How To: Create an Abstract Watercolour Bird with Illustrator Veronica Ballart Lilja

How To: Create an Abstract Watercolour Bird with Illustrator Veronica Ballart Lilja

Posted by Cass Art on 1st Jan 2019

When it comes to watercolour, combining different techniques can feel a little daunting. Using just a few colours and brushes, learn how to create a quirky bird illustration with artist Veronica Ballart Lilja’s easy to follow step-by-step guide.  

What you need:

A set of watercolour brushes

A set of watercolours

A watercolour sponge

Watercolour paper 

Step 1

Using a wet brush, create a rough circle on the paper for the bird’s body. This defines an invisible barrier for the watercolour to bleed to and helps to control the application of colour. Let this dry for a minute or two before moving on to step 2


Step 2

With a big brush, drop some watercolours on to the moistened area and let the colours bleed. Add the colour slowly to see how it develops over time, taking into consideration the placement of darker colours over brighter, bold tones. Lift the paper and gently move it to manipulate the colour further.

Step 3

Soak up the excess water with a sponge and add more colour and water as necessary to mix the colour into a nice shape. You can lift and apply colour with the sponge repeatedly until your desired colour has been achieved.

Step 4

Use a brush to add some black to the watercolour to make the shape of the bird more distinct.

Step 5

Wait until the paint is dry, then take a thin brush and paint in the beak and feet using a vibrant colour. Use orange as a bold, complimentary colour to the blue and apply using small, neat strokes. Y

Step 6

Paint in the tail feathers using a medium sized brush. You can also add some texture with a comb, toothbrush or by blowing pools of paint through a straw to achieve different styles.

Step 7

Let it dry completely – this is important when applying white or lighter colours, as the darker pigments will bleed through otherwise. Then paint some small white dots onto the bird for texture and give the bird an eye with a larger white dot. Again, let this dry so the paint doesn’t bleed, then add a tiny black dot on top to complete the eye.

And your abstract bird is complete!

Thank you for your insightful How-To demonstration Veronica!