Baby Chicks Sketch
Watercolor Sketching Tutorial

by Jennifer Branch
YouTube Watercolor Painting Tutorial

There is nothing cuter than baby chicks in the spring. This isn't a serious painting. This is just a charming little sketch of fluffy chicks playing in the spring.

This took me about 30 minutes to sketch, using photos. Sketching live was a little too hectic, because keeping them together and the short amount of time they can spend outside at the downy stage. (There was an unexpected cold snap.)

I hope this inspires you to paint everyday!

Baby Chicks Sketch Watercolor Painting tutorial

Sketching Tutorial Level


Skill Building

Everyday Painting



Art Supplies

5" x 8"
Pentalic Aqua Journal

Isabey Pointed Round Sable, no.14


M. Graham watercolors

Quinacridone Red
Nickel Azo Yellow
Cobalt Violet
Quinacridone Rust
Van Dyke Brown (Daniel Smith)
White Gouache

Painting Demonstration 1

Baby Chicks Sketch Watercolor Painting Lesson 1

I begin with very light drybrush on the chick looking at me. I'm starting with just 3 pigments, nickel azo yellow, cobalt violet and quinacridone rust. The chick is covered in light, fluffy down, so my brush strokes need to stay very light.

Chicks Painting Lesson Reference Photo

Flying Chick Reference Photo

Painting Demonstration 2

Baby Chicks Sketch Watercolor Painting Lesson 2

I darken and dull the shadows with cobalt violet and a touch of quinacridone rust. I lightly sketch a shadow to ground it.

Painting Demonstration 3

Baby Chicks Sketch Painting Tutorial 3

I start painting the flapping chick with quinacridone rust and nickel azo yellow. This chick is in motion, trying out her wings, so she'll be a little more blurred than the first.

Artist's Tips

Keep your brush stokes dry and light for the fluffy down.
Baby Chicks Sketch watercolor painting tutorial by Jennifer Branch

Painting Demonstration 4

Baby Chicks Sketch Painting Tutorial 4

More cool shadows and a lot of splatter! Have fun with the splattering. It keeps things loose and not serious!

Painting Demonstration 5

Baby Chicks Sketch Painting Tutorial 5

Add a little bit of focus to the face by painting the eye. I'm going back with a flick of white gouache later so I don't reserve a white reflection.

The feathers are so much fun to paint. Just sweep your brush lightly along each distinct feather. Remember, only one side of a feather is an angle. The other side has different lighting!

Painting Demonstration 6

Baby Chicks Sketch Watercolor Painting Tutorial 6

A bit more shadows, just building up the fluff! This is where it's very easy to get too heavy, so keep each layer light and work around the sketch.

Painting Demonstration 7

Baby Chicks Sketch Watercolor Painting Tutorial 7

Finishing up the details. Don't forget bird's legs are segmented, so they reflect in striations.

Baby Chicks Sketch Watercolor Painting tutorial

Final Watercolor Sketch!

I finished with a few touches of white gouache on the eyes and a faint blur on the raised leg. I also softened the highlight on the raised leg a little.

This is such a fun little sketch. I really enjoyed doing it and the memories of my kids and dog running around herding the chickens.

As you are painting, the only thing to keep in mind is keep a light hand. I showed my palette in the YouTube video so you could see there weren't puddles of pigment, but just dry scribbles. When you're painting a baby's portrait you barely touch the paper - same thing with these babies!

I hope this inspires you to go paint spring!

Happy Painting! Jennifer Branch