How to Paint an Eagle

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Things You'll Need

  • Stretched canvas,14-by-16 inches

  • Gesso

  • Old brush

  • Phthalo Blue

  • Titanium White

  • Palette

  • 1/2-inch flat brush

  • Pencil

  • Burnt Sienna

  • Nimbus Grey

  • Cadmium Yellow

  • No. 2 round brush

  • No. 2 rigger brush

  • No. 1 rigger brush

  • Burnt Umber

  • Raw Umber

  • Carbon Black

Study the different shades of brown and white on a bald eagle.

The "bald" in bald eagle is an old English word that means white. It has a white head and tail feathers with brown wings and body. Its body can be 3 feet long with a wingspan of 6 to 7 feet. Another American eagle is the golden eagle, which is a brown eagle with golden hues on its neck. Regardless of which eagle you decide to paint, study the different photographs of eagles for the different browns and whites that blend in the feathers of the birds.


Step 1

Prime a 14-by-16 inch stretched canvas with gesso made for acrylic paint. Using a wide old brush, start at the top of the canvas and work your way down. Let the gesso dry.

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Step 2

Put Phthalo Blue and Titanium White on a palette. Mix the blue and white and use a 1/2-inch flat brush to brush it over the canvas. Occasionally pick up some white, to brush lightly across canvas, to create a background of sky and soft white clouds for the eagle.

Step 3

Draw or trace an eagle on the canvas. Use a ½-inch flat brush to apply a coat of Burnt Sienna to the wings, body and feather part of the upper legs. Apply a mixture of Titanium White and Nimbus Grey to the head and tail feathers. Paint the beak and feet Cadmium Yellow with a Number 6 round brush.


Step 4

Use a No. 2 rigger brush (a rigger brush is thin and pointed) to create feathers in the white parts of the body. Use Titanium White over the Nimbus Black to create the feathers. Use the No. 1 rigger brush with Burnt Umber and Raw Umber to paint shadows in the brown area. Put shadows in the beak and feet with the No. 1 rigger brush and Burnt Sienna.


Step 5

Paint the eye. Use a Burnt Umber wash to shade the eye. Paint the eyeballs Carbon Black. Apply Cadmium Yellow over the center of the Carbon Black. Paint a highlight in Cadmium Yellow with Titanium White.


Always let one paint color dry before using the next color over it. Feathers take practice. Do a few on watercolor paper before trying them on canvas.


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