A Proliferation of Whiskers – Pencil to Paint Tutorial

Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen, QoR watercolor and White Signo Uniball gel pen on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard. Brushes: Princeton Elite Travel Round size 10.

Did you know that a walrus can eat 4,000 – 6,000 clams in one sitting?

Doodlewash prompt ‘walrus’.

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

Photo courtesy of skeeze on Pixabay 

What drew me to the reference photo was that wild stare and the whiskers, so I knew I wanted to focus on that. I also wanted to capture that splotchiness of color but I didn’t want it to compete with the focus on the stare/whiskers.

I first considered using a rough postcard, but decided it was the wrong kind of texture, and went with a cold-pressed postcard instead.


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

The shapes in this painting are simple so I free-handed it. Notice how the folds of the walrus’s body tend to echo each other. Vertically, the tusks, the separation of face and body, and eye and body all have a similar flow. The same thing with the top lip, the back of the head and the folds along the back.

This very sketchy pencil drawing was used to place detail and to make sure everything fit on the card. I didn’t bother with the whiskers. They’re too much fussy detail and too easy to place to bother with at this point.

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.


Although there is a lot of texture in the walrus’ skin, I decided to minimize that, making everything subordinate to the whiskers and eye (though the shapes are simple, this walrus could be painted in many different ways). At this step, I established my values*, drew the outline and spent a lot of time on the whiskers.

Values= dark to light. When you establish your values, you are deciding where the darkest areas are, and some of the important mid-tones.


I did a light wash of Quinacridone Magenta over the entire Walrus, and then I dabbed a light wash of Nickel Azo Yellow over the whisker and nose area, then Transparent Pyrrole Orange around the nose, the lip and the folds around the head and neck. By ‘dabbed’, I mean I bounced the brush up and down, sometimes using the tip and sometimes the side of the brush.

Using dabbing motions again, Dioxine Purple was splashed over most of the walrus. I dropped burnt sienna here and there in shaded areas. When the paint was dry, I did some dry brushing with a hint of the purple for texture.

Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue were mixed half & half for the darkest value under the eye and whiskers. I thinned it with more water and painted in the areas between the whiskers.

Using the side of my round brush, the ripples of water were done with Phthalo Blue GS and Sap Green was dropped in while the blue was still quite wet. With a dry brush, I picked up just a little of the color from the water and used it to shade the tusks.

Once that dried, I used a White Signo Uniball gel pen to highlight the top layer of whiskers, and added a few dots along the snout and around the eye.


And Where You Can Buy Them

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review).

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

QOR Watercolor Half Pan Set of 12 Ultimate Mixing Set   (review)

Princeton Aqua Elite Series 4850 Synthetic Kolinsky Sable Round, Size 10

White Uniball Signo Gel Pens


Numbat – Postcards for the Lunch Bag

Artwork-Zebra Zensations Technical Pen, QoR watercolor and White Signo Uniball gel pen on a Hahnemühle Cold Pressed Watercolor Postcard. Brushes: Princeton Elite Travel Round size 10.

Numbat – I know. It sounds like something you’d call your brother or sister when you were kids. It wouldn’t be much of an insult though. Numbats are termite-eating eating marsupials from Australia.

They ARE a bit oddball – unlike other ant-eating species, they don’t dig and don’t have those usual big, nasty claws. And they don’t have pouches like other marsupials. So if that’s what you meant when calling names, you were right on. It’s still not much of an insult, because Numbats are cute enough to get away with it.


And Where You Can Buy Them

Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review).

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

QOR Watercolor Half Pan Set of 12 Ultimate Mixing Set   (review)

Princeton Aqua Elite Series 4850 Synthetic Kolinsky Sable Round, Size 10

White Uniball Signo Gel Pens


REVIEW: ‘Tangle All Around the World’ by Alice Hendon

Last year, Alice Hendon invited the members of her ‘Tangle All Around’ Facebook group to submit tangle patterns for a book. Fifty contributors and 453 patterns later, Alice has published one of the largest collections of tangle pattern step-by-steps in the world.

To find out more, read my review of Alice Hendon’s ‘Tangle All Around the World’ at Doodlewash.

REVIEW: Miya Arts Solid Watercolor Palette

It’s cute! It’s practical! It’s under $20! This set includes 18 solid pan watercolors, a carrying case, a waterbrush and six sheets of bookmark sized paper. If you’ve been looking for a set to use on the go, for your sketchbooks, journals and coloring or just for practice …

… Check out my review of Miya Arts Solid Watercolor Palette at Doodlewash.

REVIEW – Hahnemühle Postcards

Postcards are a fantastic size for quick, relaxing artwork, and friend and family are thrilled to receive them. I paint or draw something on a postcard five days a week – to slip into my husband’s lunchbag each day.

