How to paint a Moth for Beginners

For beginners

Materials used:

  • Oil pastels
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic paint
  • Flat brushes and small round brushes
  • Water to wash your brushes
  • Tissue paper to wipe your brushes

Trace your image onto your canvas

Optional

If you feel comfortable enough to draw, I highly encourage you to do this instead of tracing. But here is a tracing method which I find very handy. To trace your image onto your canvas, print out an image of a moth to the exact size you want to paint it.

Colour the back of the page

Colour the entire back of your printout with oil paste. The harder you press, the more clear your image will transfer onto your canvas. It is good to use a dark pastel, because this is more visible.

Transfer your image onto your canvas

Once you’re done colouring the back of the paper in, place the image facing up on the exact spot you want it to appear on your canvas. Use a pencil to draw over all the lines and details.

Your image should look something like this

Start painting your moth with the darkest colours

An easy way to start any painting is to add all the dark areas first. Try using a dry brush effect (no water and little paint) to paint your moth. This will make the moth look more “dusty”.

A great way of mixing dark brown, is to mix medium brown with a bit of ultramarine blue (the dark blue on my palette here). This makes your brown look much more alive than to mix black and brown for a dark brown.

Use short and straight brush strokes

Have a look at the direction of the brush strokes on the different wings. We paint it this way, because it is the same direction as the lines of the moth’s wing structure goes.

Add the medium tones

Next you need to focus on filling in the blank spaces on your moth. Try to avoid the white areas as much as possible. Here you’ll start adding orange, different browns and light grey.

Paint your background

Since your moth will be pretty textured when using the dry brush method, a good idea is to make your background as smooth as possible. This will make your moth pop out more.

If you want to achieve the affect shown here, make sure that you only paint small areas at a time. You would then use different kinds of greens and white paint. Once you’ve painted one small patch dark green, for instance, immediately paint another colour right next to it. In order to blend them, your first patch of paint must still be wet. Work some of your second colour of paint on the edge of the first patch, going slightly over the first colour, until it transitions evenly from one colour to another.

Paint details on your moth

You can now go back and add details to your moth. Add the antenna and some more black on the darkest areas of the moth. It is also in this step where you will start looking for the lightest areas in the moth. A couple of white brush strokes will make your moth stand out more.

Try this out

When painting the details on an area where there is wet paint, you cant always comfortably put your hand down on the canvas to paint. Try resting your hand on your pinky next to the wet paint, instead of trying to paint with your entire hand in the air. This helps to create cleaner lines since you’ll have way more control.

Add a floral design in a bright colour

I decided on red, since red is the complimentary colour of green, so it stands out much more. If you don’t like these colours, have a look at the colour wheel and pick two colours that are right opposite each other on the colour wheel.

Aaand you’re done!

Usually we don’t get much time to do creative things like this when we are in a full time job plus responsibilities at home.

I came across this opportunity a couple of months ago where you can learn how to start your own online business through the six figure mentor program. 

Imagine being able to do creative things like painting this moth in the middle of the week, instead of sitting at work and wishing for the weekend to come!

SFM also makes it possible for you to travel more! Since you have your own online business, you only need a laptop and a wifi connection to keep it running.

They provide you with step by step guidance on how to build a business based on something that you love and they have an amazing community that is super supportive as well.  I am one of their students and since I have been with them, my life has changed so drastically!

If you’re interested, you can sign up for free online workshops by clicking on the link below.

Send me Free Workshops

Jet Headed Gypsy – How to paint a moth – Top of Page

Simple Beach and Sunset Acrylic Painting for Beginners

This is an easy and fun exercise which can be completed within roughly three hours!

The reference used in Simple Beach and Sunset Acrylic Painting for Beginners can be found here.

