Step-By-Step Guide to Painting a Realistic Peacock – Unlock Your Inner Artist Today!

  • By: Michael Smith
  • Date: September 26, 2023
  • Time to read: 4 min.
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Hello, my dear friends!

Today we will have an interesting drawing art lesson. We will paint one of the most wonderful creatures in the world – a peacock – using the oil paints. In addition to the fact that you will learn to paint a peacock, you will also have practice in an unusual oil painting technique. 

You will need the following materials and tools for our oil painting lesson:

  • Whit
  • Lamp BlacK
  • Turquoise Blue or Blue-Green;
  • Sky Blue;
  • Cobalt Green Light
  • Cobalt Violet Deep
  • Naples Yellow
  • Alizarin Crimson

also you will need:

  • several palette knifes;
  • square canvas (the black one would be the best);
  • linseed oil;
  • napkins for cleaning the palette knife
  • rounded brush №3-4
  • if you do not have a colorful canvas, you can color it yourself. In this case you will need a bit of the paint thinner and a big brush.

It is not a shame to paint a peacock due to the photo and not from life because the most of us can observe these birds only in the zoos. Here is the photo which has served as an example for me.

As for me, a peacock is a great topic for a painting lesson, especially if you want to create something beautiful and unusual.

So let`s start solving our task:

Learn to paint a peacock stage by stage:

1. Even if you have a colorful canvas, you can still color it a bit and damp at the same time. For example, I took a big brush and mixed the following paints in the equal proportions:
Lamp Black+ Cobalt Violet+ Blue-Green + the paint thinner and covered the canvas with this mix before starting the work.

2. When the canvas is ready, you can begin making the composition. As far as the canvas is dark and not wet enough and the picture is quite simple, you can outline the basic elements of your composition using a rounded brush of a small size and any paint from your palette.
In my case the diagrammatic composition will look something like this:

3. Let`s come over to the next stage of our oil painting workshop – working with the paints.
Add a little linseed oil into the paints (mainly into the White) and stir it till you get the indiscrete mass. Then add the White into the other paints on your palette. Also you can mix the linseed oil with the other paints if you do not plan to mix them with the White (ultramarine, blue-green).

Sketch out the head and the neck of a peacock.
For this purpose use the Sky Blue, the Ultramarine and a bit of the Violet. All the paints should be applied with the small brush strokes with the help of a palette knife. Slightly touch the canvas with a palette knife when applying the paint.

You can sketch out the white spot around the peacock`s eyes at once.

The next stage of our free oil painting lesson is drawing the peacock`s feathers:
Outline the direction of the feathers using the palette knife with a long blade. For this purpose I have used the mixes of the following paints: Blue-Green, Sky Blue, Blue and Naples Yellow.
After you have outlined the main beautiful steam of a feather, you can sketch out the other feathers which are called vane. You can do it quickly and easily using a palette knife preferably with a pointed tip.

Then sketch out the beautiful big round feathers with very pastous brush strokes using the Ultramarine, the Blue-Green and the Cobalt Violet.

You should consider the fact that your picture has the shadow and the lightened sides. In this case the beautiful round feathers of the vane will be brighter and a bit lighter on the right and darker on the left.

It is important not to be lazy and to create a lot of thin «branches» out of the each feather. This will add a beautiful texture and an unusual relief to your work. As it is shown in the oil painting lesson video– the best way to do this is to use a palette knife with a pointed tip.

You will meet some nuances while working on the painting.

    • Improve the shape of the neck.
    • «Cut» the outlines of the flaky feathers on the bird`s body.
    • Draw the crown.
    • Draw in a fleck on the bird`s eye.
    • Make the dark dimple on the nib.
    • And so on.


Oil painting technique, how to paint bird of peacock
Oil painting technique, how to paint bird of peacock

This is a kind of art lesson when it is much easier to show than to explain what to do. It is difficult for me to describe the manner of movements made with the help of a palette knife. And I feel myself quite unconfident in the terminology which describes the organization of the peacock`s feather. That is why I offer all of you to watch the video – I think it will be the best way of explanation. I hope those who like reading the long texts will forgive me.

Hope you have liked today`s art lesson and its interesting oil painting technique. 

As always I will be happy to read your comments and to look at the photos of your works.

I wish all of you good luck and new success in your creative work!


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