How to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

This week on our Youtube channel I posted another brand new watercolour tutorial – How to Paint Loose Watercolour Ducks and Ducklings. This is a loose watercolour painting of a little family of Mallard ducks as I love their patterns. To watch the tutorial please visit

We upload tutorials twice a week on Youtube so why not watch the videos and paint along with me?

Painting Animals

When painting animals I like to start off by practising the shapes and main features on scrap paper using a pencil as it helps to guide me throughout and this is no different for this duck painting. Think of it as a reference point.

Painting animals may sometimes seem daunting but practice makes perfect and don’t be put off if they aren’t perfect the first time round. My top tip is to start with diluted paint as you can easily add to it and layer up the colours and details.

How to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

How to Paint Loose Watercolour

I absolutely love painting in a loose watercolour style and for this family of ducks, I have chosen this technique as it helps to show off their beautiful patterns.

As long as you don’t waterlog your page you can build up your watercolour very easily by using loose brushstrokes and different colours. If you look at any images of the Mallard duck you will notice the male and female are different colours and in order to obtain this effect, the loose watercolour technique works best.

Don’t be afraid to keep mixing colours until you find the perfect combination and remember no two ducks are identical so they don’t need to be perfect.

How to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

Adding details to your watercolour ducks and ducklings

As always when your first layers are dried it’s time to add your finishing touches. For these lovely ducks, we need to add a splash of bright blue colour, I love to use French Ultramarine Blue which gives the ducks a stunning stripe.

Using a small brush I also paint in the eyes, beak and smaller details using black to make them really pop! I don’t like to use a huge amount of detail and I also like to practice small details such as eyes before I paint them onto the actual paper.

Let me know how you found this tutorial – How to Paint Loose Watercolour Ducks and Ducklings. I’d love to see your take on this cute family, did you give it a go? Do you have any questions?

You can comment on our youtube video – or follow us on Instagram – @dewintonpaperco.

The materials used in this tutorial were:

Paint: Winsor and Newton Artist Quality – ​

Pro Arte Masterstroke series 60 size 4/0, 2, 6 – ​

Paper Daler Rowney Aquafine cold-pressed paper – ​

You will also need some kitchen roll.

Thanks for taking the time to read about our tutorial this week and until next time, happy painting! 🦆

Last summer we were in Prince Edward Island in the very picture perfect area of Annandale. We rented an old farmhouse that was situated on a old farm. On the property were many sun bleached barns. While exploring the property, we came across the back of a barn with a number of Ducks Unlimited nesting boxes hanging in a row. Hence Ducks in a Row!

I knew immediately there was a painting in that series of photos. Most likely a poured watercolour!

Trickier than I expected

I had fun drawing this one as it had no perfectly straight lines. Sounds pretty easy – right? With poured paintings you essentially draw and then redraw the image over and over while applying masking compound. I literally used two thirds of a brand new bottle on this. So much masking required. With a couple of the pours I failed to deepen the intensity of the colour enough, effectively making some of my effort not detectable.


I literally spent hours each day redrawing much of the surface as I applied the masking. to pretty much the whole painting. Five pour applications later I had to step back and make a decision. I had no appetite to apply the last layer of mask in preparation for final deepest pour. Anticipating that it would take literally hours and I would still have to go in and colour balance the painting with brushwork. I did the unthinkable and grabbed my rummer cement lifter and took all the gook off.

At the end of the day it was the right decision. Artistic licence and all. And I am something of a rule breaker. Sharing one of my favourite quotes. Appropriate in this situation.

Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly by Dali Lama

I always say there are no rules, you need to follow your instincts to create what you your work, your way!

Slideshow of some of the steps below – I stopped taking photos part way through but it will give yo.u the idea

Sand and salt under my feet, moon over my head. I am an artist living in Florida. Works available at

How to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

How lucky we are to have such generous neighbors who share the bounty of their gardens with us! The other morning, a simple chat over a wooden fence with my neighbor in the morning while I was out walking my dog resulted in my coming home with a large bag of fruit. The tangerines had fallen from the trees due to the heavy winds from a recent storm. Would I like some? But of course! The star fruit need a little more ripening. “Just put them in a bowl and let them sit a while on the counter. They will be ready when they’re more of a yellow color. The yellower, the better.” They’re still ripening.

My painting is a little off kilter. The coffee mug is a little crooked – but I like when there’s a slight shift of perspective in a painting that is not meant to be photorealistic but rather more impressionistic and stylistic. I drew and painted it in two nightly sessions.

