How to Paint a Watercolor Whale in 7 Easy Steps

Watch my video first as it will show you step by step how to paint whales with watercolor in much more detail.

That said I’ve broken things down below as well.

Free Tutorial: Learn How to Paint Whales With Watercolor


The first thing I want to say – before I even get into this tutorial – is you need to approach this painting as an experiment of you learning how watercolor works and most importantly how to tame it’s stubborn wild side. 

With that being said – remember that your painting is absolutely going to look different from mine – especially since we are working wet in wet.  I’ve already painted this painting twice and both times while the have aspects that are similar they are still very different from one another. 

now that we got that out of the way – here are the supplies I will be using to paint our whale…

Supplies List…

  1.  watercolor paper (I will be using Canson XL student grade paper)
  2.  masking tape
  3.  board to stretch the paper
  4.  2 containers of water (one dirty – one clean)
  5.  salt
  6.  salt/water mixture
  7.  pipettes
  8.  white Copic Ink
  9.  PH MARTINS RADIANT  – Turquoise Blue and Norway Blue (feel free to use any colors – these just look great on film)
  10.  Winsor and Newton – Burnt Sienna
  11.  creepy cloth
  12.  Sakura Micron Indian Ink 005 pens
  13.  heat gun (or blow dryer)
  14.  paper towels or wash cloth
  15.  q-tips
  16.  watercolor palette with wells


For me – stretch my paper is nothing really complicated.   I simply take a large drawing board that I picked up from my local craft store and lay my paper flat again the surface.   Then with cheap basic masking tape – I tape all the side down until the paper is snuggly secured to the board.   

STEP two: Prep Your Ingredients

Similar to cooking – it’s always best to prep your ingredients or in our case our supplies – before we even begin painting.   For this illustration – you will need to prep _________ things

  1. Easy accessibility – first you will need to have all your supplies readily available and easily within reach. 
  2. prep your paints – Next, if you are using paints from a palette – go ahead and wet those with a spray bottle or some other tool to awaken them from their crusty state. 
  3. SALT MIXTURE – THIRDLY – and this one is key to this illustration – mix up a salt water mixture of about one table spoon to a cup of water.   You want to mix these two up until you can’t see the grains of salt anymore – basically making a salty ocean water mixture for our whale.  I’ll explain more one why this is important later.   
  4. cut up little sections of your creepy cloth – Lastly – cut tiny sections (10cm by 10 cm squares) and place them in a small bowl near you.   


STEP three:  One Layer of Salt Water

now that we are all prepped for our illustration – let’s go ahead and begin.  the first simple step we will be doing is coating our entire whale in a salt/water mixture.   Your layer should be somewhat dome like – not to thin but not to large that you paint will overflow the borders. 

WHY USE SALT WATER? The reason we are using salt water instead of plain water for this part is because when we add our paint to the paper – because of the salt – our paint will slightly float – allowing us some extra time to play around with and move the color as we will.   

Once you have coated your entire inside of your whale with water – making sure to get all of your intricate edges – it is now time to add paint.

STEP four:  Add Paint Droplets

With a dropper – either the bottle caps from PH Martin’s line or a pipette with ink consistency watercolor paint – drop 5 to 7 droplets of paint at different locations on your whale.   

for me – I placed 3 drops of Turquoise blue place here and then added 2 drops of Norway blue. 


finally step number five – is you harnessing the power of water.   Here is where our illustrations are going to look different – simply because we are painting wet in wet.   But no worries my friend – you have more control than you think when it comes to watercolor.   And here are some ways to harness it’s power.

  1. move the paint – first with a wet brush – push the drops of paint toward each other allowing them to mingle – but not mix entirely.  In this step you are not just harness watercolors control – but also your own.   It’s actually better the less you touch the paint than overworking the colors.  So keep this in mind. 
  2. ADDING SUBTLE HUES – Next, using your burnt sienna – which mixing beautifully with turquoise – place small dabs of paint on the tail, under belly, on the edge of the flipper and any other regions where you desire a shadowy texture.  once again make sure not to over work the paint.  Simply dab it down on the paper and move on – letting it do it’s thang. 
  3. TOO MUCH WATER – now at this point – you might notice your paper starting to buckle a bit – since we are using so much water.  No worries – there are two ways to address this issue.   1) Sprinkle some salt to different regions where your water is beginning to pool.   2) Solution number 2 – add a small section of creepy cloth to areas with ALOT of water.   The cloth string will absorb the excess water and create really neat veiny textures that in my opinion look like glistening light beams on the whales skin.  3) finally – you can use a paper towel or a q-tip to suck up any smaller pools that are unwanted in your illustration.  The goal here isn’t to soak up all the paper form your paper – but choose wisely which areas you may want an extra amount of texture and less water to create it. 

how to paint watercolor whales

STEP six:  adding ink

this is by far my favorite step – if you re working quickly and your paper is still wet – add white ink to the top portions of your whale and locations where you might find a bright highlight – such as the top of the tail or front flipper.  Now I causation you – don’t use the ink on the creepy cloth – because it will cement it down onto your paper.  However, any other area is free game.   I absolutely love adding ink to this illustration because it almost looks like foamy waves crashing over the whale.   

However, if your paper is too dry and you find your ink just glowing on the paper.  No worries – simply hit it with a wet brush and watch the ink spread out like magic.   

watercolor misfit - watercolor whale

STEP seven:  dry it out – ink it up

I bet you can hardly believe but we are nearly done now.  After you are happy with how your ink and paint is setting up (oh and always remember you can add more paint or ink if need be) – then go ahead and dry out your whale entirely with a blow dryer or heat gun.   

After it’s dry – simply trace over your pencil lines with a micron pen and that’s it – you are done!  Simply and easy watercolor wet in wet illustration to now show off to your friends. 

And that my friend is how to paint whales with watercolor :)  I hope you enjoyed this watercolor whale tutorial.

Now go off and hang your cute whale painting on your wall or share it with your friends.

Once again – make sure to like this video, subscribe if you haven’t joined the Misfit Clan yet, and smash that Bell button to be notified as soon as I upload new content. 

how to paint whales with watercolor

As always ya’ll it’s been a pleasure and I will see you next time.

About Author

Hi there! My name is Carrie and I'm a Watercolor Misfit! What's a Watercolor Misfit? Well, anyone who is willing to try new things and not afraid to get their hands covered in paint! So what do you say, are you a Misfit-ian?


  • Carol Keeney
    January 3, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    I’m intrigued. Please send me all uour utube videos. Love it.

    • Misfit
      January 5, 2018 at 9:02 pm


  • Aubrey
    February 21, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    I did it!!

  • Cindy
    February 28, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    LOVE! This is going to be my project tonight!

  • Julia
    March 28, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Just finished! Loved the instructions, and had a blast! Thank you!

  • Pam walker
    April 26, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    Can you help me locate the whale sketch

    • Misfit
      May 1, 2018 at 7:06 pm

      hi Pam, you can find it at the Etsy template shop –

  • Claire Randall
    May 26, 2019 at 8:36 am

    I did it :) he is sitting on my fridge he looks great, thanks it was a lot of fun. Very first thing I have painted.


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