Materials used:

  • Canvas 25x30cm
  • Various brushes of your choice – I prefer using flat brushes instead of round ones. I recommend using a different brush for each colour and then some large flat brushes for blending.
  • Acrylic paint, System 3 paints are quite nice to use and they’re affordable
  • A jar with water for cleaning the brushes – I usually don’t wash my brushes while painting, since the residual water on the brush thins the paint and makes blending a bit more tricky. Other people prefer using water though, so see what works for you.
  • Some tissue paper for drying the brushes.

Draw your horizon line and start painting the sky

Start off by deciding where your horizon line will be. It’s a good idea to never put the horizon line in the dead centre of the canvas, because this makes your painting look very static. You want the viewer’s eye to travel throughout your painting. I used yellow paint to do this, since yellow is easy to paint over.

Once you have this down, you can add some yellow horizontal brush strokes for the sun.

Make sure that not all your brush strokes are exactly the same length. Before this dries, immediately work in some pink. I used pink and white for this, alternating between white and pink every time I dip my brush into paint. With your pink paint, go over the tips of your yellow lines in order to blend the two colours a little bit.

Also paint the sides as you go along. If you choose to hang the painting without framing it, it will give it more of a finished look.

Add the purple

If you don’t have purple and you need to mix it, use pink and blue instead of red and blue to mix a vibrant purple.

The reason why pink works better is because the red pigment is quite pricy. So paint companies add other pigments into the red paint, such as orange, to make it more affordable for us. If we mix this affordable red paint with blue, it gives us a more darker purple.

Apply your purple paint as indicated in the picture here on the right hand side of the painting. You can then use pink and white paint to blend it into the pink sky. The way you do this is to paint and blend the pink paint on the very edges of the purple shape.

If you go all over the purple, your painting will end up looking muddy.

Paint the Sea

Paint lines with various colours as indicated here. Use a large flat brush to gently go over the lines you have painted to create a blended look. If you use horizontal strokes, your sea will look more calm. The more you make zig zag movements with your blending brush, the rougher the sea will look.

Colours I used was dark blue, light blue, white and purple.

For the area where the sun is reflecting on the water, I added white, orange, yellow and pink.

Add the sand

Use white and brown paint to create the sand. You can blend this out a bit more to create a smoother texture.

For the top area, the sand that is further away from you, use more white to make it appear lighter. This creates a sense of depth in your painting.

Useful tip: Objects that are further away are generally lighter. This is called aerial perspective.

Add the sea froth

Use a brush like the one here. Add a little bit of of paint to the brush and dab it all over the line where the sea and sand meet.

Add a thin shadow under the wave

Start by drawing a line right under the froth. You need to do this throughout the painting, but do small sections at a time so that the paint does not dry when you dry to blend it.

Blend the line for a softer look

Use a clean, dry brush for blending. Have a look here where the brush is positioned on the painting. You will only blend the very edge of the line to create a gradient. If you go over the entire line, it will just create a mess and not fade away from the sea froth. (I hope this makes sense).

Make the front of the sea look more shallow

In order to make the sea in the front look more shallow, make use of light blue paint. Your brush strokes are also important here. Where you previously painted everything in a horizontal direction, you are now going to paint the front area in a diagonal direction, slightly over the foam . So you will start from the bottom, where the foam is, and make your brush strokes upward leaning to the left.

Look at the direction in which the arrow goes here.

Add Greenery – Optional

Use different greens, blues and some white to create short brush strokes for the greenery.

When you get to the top of the plant, make sure you make your brush strokes with an upward swoop. This will make the end of the brush stroke look thinner and it will end up looking more like twigs.

Afterwards you can also add some flowers. You can achieve this by just adding some quick dots and short brush strokes.

Paint the clouds

Start off by adding a generous amount of paint in a line as indicated in the picture.

Remember to keep the lines rather short in order to avoid the paint drying on you before you get to blend it.

Blend the clouds

Now is the time to make those clouds look like candy floss! You can achieve this by blending in circles on the outer edges of the line. Take a look where my brush is positioned in the picture here.

Once you are done, you can repeat this step by adding another line of paint on top of the cloud and lightly blend this too.

The second layer will make the cloud appear more white.