I use postcards from Hahnemühle, so if you’ve followed my work for any length of time, you’ve seen them. Two new versions have been released so now I have four kinds to choose from – Nostalgie, Burgund, Cold-Pressed and Rough.

Why do I like these postcards, what’s the difference, and which ones do I choose each day for what reason?

Check out my review at Doodlewash.

Closed-Life Imitates Doodles Weekly Wednesday Giveaway #28

Open Internationally, except where prohibited by law and/or under unstable/strict policy conditions

All good things must come to an end. I’ll be continuing my Weekly Wednesday Giveaway through the last week of August, but the 28th will be the last one. Sorry to say, budgets are getting tight all around! I’ll still have the occasional giveaway, but they’ll only occur as I get goodies for them.

But for now:

To Enter: This Giveaway is OVER

Answer the question below, at the Life Imitates Doodles blog Giveaway post (answers on Facebook & Instagram don’t count as an entry.

We all lose things – sometimes they’re found and sometimes they aren’t. If you could recover one thing that you’ve lost in the past, what would it be?

One Winner will receive this Prize Package

  • one pkg Hahnemühle Bamboo Mixed Media sample sheets
  • one Zebra Sarasa Clip 1.0, 9 Shiny / Metallic Color Set 
  • one Denise Soden World Watercolor Month pouch – no longer available for purchase. You have to hope to win it!
  • just for grins – one tea bag with bookmark cat tag

Thank you to Hahnemühle_USA for the mixed media Bamboo sheets and to ZebraPenUS for the pack of Sarasa Clip Retractable Gel Pens.

This Giveaway Ends Monday, August 12, 2019 at 11:59 PM PDT.

Last week’s winner was:

Donald Wilka says: July 31, 2019 at 08:25

Not sure how a wish for the world would not benefit me as well. I guess my wish would be for everyone to have the discernment to realize they have the choice to decide how they respond to situations.

The winner has until Friday 11:59 PM PDT to send mailing information to the email list in the right sidebar. Please put ‘Weekly Wednesday Winner ‘ in the subject line so I’m sure to see your email.

There is a giveaway here each Wednesday. You don’t have to follow my blog to enter, but it will help you to remember to do it!

Want to buy some of this stuff RIGHT now?

Hahnemühle Bamboo Mixed Media pads

Zebra Sarasa Clip 1.0, 9 Shiny / Metallic Color Set 

Gongdreen Cat Hibiscus black tea 6 designs pack-in

Sorry, the Denise Soden World Watercolor Month pouch can no longer be purchased!

Golden Opportunity

Artwork: Zebra Pen Technical Pen and Finetec Watercolor in Sketching Stuff Activity book.

If you are looking for the Life Imitates Doodles Weekly Wednesday Giveaway #17 , you can find it here.

The prompt at Doodlewash today is Golden Opportunity. You may be thinking ‘Where’s the Gold?’

Well, this seemed like a golden opportunity for me to show you another of the exercises from Charlie O’Shields The Sketching Stuff Activity book and for me to try out the Finetec Transparent watercolor set that I got for my birthday.

The watercolors are a student grade. You get 24 colors for about $26 dollars. For the price, they are good. The colors are bright – I suspect a dye rather than actual watercolor pigment. It would be a great set for art journaling, or a beginner on a budget that wants something decent, but doesn’t expect professional results.

This exercise was in looking for detail. Charlie drew part of the bird, and your challenge is to add the important detail.

Once again, I drew the shapes in my Hahnemühle black book. In fact, I drew them twice to create two birds. You can’t practice finding shapes enough!

I think I added more detail than I needed too, but that’s okay. Finding them was the point of the exercise.

Coloring the page wasn’t part of the planned exercise, but it’s fun! This paper is NOT formatted for watercolor and I knew I was taking a chance, but I wanted to try out my new watercolors! I was very careful to use just enough water to make the colors spread and it worked fairly well.

The paper did wrinkle a bit and the paper is absorbent so it soaked up fast, limiting how far you can spread it. There was no bleed-through or show-through on the back.

I don’t actually recommend using watercolor on these pages unless you are good at controlling your water flow and making sure none of the colors are too dark (or you don’t mind having the color bleed through to the back of the page).

It was fun, though and I like the results.

You can find my review of the Sketching Stuff Activity book here.

Did you know that there is a Sketching Stuff Facebook Group for people to share their work from the book?

Wanna buy some of these cool toys?

The Sketching Stuff Activity book by Charlie O’Shields

Hahnemühle Black book – Rochester Art Supply FineArtStore

Zebra Zensations Technical pens (review)

Zebra Zensations Fineliner Pen 0.8mm Assorted 24Pk

Charlie O’Shields is the founder and admin of Facebook’s ‘World Watercolor Group’, World Watercolor Month, and the Doodlewash Community. For more then 1400 consecutive days, he’s delighted his readers by sharing his watercolor art and a rambling essay about life, his interests, and the importance of staying young at heart.