Paint a blue whale with acrylics on canvas. This tutorial shows you how to paint an underwater scene with dark blues and turquoise. We will also be painting a starry night sky above the ocean.
Enjoy and happy painting!
- 11 x 14 Canvas
- Acrylic Paints (I use Liquitex BASICS)
- Paint Brushes (sizes listed below)
- Paint Palette
- Protected Workspace or Easel
- Water Cup
- Paper Towel
- Wet Wipe or Baby Wipe (for erasing chalk)
- Titanium White
- Mars Black
- Turquoise Blue
- Prussian Blue (Phthalo Blue if you don’t have Prussian…the 48 piece set does not come with Prussian)
- Cobalt Blue
Using Craft Paints?
If you are using craft paints, such as the Apple Barrel craft paints, I would recommend subbing to:
- Navy Blue
- Too Blue
- Bimini Blue
Directions At A Glance
This is optional! I don’t use the tracer in the tutorial, however, if you need help with the drawing portion you are welcome to use this tracer.
Step By Step Instructions
1. Paint The Water
Use a ruler to measure 10.5″ from the bottom of the canvas. Make a mark. This is where the water line will be.
Then load your palette with the three colors: turquoise, Prussian blue and mars black.
Use a 1″ flat brush to paint about a 1.5″ area on the bottom of the ocean pure black. Paint this so that it curves downwards.
Next, wipe off the brush. Load it into the Prussian Blue. Blend that blue down into the black and continue to keep the “downward curve” direction. This will be a very dark blue at first and that is okay.
Then completely rinse the brush. Add just Prussian blue and blend it gently down into the dark blue.
Completely rinse the brush again and add just turquoise blue to your brush. Blend the turquoise blue into the Prussian Blue.
Gentle blend this blue up into the middle portion of the canvas. Then wipe the brush off. Load it into just titanium white. With the tip of your brush, paint a curve at that 10″ mark. Make sure this curves slightly down. This will be the top edge of the water.
Load your brush in the titanium white and a small amount of turquoise. Paint curved long strokes working your way down. Then blend your light turquoise area with the darker turquoise area.
It’s okay if this doesn’t blend perfectly or if there are streaks of dark and light throughout the water area.
Load a little bit of just turquoise on the tip of your brush. Gently paint curved marks throughout the light part of the water to create some water texture lines.
2. Paint The Sky
Use the 1″ flat brush to paint the sky. Load it into mars black and paint a small portion of the sky at the very top. Wipe the brush off and then load it into Prussian blue. Gently blend the Prussian blue into the black.
Bring the Prussian blue down to the middle area. Then add a small amount of titanium white to your brush and blend that at the bottom. This will lighten the sky slightly at the bottom closest to the water line. Fill the entire sky area using all left and right strokes. If needed, switch to a smaller flat brush.
Then use the 12 bright brush or any of the round brushes to paint the water edge white. Outline the water line with a thick layer of white. This doesn’t have to be a smooth line, it can be somewhat wavy.
3. Splatter Stars Everywhere
Use a toothbrush and titanium white to splatter stars everywhere. Add a small amount of water into the white (not too much) and then flick the brush to create tiny white splatters in the sky as well as in the ocean water.
4. Draw Whale With Chalk
Make sure everything is dry before doing this step. You are welcome to use my template for this or you can hand draw it with me with chalk.
Use a piece of chalk to draw two large curves that dip down from the top of the ocean water into the dark area. Make it so the tail area is not that wide.
It’s almost like you are drawing a banana shape with the lower right part of the banana a little wider. Then draw a division line from the nose of the whale to about the middle area.
Draw the whale tale. I made sure the tail was still under the water, however, you can have the tail go above the water if you want.
Draw one of the pectoral fins extending down from the center line.
Then draw the whale’s eye and the second pectoral fin.
Use a wet wipe as needed to erase the chalk and adjust your drawing.
5. Paint Whale
Create a gray-blue color on your palette by mixing 2 parts “Cobalt Blue”, 2 parts “Titanium White” and 1 part “Mars Black”. Adjust this as needed. It should be a medium gray-blue color.
Use the #8 round brush to paint the tale and the upper portion of the whale’s body (everything above the white belly region).
You may need to adjust your drawing as you are painting this in. Also, it’s okay to vary your “blue gray” color a bit. To do this, reload the brush in different amounts of the cobalt and/or add bits of white or tiny bits of black into it. Then gently let the colors blend on the canvas. Use long, curved strokes to paint the top part of the whale’s body.
Add a bit more cobalt towards the bottom and blend up.
Next use either the 8 round or the 4 round to paint the bottom area of the whale. Load your brush into “Titanium White” and paint with curved strokes.
It may help to outline the area to be painted in white first and then fill it in solid. Don’t worry about shading just yet.
Then, without rinsing the white off of the round brush, add a bit of black to it. Add a little bit of black just on the far right edge under the whale’s mouth and drag the black down in a curved direction. Then loosely outline the edge of the blue that meets the white under portion of the whale. Loosely outline the left of the pectoral fin. Then add a little bit of black to the far right of the pectoral fin. If needed, add a little blue to blend it in.
Use a wet-wipe to clean up some of the chalk lines. Be very careful not to smear any wet paint. Then use titanium white and the #4 round brush to loosely outline the top edge of the whale’s back and parts of the whale’s tale.
Add a little bit of black mixed with cobalt blue in the bottom areas of the blue area towards the back of the whale. Then paint the other pectoral fin using cobalt blue. Add a little bit of black to the left side of it and blend it in.
Then use the #4 round brush and titanium white to paint the eye. Paint a sort of stretched “cat eye” shape about an inch and a half to the left of the far right edge of the whale.
Next, use a tiny tip brush to paint thin black lines for the whale’s grooves. I used the #8 round brush and mars black to paint curved lines along the white area of the whale. These do not have to be evenly spaced apart. They are also very loose and seem to fade away on the far left.
Paint the grooves so they curve up on the right side of the whale and go all the way to the far right side of the under part of the whale’s mouth.
Again, these lines can be very loose and do not need to connect all the way.
Use the same brush to paint small black dots on the right side of the pectoral fin.
Paint black dots on the far right side of the tail fin and just under the eye. These dots are done by just “stippling” the tip of the round brush.
Then paint the interior of the eye using black. Paint a similar shape and leave a thin white border still showing on the edge of the eye.
Then use cobalt and black (about equal parts) and the #4 round brush to paint loose, contouring strokes around the eye, under the eye and some on the far left of the pectoral fin.
After the black dries, paint a small white dot on the far right of the eye. Then use the tip of the #8 round brush and titanium white to paint loose water lines on the top of the whale over the blue area. These are thin, wavy lines that are very loose.
6. Paint bubble dots & stars
Use the tip of the #8 round brush to paint small white dots around the bottom dark area of the water under the whale’s fins.
Paint a variety of different sizes. All of them are tiny but you can still vary the sizes by making some slightly larger and some very fine points.
Then paint stars in the sky. I used the tip of my round brush to paint little “diamond like” stars throughout the sky area. You can also do constellations to add to the “whimsical nature” of this painting.
To make some of the stars look like they are glowing, use your index finger to smear some of the white dots and then paint a dot in the center after you smear it.
Also, paint some bubbles/dots on the very top around the whale’s tale. Paint a few loose white water lines that overlap the tail slightly.