Try not to overthink this part too much. Clouds are organic, so any shape will look fine. The most important part is that the edges of the cloud isn’t too harsh. You can fix this by just blending it more outward.

Aand you’re done!

I really hope enjoyed painting your sunset!

Usually we don’t get much time to do creative things like this when we are in a full time job plus responsibilities at home.

I came across this opportunity a couple of months ago where you can learn how to start your own online business through the six figure mentor program. 

Imagine being able to do creative things like painting this sunset in the middle of the week, instead of sitting at work and wishing for the weekend to come!

SFM also makes it possible for you to travel more! Since you have your own online business, you only need a laptop and a wifi connection to keep it running.

They provide you with step by step guidance on how to build a business based on something that you love and they have an amazing community that is super supportive as well.  I am one of their students and since I have been with them, my life has changed so drastically!

If you’re interested, you can sign up for free online workshops by clicking on the link below.

Send me Free Workshops

Jet Headed Gypsy – Simple Beach and Sunset Acrylic Painting for Beginners – Top of Page

Learning to draw Human Anatomy

For beginners

When starting out with figure drawing, knowing human anatomy is essential in order to fully understand the human form.

Before we get started, here are some general tips:

Don’t go into too much detail

When we think of human anatomy, our first instinct is to grab an anatomy book and start to intricately learn the names of each muscle as well as to make detailed drawings of each muscle and tendon.

Remember, the reason why we are looking into anatomy, is only to understand the figure. It is therefore unnecessary to learn everything in detail, since this will only cause you to become overwhelmed. Instead, focus on the volume each muscle adds to the body. In other words, focus on the 3D shape that the muscle will add to the body, instead of all the intricate lines and details of the muscle.

Start off by making a gesture drawing

If you’d like to know more on gesture drawings, have a look at the How to start a figure drawing tutorial.

Observe the Shape of the Muscles

Start off by blocking out all the dark areas. It helps to see these areas as shapes, instead of a shadow a muscle is casting. It ensures that you won’t be overwhelmed by all the shadows. Another thing that is very useful is to only focus on a small area at a time. If you feel like you are seeing too much information, use a blank piece of paper to block the other parts which you aren’t working on, out.

Remember to press as lightly as possible with your pencil. It will make the drawing appear less grainy. A good pencil to use for this is a 2B.

In the photo below, you’ll see that I am using a picture which I have printed from the internet. A better way to practice is to draw from life. The reason why is because if you work from a picture, most of the work your eyes are supposed to be doing have already been done for you, since the reference is already in 2D instead of 3D. Save drawing from pictures when you absolutely don’t have another option.

Use your blending stick

Use a blending stick (basically rolled up paper) to blend all the shading you did. One way to go about your shading, is what I have done below. I used the blending stick all over the figure, leaving no light spots white. In doing so, you smoothen the shadow areas edges, which make the shadows appear softer.

A lot of people use their fingers to smudge the pencil marks, but this is not a good idea, because our hands have oils on them and this transfers onto the paper. Eventually these oils will turn yellow on your paper.

If you do not have a blending stick, try making your own out of rolled paper. Here’s a video on how to make your own blending stick.

After using your blending stick as I have instructed, your drawing will appear super dull, but don’t worry about this, because you will fix this in the next step.

Emphasise light and dark areas

To add your light spots, you can make use of a regular eraser and a putty eraser. It also helps to keep a knife handy, since you can cut a piece of the eraser in order to make sure you have a sharp edge to work with for the smaller areas. You can use your regular eraser for the sharper light areas.

Lightly dab the putty eraser on the areas you want to gradually lighten. If you do not have a putty eraser, you can use glue tac instead.

For the darker areas you can start making use of your darker pencils, such as 6B,7B and 8B. Make sure you gradually work your way up. Again, remember not to press hard on the paper as you will damage the paper and this will be visible once the drawing is complete. Rather use a higher B pencil if you feel like you are not getting a dark enough shade.

