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How to Paint a Lion with Coffee

Updated on March 7, 2018

Painting Close Up

A close up of the painting in progress!
A close up of the painting in progress! | Source

Coffee. The bean we drink. Some like it hot, some like it cold. Some like it black and others prefer cream, sugar, or a plethora of other flavoring. But not only is this unique little bean a wonderful beverage. It can also be used to create interesting and wonderful smelling artwork!

In this tutorial I will show you how I painted a this picture of a lion using coffee and a brown prismacolor pencil.

One quick note before we begin. Since I live in a very dry area the coffee dried quickly while I was painting. Because of this I didn't mention any dry times in my instructions. But if you live somewhere with more humidity you may want to allow a little time for the coffee to dry between steps. Such as the light coffee wash or the layers of coffee before adding the colored pencil.

Okay, that being said, let's get started!

For this tutorial you will need:

  • Watercolor paper
  • Coffee (of course)
  • A brown wax based colored pencil (such as prismacolor)
  • Paint brushes (I used a medium sized flat and a medium sized round brush)
  • A graphite pencil
  • An eraser (I used a Pink Pearl eraser)
  • Water
  • Paper Towels

Some of the supplies you will need!
Some of the supplies you will need! | Source

Step 1: Make the Coffee

First things first, let's make some coffee!

You can use several different methods to prepare your coffee.

I used brewed coffee and instant coffee for this painting.

Let's make the brewed coffee first.

  1. Get a small glass or any other microwavable container. I used juice cups, which hold about 6-8 ounces.
  2. Get some coffee. I used complimentary coffee from a hotel I stayed at recently. I like to use this kind because it comes in a little bag. (And it's also free!)
  3. Fill your cup with just enough water to cover the bag of coffee. Don't worry to much about how much water you use it doesn't have to be too exact. The less water you use the more concentrated your coffee will be.
  4. Put your bag of coffee in your glass and microwave it on high for about 1 minute and 15 seconds. I microwaved mine this long and my coffee boiled over a little so you can probably get away with less time. You just want to make sure your coffee is well brewed.
  5. That's it! Let it cool and it will be ready for painting!

All brewed and ready to go!
All brewed and ready to go! | Source
Time for the Instant Coffee!
Time for the Instant Coffee! | Source

Next let's make the instant coffee.

  1. Fill another small glass with hot water. Probably around the same amount as you used for the brewed coffee. I microwaved my water for about 1 minute and 30 seconds.
  2. Empty one package of instant coffee into the water. I used Nestle Individual Coffee packages, but other types of instant coffee will probably work as well.
  3. Stir the coffee until it is completely dissolved into the water. You want to make sure it's completely dissolved because you don't want to have grounds in your paint.
  4. I decided that I wanted this coffee to be darker so I stirred in another package of the instant coffee.

I tested the shades of the 'coffee paint' on  watercolor paper. The one in the middle is the 'brewed coffee' The left one is what the instant  coffee looked like before I added the second package, the right one is what it looks like now.
I tested the shades of the 'coffee paint' on watercolor paper. The one in the middle is the 'brewed coffee' The left one is what the instant coffee looked like before I added the second package, the right one is what it looks like now. | Source
The Coffee Paint is finished and ready to go! You might also want some paper towels and a small cup of water.
The Coffee Paint is finished and ready to go! You might also want some paper towels and a small cup of water. | Source

Step 2: The Sketch

Now that the 'coffee paint' is finished it's time to prepare a basic sketch of our subject.

I sketched this lion out on watercolor paper using a graphite pencil.

When I was finished I went back over it in the colored pencil and erased the graphite lines.

I did this because the colored pencil will blend better with the coffee and also because you will still see some of it after the coffee is laid down.


Sketch in Graphite
Sketch in Graphite | Source
The colored pencil lines added and graphite erased.
The colored pencil lines added and graphite erased. | Source

Step 3: The Painting

Now you are ready to begin painting!

First, using the flat brush, apply a light, fairly even, wash of the brewed coffee to the entire surface of the lion.

What is a 'Wash'?

So what do I mean by a 'wash' of coffee? Well, in art, the term 'wash' means 'a semi transparent layer of color'. So what I mean is that I am adding a thin, even, layer of coffee to the painting.

The lion with a light wash of the brewed coffee.
The lion with a light wash of the brewed coffee. | Source

Next, using the two package instant 'coffee paint', as well as the round brush, start adding the details and areas of contrast to the lion's face.

Fill out the eyes, making sure to leave a small area of light for a highlight. Also add the details around the nostril and the whiskers.

When you are adding the details to the face make sure that you leave some lighter areas, also use downward strokes to create the illusion of fur.

Slightly darken the areas around the snout. This contrast will help to create the illusion that the snout is coming forward toward the viewer.

While you are at it make sure that you darken the area under the chin as well. This will bring the face forward.

Lion's face with areas of detail and contrast.
Lion's face with areas of detail and contrast. | Source

Step 4: Correcting Mistakes

As you paint the coffee may get thicker in certain areas, or you might make a mistake or not like the way something looks.

