similar the two were.  And then I had the thought – it’s almost Easter, and Echidna’s lay eggs! One of only two mammals in the entire world that lay eggs.

So if you’re trying to think up ways to change up those boring old Easter cards, how about you have an Echidna bring your Easter basket? It actually makes more sense than rabbits, lol.

My Hedgehogs and Echidna don’t have feet or ears.  Well, they do, but they keep them tucked in unless they are using them.

Let your unique flag fly! Every plant and animal in the world is unique and so are you – so your drawings should be too.  Don’t try to make your hedgehog or echidna look exactly like mine.  Experiment with the length and width of the spines.  Change the eye and nose.  HAVE FUN!

Fun & Easy Landscape Step-out drawn with

In my Fun & Easy world, Hedgehogs and Echidnas come in bright colors.  They like to play a game where teams climb on top of each other to form towers. Echidnas are always on the bottom because their long nose provides more stability (people don’t realize that about the Echidna nose, lol).  The team that builds the tallest tower wins.  I think the team in front is in trouble!
Want to share your Fun & Landscapes or find prompts and challenges? Join the Fun & Easy Landscape Facebook Group here!

Heartbeast Fun & Easy Challenge

Last week, I posted a step-wisely showing several plants and animals that you could create using heart shapes.  This week I’m giving you the step-out for the Heartbeast that was included.  I know lots of you have already figured out how to draw this (which thrills me no end!).  I’d hoped to have a second step-out, but I got behind and didn’t even get my example drawing done.

This week will be a continuation of last week’s Friday Fun & Easy Challenge. Draw a landscape that includes the Heartbeast or of the other heart creations from the Heartland step-wisely.  Calorie-free brownie points for a heart-shaped plant or animal of your own!

Want to share your Fun & Landscapes or find prompts and challenges? Join the Fun & Easy Landscape Facebook Group here!

Desert Pea Friday Fun & Easy Challenge

The Friday Fun & Easy Challenge for 1/12/18 – 1/18/18 is to draw a landscape using the Desert Pea step-out.  Calorie-free brownie points for also using a road or path in it. You might want to see my Three Roads step-wisely for ideas.

Today’s Fun & Easy Landscape plant was inspired by the Australian Sturt’s Desert Pea.  Note the word ‘inspired’.  You are creating your own fantasy world so feel free to add whatever embellishments or changes you wish.

Don’t worry about getting the shapes exact or placing them exactly where I did.  Look at my example and see that I adding more seed pods, making some circles and giving more flourish to the petals. I tried to keep my steps as simple as possible so even a beginner has a place to start.  But my step-outs are always nothing more than a beginning for you to build on!

Example drawn with a Zebra Pen Sarasa Fineliner and colored with


Want to share your Fun & Landscapes or find prompts and challenges? Join the Fun & Easy Landscape Facebook Group here!