Clean up your drawing

Use your eraser to remove the layer of graphite around your drawing. It also gives your drawing a nice finished look when you draw an outline around the figure with your eraser to ensure that the edges of the figure have clear lines.

As you can see, the skin in the final drawing does not appear as smooth as one would like for it to be. This is because I did not spend enough time on lightly shading the skin with my pencil. The longer you take with this step, the smoother your skin will appear. You can also go back and forth with your pencil and blending stick to create a smoother gradient.

Some more useful tips:

Don’t over emphasise the muscles and focus on diversity

Also take note that while it is important for your figure to be drawn with muscles, it is also important not to over emphasise the muscles to the point where it looks like all your figures have 8 hour weight lifting sessions and live off protein shakes.

The figure above was used to study the muscles in the body. It is for this reason that I chose to use a body building model as reference.

Humans come in different shapes and sizes and it is important to celebrate this in order to make your drawings more diverse.

Emotion, action and personality in figures are more important

Remember we are Learning to draw Human Anatomy to add realism to the figure. But there are other aspects that actually play a bigger part in creating a figure that is realistic and relatable. The most important aspect is being able to show emotion, action and personality in our figures.

We make use of human anatomy to show the action side of this though indicating where the weight of the body is or indicating the muscles that are activated within a certain action. For instance, making the muscles in one leg more prominent when a sprinter shoots from the starting line of a race.

If you get stuck and you’re not sure which muscles are activated during a certain action, ask a friend to perform this action for you a couple of times. It is helpful to take some pictures for when you sit down to draw, if you do choose to work from pictures instead of real life.

Materials recommended for this exercise:

Jet Headed Gypsy – Learning to draw Human Anatomy – Top of page

How to start a figure drawing

For Beginners

In order to start drawing realistic figures, we need to know about the proportions of the human figure. If you are not yet familiar with proportions, I highly recommend that you go through the Proportion for Figure Drawing tutorial first.

I would then also like to suggest that you make a quick drawing on proportions in your sketch book, so you can refer back to this when you need to remember something.

Drawing the skeleton

An easy way to start with a figure drawing when you are just starting out, is to start with drawing the skeleton. In doing so, you make sure that you have the proportions right before adding detail.

A good way to practice this is to keep an A5 sketch book with you and to do speed drawings (around 30 seconds per drawing) of people sitting or passing by when you’re at a coffee shop, waiting in line for something, etc. This will drastically improve your observational skills as well as to help you apply the correct proportions to your figures.

Use a pen or marker when doing this. It might be a bit more tricky than a pencil at first, but it will greatly boost your confidence in drawing. It teaches you to be more bold in your decision making.

Start by drawing the skeleton of the figure

Gesture drawing

Once you have drawn your skeleton, you can add more detail to the figure.

This is where you focus on the impression of the person and what their body language is saying. For example, a woman walking in the rain with an umbrella might have hunched shoulders with her arms close to her, whereas an angry man might have his chest pushed outward with his hand making a fist. These subtle details in your lines make a big difference in the story you tell with your drawings. Start by asking yourself what emotions you feel you are getting from the person you are drawing.

Useful tip: There is no line in the human body that is straight.

Gesture drawing

Once you know proportions well enough, you can go straight into gesture drawing, without drawing the skeleton first. This is important to do, since the technicality of the skeleton drawings can sometimes make a drawing appear very stiff and rigid.

Materials recommended for this project

Jet Headed Gypsy – How to start a figure drawing – Top of Page

Proportions for Figure Drawing

For Beginners

When we talk about proportion, we talk about the size relationships each body part has with another. Have you ever drawn a figure and it ends up looking…not quite right? Odds are that it’s the proportion that is a bit off.

But not to worry, this is something you can easily learn over time!

Proportion basics

As a rule, when drawing figures, we draw the body 8 heads tall. This simply means that we can fit a total number of 8 heads into the length of the body.

This idea was formed during the Renaissance times and was considered to be the ideal human form. Realistically, even in Northern Europe, where this idea was formulated, people are generally around 7 heads tall.

