How to Paint a Lion with Coffee
Painting Close Up
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)
- Paper Towels
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.
- Get a small glass or any other microwavable container. I used juice cups, which hold about 6-8 ounces.
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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.
- That's it! Let it cool and it will be ready for painting!
Next let's make the instant coffee.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I decided that I wanted this coffee to be darker so I stirred in another package of the instant coffee.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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...
- Wet the area you want to darken with coffee.
- Go directly into the coffee with the colored pencil while it is still wet.
- 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.
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.
I decided that I needed more value around the face so I added another layer of the coffee.
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.
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.
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.
Now your coffee painting is complete!
Don't forget to sign it and add the date!