If that happens don't worry about it. It is easy to fix!

All you do is take your handy dandy paper towel and dabb up the offending area.

Voila! Your ready to try it again!

If you make a mistake like I did on this area of the whiskers, don't worry!
If you make a mistake like I did on this area of the whiskers, don't worry! | Source
Just lift your mistakes or unwanted marks up with a paper towel!
Just lift your mistakes or unwanted marks up with a paper towel! | Source

Step 5: Painting the Mane

We have added the details to the face it is time to move on to the mane!

Using the instant coffee, add darker areas to the mane. Use wispy brushstrokes to imitate the lion's hair. Change the direction of the strokes to make the hair look more natural.

Remember to leave some of the lighter areas in the mane as well.


This is what the painting looks like after I added some of the darker areas to the mane.
This is what the painting looks like after I added some of the darker areas to the mane. | Source

Step 6: Adding the Colored Pencil

Our painting seems to be coming along nicely.

We have added the details to the mane and the face. And we have achieved a few basic values. But I would like some of the values to be darker.

So I will add the colored pencil.

To add the colored pencil...

  1. Wet the area you want to darken with coffee.
  2. Go directly into the coffee with the colored pencil while it is still wet.
  3. The tip of the colored pencil will become wet with the coffee and cause the pencil to have a smooth 'gel like' effect.

This is a really good way to add extra value and definition to the eyes, nose, mouth, and other areas.




What is Value?

What is Value? Well, in art value is 'the relative lightness or darkness of a color'

Value is very important for communicating the 'form' or the shape of a subject.

First apply a generous application of coffee to the area.
First apply a generous application of coffee to the area. | Source
Then go directly into the coffee with the colored pencil.
Then go directly into the coffee with the colored pencil. | Source

Keep working with the coffee and the colored pencil until you have the effects you would like.

Remember to use strokes that define the form of the object (short strokes for fur, curricular dabbs for the eyes, etc.) and leave some lighter areas as well.

The face with colored penciled added.
The face with colored penciled added. | Source

I decided that I needed more value around the face so I added another layer of the coffee.

The lion with more colored pencil work and another layer of coffee around the face.
The lion with more colored pencil work and another layer of coffee around the face. | Source

Keep working the coffee and the colored pencil.

Wet large portions of the mane and add layered 'hairlike' strokes with the colored pencil, remembering to leave some of the areas lighter.

Lion with the colored pencil added to the mane.
Lion with the colored pencil added to the mane. | Source

Keep working until you have the mane and face completed.

You may want to go back and add more coffee and colored pencil around the face or under the chin.

Tada! Your painting is almost complete!
Tada! Your painting is almost complete! | Source

Step 7: Correcting Hard Edges

Sometimes when the coffee dries it creates hard edges.

These are easy to fix. All you need is a little water.

Take your round brush and dip it into your water. Then simply dabb the hard edges to soften them.

Sometimes hard edges, like this one between the lions eyes, form as the coffee dries.
Sometimes hard edges, like this one between the lions eyes, form as the coffee dries. | Source
To fix hard edges simply soften the edges with a little water.
To fix hard edges simply soften the edges with a little water. | Source

That's It!

Now your coffee painting is complete!

Don't forget to sign it and add the date!

The completed painting!
The completed painting! | Source

Did you find this Tutorial helpful?

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Another Coffee Painting for Inspiration!

"Faded Rose" Coffee Painting
"Faded Rose" Coffee Painting | Source

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    • Sara Copley profile image
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      Sara Copley 3 weeks ago

      Thank you Deborah! I am so glad you enjoyed it! I hope you find it useful in your own coffee painting!

    • Deborah Minter profile image

      Deborah Minter 7 months ago from U.S, California

      Great article! I can't wait to paint with coffee.

    • Sara Copley profile image
      Author

      Sara Copley 2 years ago

      Thanks eveklc! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • eveklc profile image

      eveklc 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Amazing! Very nice!

    • Sara Copley profile image
      Author

      Sara Copley 2 years ago

      Hi Vellur! Thank you so much! I am so glad you enjoyed it!

    • Sara Copley profile image
      Author

      Sara Copley 2 years ago

      Hi Jodah! Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I hope you find it useful in your own art! :)

    • Sara Copley profile image
      Author

      Sara Copley 2 years ago

      Hi pstraubie48! Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed it. Thanks also for sharing my hub. I really appreciate it! :)

    • Sara Copley profile image
      Author

      Sara Copley 2 years ago

      Hi Jackie! Thank you so much! I am so glad you enjoyed it. I hope you find it useful in making your own coffee creations!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Beautiful! Uniquely creative. The lion looks alive and majestic. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This is great. Good step by step tutorial and very good outcome. I will have to try this.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Wow...a wonderful how to for those who can do. I can admire and ooh and aah but my talent in this area is very limited. Thank goodness for people like you who can transform a piece of paper into art...the coffee gives such an interesting hug.

      Well done...shared

      Angels are on the way to you this early morning hour ps

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      That is just amazing; will have to try it this winter! Thanks for sharing it.

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