It will be helpful to draw as I walk you through the proportions in order to remember it more easily. This way you will also have your own chart to refer back to.

Create your chart in which you will draw the figure

Start off by drawing a line on the side of the page. Then number the sides from 1 – 8 with equal spaces between the numbers. Remember to leave an equal space above number one, as this is where your head will go.

Sketch pad with chart

Draw the Head and the Pelvis

The head will go right above the number 1 your drew on the chart, with the chin touching the line. The size of your head will be the same as the distance between the numbers. The pelvis goes in between number 3 and 4.

Make sure the oval drawn for the pelvis fills out the entire area between lines 3 and 4

Draw the Legs, Knees and Feet

Start off by drawing two circles on line 4. These are the hip joints. Do the same on line 6 for your knees and also on line 8, for the bottom of your feet.

When drawing the legs, it is important not to draw straight vertical lines from the hip joint to the bottom of the foot. In order to make your figure look more natural, connect your line from the inside of the hip joint to the inside of the circle of the knee cap. The calf will be connected from the outside of the knee to the inside of the foot.

Draw the legs, knees and feet
Do not draw a straight line from the hip joints to the feet. It will look too stiff and rigid.

Draw the torso, nipples and belly button

The torso will start between lines 1 and 2 and end on the line of number 3. As shown here, it is best to draw the torso slightly smaller at the bottom, to show the rib cage. The smaller part of the torso is subject to change, depending on the person’s body type. You can draw the width of your torso as roughly the same width as the pelvis. Draw the nipples on line 2 and the belly button on line 3.

Learning proportion for realistic figure drawing
The straight stipple lines indicated on the legs is what you should not do when drawing the legs.

Draw the Shoulders, elbows and wrists

The shoulders are located half way between line 1 and 2. The shoulders are generally the same width as two heads put next to each other. Create a line that is slightly curving down on the edges for the shoulders.

The elbows will be on line 3 and the wrists on line 4.

Draw the Arms and Hands

You can now draw the upper and lower arms. Assuming that the hand is completely open, draw the hand with the finger tips touching line 5. While this looks kind of strange, you can test this out by seeing where your wrist and finger tips are in proportion to your legs and hips.

It’s funny to think that our hands stop in the middle of our thigh!

This is a general guideline to the proportions of the human body. Please remember that all figures are different and that you need to take everyone’s individuality into consideration when drawing.

For instance, in the shoulders, if someone is heavily tense or has developed trapezius muscles, their shoulders will droop a lot less than a timid 12 year old girl’s.

Lets look at the figure in profile

Create your chart in which you will draw the figure

Start off by drawing a line on the side of the page. Then number the sides from 1 – 8 with equal spaces between the numbers. Remember to leave an equal space above number one, as this is where your head will go.

Sketch pad with chart

Draw your head, pelvis, knees and shoulders

Draw the head above line 1 and the pelvis in between lines 3 and 4. As a guideline, draw a line in the middle of the head, going straight down to the feet. Draw the knee on line 6 in alignment with your guideline. The shoulder will also be on this guideline in between mark 1 and 2.

Draw the spine and feet

When drawing the spine, make sure that the line curves outward where the shoulders are positioned (in between line 1 and 2). The spine then curves inward towards the belly button (on line 3) and again curves outward to meet the pelvis.

The feet will be positioned slightly behind your guideline. We draw it this way because this is how people are balanced and able to stand up right.

Draw the ribcage, hip joint and leg

Take note in the direction of the lines of the leg. Draw the upper part of the leg with a curve outward and connect it to the front of the knees. The bottom half of the leg connects from the back side of the knee cap to the feet.

At this point you are now also able to see the diagonal line that the hip joint, knee and foot creates.

Now that you are familiar with the general proportions of the figure, it is time to practice some gesture drawing by keeping human proportions in mind. You can learn more on gesture drawing here.

Materials used in this tutorial:

Jet Headed Gypsy – Learning proportion for realistic figure drawing -Top of Page