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Wet in Wet Watercolor Tutorial: Bison in Snow

Step By Step Watercolor Tutorial of a Bison in the Snow

Here’s a quick speedpaint video showing a wet-in-wet watercolor technique.


  • Reference photo
  • Graphite paper
  • Plain printer paper
  • Watercolor paper  (6x9in 140 lb, cold pressed, ideally blocked)
  • Watercolor brush (size 7)
  • Pencil (no 2)
  • Eraser


  • Quinacridone Gold
  • Neutral Tint
  • Indian Yellow
  • Sap Green

A wet-into-wet technique to softly blend tones of fur of a bison in the snow. I enjoy making homemade watercolor greeting cards.  It’s especially fun to make cards for my family members for birthdays. One of my brothers loves the cold and snow. So a bison (aka buffalo) in winter seemed like a good image to share with him.

For a reference image I love this photo of a bison by Photo by Lloyd Blunk on Unsplash.

Here’s how you can make a similar watercolor buffalo of your own.

Wet-In-Wet Watercolor Bison Greeting Card

Steps 1-3: Set Up Your Image, Paper and Watercolor Paint

Step 1: Trace your reference image. One way is to use a laptop screen with the brightness all the way up. Place a plain piece of paper over the image and gently trace with a pencil.

Step 2: Transfer the image to watercolor paper. Graphite paper placed between your tracing and the watercolor paper works well.

Step 3: In a watercolor pan, mix a pool of Neutral Tint and another pool of Quinacridone Gold.  To make the Neutral Tint pool more interesting, mix in a little of the Quinacridone Gold.

Steps 4-8: Start Painting the Bison

Step 4:  Paint the eye.  Use a strong mixture of Indian Yellow to paint eye on dry paper.

Step 5: Paint the horns.  Wet the area inside the horns. Apply black to the tip, then Quinacridone Gold to the outer edges.  Allow to dry.

Step 6: Prepare the body area for a wet-on-wet technique.  It might help to view this lovely wet-on-wet wet-on-wet tutorial by Mr. Otter Art Studio

Step 7: Paint the body. Generously wet the area of your drawing with clean water, taking care to place water up to the edge of your pencil line, but not past it.

Drop black paint into the head area of the bison.  Leave a little white paper between the different shapes to help define the head, chest and legs.  Wherever you want to suggest or a highlight on the bison, apply more watered down paint there, or avoid it altogether

Drop Quinacridone Gold into the body area. Let the colors pool together

If paint flows where you don’t want it, blot with a paper towel.

Step 8: Add detail to the face.  Allow the paint to dry. Then add details especially to the horns and nostrils.  I admit I did not get the results I wanted around the mouth area in my first attempt. So it is a little less defined there than I wanted.

Step 9-10: Finish with a background and shadows

Step 9:  Add a background. Wet a horizon line with clean water. Make a light mixture of  sap green and drop in a few spots of color to suggest a distant background

Step 10: Add shadow under the main body of the bison.  With clean water, wet a small area under the bison’s body.  Drop in a dilute mixture of black. Tilt the paper as needed so more pigment settles nearer the body and dissipates away.

Did you try this step by step watercolor tutorial?

Share your watercolor with me!  I’d love to see what you painted – #stabletableandcrafts.

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