Watercolour Otter

It seems appropriate to paint a watercolour otter, doesn’t it? I mean – they’re almost always in water, or next to it! Otters are also one of my favourite aquatic animals – they’re just so cute, and playful. For today’s project, I followed along with the Let’s Make Art video tutorial, and used their image for the sketch reference.


Let’s Make Art is super generous in letting anyone download reference outlines, and watch their videos for free. They do sell complete kits, that come with the outline, colour reference photo, paints & paper – everything you need to do the project. You can also join their subscription service, and get them automatically. As I’ve said before, I would definitely order their kits, if it weren’t for the horrific exchange rate and shipping costs. *sad face* So, in return for using their resources for free, I make sure to promote the heck out of them, whenever I use them! So please – be sure to check out Let’s Make Art, and subscribe or order, if you can!


First, sketch out your otter onto watercolour paper. I use Arches 140 lb cold press paper. For the head of the otter, I actually traced it, as I was having trouble with the shape. I think it’s because of the angle of the perspective – it’s sort of from the side, looking at an angle. I still think the head is a bit oddly shaped! Anyway – after sketching lightly in pencil, pull out your brushes and watercolour paints.

When painting, I started out by watching the video tutorial about half way, then paused it, and did some painting. Sarah outlines the steps for painting, which are first the shadows, 2nd the shadows/dark areas on the fur, 3rd the water, 4th the face features (eyes/nose/mouth) and then finally the details.

Here’s a look at my finished watercolour otter.

Watercolour Otter

Well, what do you think? I could  point out all the areas where I think I went wrong – but I’m trying to not be so critical of myself!  Oh – one part I’m really proud of – if you look very close to the otter’s arm in the water – see how I added the brown, indicating that part of the otter is under water? I’m really happy with how good that looks 🙂


I use my Daniel Smith watercolour paints, of course. For the fur, I made the brown with a mix of Raw Umber and Goethite. The water is a combination of Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue and Phthalo Blue. In some areas, I mixed two , or even all 3 of the blues. For the eyes, nose & mouth I combined the tiniest bit of black with Phthalo Blue and Alizarin Crimson, so that the wouldn’t look so ‘flat’.  You can also see in the fur where I mixed some Quinacridone Rose with the brown mix, to give some more interest.  The brushes I chose are my #8 Princeton Round and #3 Grumbacher.


I’ll be honest, and say that I was questioning this project yesterday, when I stepped away from it. But that’s normal – and that’s WHY we need to step away from our projects. When you come back to them, you aren’t so literally & figuratively ‘close’ to them, so you can see with fresh eyes where you want to add more detail, blend out some areas, etc. So that’s what I did – some final details, and then called it done!  Yes – this photo IS the same as the one above!

Watercolour Otter


Remember – today is the absolute last day for you to enter my watercolour contest! READ THIS POST from yesterday for all the details on how to enter-but be quick! Cut off is midnight tonight, PST.  You could be the lucky winner of the beautiful, useful Art Pouch – perfect for storing your brushes, pencils, etc.

Watercolour Otter

Good luck with your entry! I’m looking forward to seeing your watercolour art!

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Written by 

I've always liked to create things, but I'm not a great artist, or sculptor, or any type of 'traditional' artist - but I love to create! I love the satisfaction of a completed project. Whether a card, painting or other project - as long as it can create a smile, evoke a feeling, or some type of reaction in the recipient. I hope you will enjoy sharing my creations, and occasional ramblings; I'd enjoy having you create with me! :)

4 thoughts on “Watercolour Otter

  1. I I love the way you got the movement in the water and his little face Is so cute. Nice!

    1. Thank you, Buffy! I’m going to look for another otter photo reference, from a different angle. I think that’s what’s bothering me about this one.

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