How to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

Cynthia Maniglia

watercolor sketch book

Today was a beautiful day to paint en plein air at the beach …

How to paint ducks in a row in watercolorHow to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

Used my Florida Field Guide as a reference for this painting. Watercolor, marker, and gesso.

How to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

Just something I painted before work this morning. Watercolor and chalk paint.

How to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

Here are some fashion figures wearing my “creations.
Watercolor, marker, and chalk paint.

How to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

I decided to frame the first teacup I drew/painted to give to my friend as a hostess gift for her upcoming tea party. In the meantime, I created a little pattern using some of these teacups.

I call this, “My Other Tea Set is Royal Doulton, Darling”

I can’t wait to see how my friend likes the framed teacup gift. I found a cute, silver spoon with blue enamel that echoes the drawing/painting I created, so I bought it as a gift topper. Looking forward to sipping tea and eating dainty sandwiches at the tea party.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look!

How to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

We’re poised for a tropical storm that’s brewing. Raining in Bradenton, FL. Glass dip pen with QoR watercolor and Yellow Ochre India Ink. This is in my Bee Paper Aquabee sketchbook which is for use with wet and dry media. The paper is heavyweight, neutral pH/archival quality, 93 lb., classic natural white. I had fun using watercolor with my dip pen to draw the fine lines you see in violet. It was an experiment applying the watercolor with the pen, and I can see now how using the dip pen could assist in watercolor painting for fine details. I read that I can also use coffee and tea with my dip pen! Must try that sometime, too.

How to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

“Three’s a Crowd” | Watercolor | Cynthia Maniglia | Sand Salt Moon

I had a little time to paint tonight, so I did this. I call it “Three’s a Crowd.” It’s based on a photo I took of our neighbor’s ducks in the little pond that’s down our driveway on the way to the mailbox. In the photo, there were four ducks. But I only painted three. I used the photo mainly for the shapes of the ducks and their reflections in the water. I am pretty pleased with how my little painting turned out for several reasons, one of which is the variation of brush strokes which helps keep the eye moving around the painting and the composition interesting and lively.

Another aspect of this piece I enjoyed creating is the achieved a variation of textures using several different brushes and tools. (Remembering how many times have I tried to paint something when I started out with just one brush.) This time, I even used a sponge and scraped the paint in the background where the edge of the pond meets the vegetation using the tip of my handy dandy glass dip pen. Feeling satisfied, mission accomplished today, and happy to say I have my ducks all in a row.

De Soto National Park

How to paint ducks in a row in watercolor

Bradenton, Florida. I was there this week and this tree by the water caught my eye. I was attracted to the water which had an orange tinge to it, and how the tree framed the view. Watercolor with a round brush and Bombay ink applied with a glass dip pen. I also used a sponge to apply the shadows and texturize the sand in the foreground.

I took lots of photos of things I wanted to paint.

When I paint from photos in the studio, I look at them on my computer or mobile phone and more often than not, simply keep looking back and forth between the paper and the screen, painting directly without doing a pencil sketch first. I find this method keeps my painting more lively, as if I were actually painting “en plein air.”

Step by step video instruction from drawing to finished painting!

This course is included in the Membership or may be Purchased as a Single Course using the Button Above

Looking to create a personal gift for a loved one? Maybe an original painting for a child’s room! In this course, you will learn how to create this realistic duckling in watercolor, using techniques that you can apply to your own paintings.

– Created using Arches Hot Press paper (but feel free to use Cold Press)

– Size: Approx. 5 x 7 inches – feel free to enlarge or reduce per your wishes.

Included in this Course:

  • Materials list, reference photo, and drawing
  • Successive video lessons of entire painting in real time
  • Step-by-step formula that you can apply to your own paintings
  • Mixing colors
  • Working with value – darks, lights, mid-tones
  • Adjusting errors and troubleshooting
  • Making final refinements
  • Narration by Rebecca Rhodes, along with captions that you can read

If you are not happy with the course, contact Rebecca Rhodes ([email protected]) within the first 30 days of purchase, and you will receive a full refund.

Courses are hosted on the School website and are not available for download. Videos are for streaming. A high-speed internet connection is recommended

Would you like to learn more about realistic watercolor painting? Visit the FREE TUTORIALS.

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We would love to see your finished painting!

  • Take a photo and share in the Community.
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Creating a detailed and realistic paintings does take time, but when you enjoy the process it’s inspiring and a lot of fun. Allow yourself the freedom to experiment and learn from your experiences, because that is how we grow.