Twisted Oak Tree with Squirrel


For this project I used:

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Download the Outline

Watercolour illustration of an oak tree with cute squirrel!

Download The Line Art For This Project

Click the button below to download the outline for this project for free. All you need to do is print it out, transfer the outline to your watercolour paper using carbon paper, pencil transfer or by using a light source like a light box. See my video on how to do this if you’re stuck!

Downloads are for personal use only. Please do not sell any work based on this artwork and please credit me if you post work online that you’ve made from following this tutorial or using this line work.

Video Tutorial on Youtube!

Step - By - Step Instructions

Draw or Trace your Pencil Outline

Find the outline above and follow this video tutorial to transfer your line drawing onto watercolour paper.

Begin to paint the Tree

Paint in the tree with a mix of Sepia with a little quin gold. Apply the paint over the whole trunk, branches and roots. Work quickly so that you don’t get hard lines in your painted areas.

Add some areas of shade in a slightly darker mix of the same colour. You can blend out any unwanted hard lines with a damp paintbrush while your paint is still wet.

paint the Leaves

Paint the tree canopy and the leaves on the plants in a range of green tones. Make a puddle of greens on your palette using gold, ultramarine and Winsor blue, you can add in some areas of sepia and permanent rose too, just create a range of soft green tones. Paint these areas by dipping your brush in different parts of your green puddle to pick up different tones of green and allow them to mix on the page.

Make sure each area is completely dry before painting the one next to it.

Paint the First Layer on the Squirrel and Mushrooms.

For the squirrel, paint carefully within your sketched lines with clean water, drop in a burnt orange colour made from permanent rose and quinacridone gold at the centre of the wet area and allow it to spread, keep the tummy and the tip of the squirrel’s tail clear. Allow the paint to dry before going in with the next layer.

For the mushrooms, paint a layer of quinacridone gold paint over the whole area.

Paint Cow Parsley Stalks

Use your fine brush to paint in the cow parsley stalks in sepia, and vein lines on the leaves in a dark green.

Add small crosses and dashes at the top of the cow parsley stems to show the seed heads.

Add details to the areas of flat colour

At this step, add more green to your tree canopy if you think you need it. I’ve added lines of darker green shadow at the bottom of each clump of leaves, and blended that out with a damp brush.

I’ve added a darker line of quinacridone gold to each mushroom, down the left hand side of each cap, along the edge of the cap and down the left hand side of each stalk I can see.

I’ve begun adding fine lines of sepia in curling and twisting shapes to the tree trunk. It’s a good idea to practice these first on a scrap piece of paper.

Paint Detail onto your leaves

Add small leaf shapes in a mix of greens and browns, make rusty browns by mixing permanent rose into your greens. I’ve tried to make mine look like tiny oak leaves but you can make simple leaf shapes by dotting your paintbrush if you fancy something simpler!

Define yor Squirrel

Paint shapes on the squirrel that will be slightly darker, these are a c-curve on the face, both ears, the underside of the foreleg, under the nut it’s holding, another c-curve around the back leg, and along the tail, where it meets the squirrel’s body.

If you don’t want sharp lines, use a damp paintbrush to slightly soften the edges.

Apply shading to the mushrooms

Use sepia to further define the shadows on the mushrooms, painting in-between the gaps and darkening the shadows on the mushrooms caps and stalks.

Survey the image and darken areas

First, paint some green along the bottom of your image in-between the plants and the tree. Give it a few tufts at the top edge so it’s not a straight line.

Take a look at your whole image and decide if any areas need strengthening. In this case, I wanted the tree trunk and squirrel to be darker, so I repeated my previous steps with another layer of slightly darker paint.

Finishing Touches

To complete the image, I decided to also increase the strength of the shaded area on the tree canopy.

I also felt like the grassy area needed more detail so made flicks of different greens over the whole area to look like blades of grass.

I look forward to seeing your interpretations of this project!

if you post your work on instagram, tag me @louracheldavis and I’ll see them, and share them in my stories!