How To Paint The Happy Snowman
( printable pdf – The Happy Snowman by Deb Watson)
The Happy Snowman
by Deb Watson
- Paint: Cobalt Blue and/or Cerulean Blue, Permanent Rose (or any bright red), Gamboge Yellow (or any bright yellow),white gouache or acrylic paint
- Paper: I used 140 lb. Arches cold pressed paper – any good paper will do
- Brushes: ¾” oval Silver Black Velvet wash brush (or any large round that holds a lot of water and has a good point), a size 6 round brush for smaller areas and detail, an old toothbrush for flipping white paint for snow
- Wax free graphite paper if you want to trace the outline onto your watercolor paper
- Misting spray bottle
- An outline page is included at the end of the pdf version of these instructions. Download and print out the outline page.
Step One – Draw or Outline your subject
(You can download the snowman outline from the pdf link at the top.) To trace – use graphite paper to transfer the outline of the snowman to your watercolor paper or draw it on. To transfer, I tape the top of the watercolor paper and photo to a back board, slide the graphite paper between the photo and watercolor paper, and go over the outline on the photo. If you draw the snowman, be sure to put the curvy folds of the scarf in.
Step Two – Paint the background
The background needs to be fairly dark blue (good color saturation) so that the white snowman shows up. To keep from diluting my color too much, I paint the background on dry paper, working quickly. Use your big brush for this large area. Start painting with light blue(more watery mix) at the top to darker blue (more paint and less water) at the bottom, leaving the ground and snowman white. If the color doesn’t blend smoothly, spray it lightly with a misting bottle to give it a little more water. Paint right over the (branch) arms. Let this dry completely.
Step Three – Paint the snow shadows
Shadows on a round object should be fairly light in value and have soft edges. That is easiest to create if you work wet on wet. Mix the shadow color by mixing an orange with your red and yellow, then mixing orange with blue to make gray. Use your smaller brush for this. Wet the snowman with water and paint light grey shadows on the left side of the snowman to give it form, wet on wet. The shadows should seem darker than you want while they’re wet because they’ll dry lighter. Once the shadows on the snowman are dry, switch back to your big brush. Paint a light gray shadow over the snow behind the snowman to underneath the snow in front of the snowman., then add water to let the very front to stay fairly white (graded wash.) Let this dry completely.
Step Four – Paint the details
Paint the scarf, hat, and snowman details, using your small brush. I made the hat red and the scarf with stripes of different colors, leaving white stripes in the mix. Paint the branch arms a dark brown or dark grey.
Step Five – Make It Snow
Use your small brush and any white paint (watercolor, gouache or acrylic) to add some snow on top of the hat and on the branch arms. Using an old tooth brush, wet it in clear water and wipe it off till it’s just damp. Then dip the end of the damp brush in the white paint. Flip snow on your painting by pulling your thumb over the bristles from front to back. To make flipped snow show up on white areas, use a light gray mix. Make this by mixing your white with a bit of your blue or gray mixture to make very light gray snow and flip that on the white areas.
What Did You Learn?
- Using a saturated color behind white makes the white stand out and is a very attractive combination in any painting.
- You can get soft, light color effects by painting on wet paper – wet on wet.
- Using a big brush for big areas and a small brush for small areas makes painting easier and gives you better results.