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Level: Intermediate

Medium: Water Mixable Oil

  • Description
  • Supplies
  • Instructions
  • PDF Worksheet & Line Drawing

Painting fur and feathers is all about layering and growth direction.  Follow along my step-by-step and discover how layered feathers can create the appearance of soft and fluffy downy baby ducks!


  • How to paint fluffy down
  • How to use a filbert comb
  • How to layer feathers
Callia Artist Brushes
  • 10/0 Liner
  • #2 Chisel Blender
  • #4 Chisel Blender
  • #6 Chisel Blender
  • 1/4″ Filbert Comb
  • 3/8″ Dodo Drybrush
Cobra Water Mixable Oil
  • Ivory Black
  • Yellow Light
  • Yellow Medium
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Titanium White
  • Pyrrole Red
  • Raw Sienna
  • Burnt Umber
Other Supplies
  • Paper Towel
  • Surface of choice
  • Container for water
  • Palette or palette paper
  • Transfer paper
  • Acrylic color of choice for the background

The Fluffy Duck


  1. Download the PDF.
  2. Basecoat your surface with acrylic paint.
  3. Transfer the design using grey transfer paper or sketch it onto your surface.

Palette: Cobra Water Mixable OIl

Pre-mix the following paint colors:

  1. Baby Pink: Titanium White + Pyrrole Red (5:1)
  2. Light Yellow: Yellow Light
  3. Medium Yellow: Raw Sienna
  4. Dark Yellow: Raw Sienna + Burnt Sienna
  5. Dark Brown:  Burnt Umber

Basic Steps

  1. Apply Values with a chisel blender using the chisel edge.
  2. Connect the value with the chisel edge of the Dodo Drybrush. In small areas of sharply contrasting values, simply wiggle the brush from side to side, in larger areas pull or overlap one value onto another.
  3. Use the filbert comb to soften fur areas. Thin paint and use the comb to apply dark and light values.
  4. Use the liner to define and add extra highlights. Overlay or overlap. To lay one layer of fur over another. This term applies when you are adding highlights or shadows or when you are overlapping different colors or values of fur.
  5. It is very important to stack the layers, allowing each preceding layer to show through adding depth and dimension.
  6. Use the Filbert Comb, Chisel Blender, or a liner depending on the effect you want to create. I prefer to use the chisel blender first, then the Filbert Comb for the layers, and then a small liner for the detail work. Using a

Using a Filbert Comb

  1. Filbert Comb: Thin the color with water until the consistency is creamy (almost wash consistency). Completely load the Filbert Comb, press brush onto palette, spreading the bristles, and wiggle slightly from side to side to separate the bristles. Gently blot the tip of the brush on a piece of paper towel, then apply to the desired fur section. Occasionally turn the brush from side to side to achieve thinner and thicker feathers.

Painting The Duck

  1. Paint the eye with Ivory Black using a liner and thinned paint.
  2. Paint the pink part of the beak with Baby Pink using a small chisel blender. Paint the brown part with Dark Brown. Blend softly. Highlight the beak with Titanium White and blend. Use a liner to stipple White around the nostril.
  3. After you paint the eyes and beak use the chisel edge of the brush to block in the layers of feathers.  Remember that each section will overlap the last section. Begin with Dark Brown on the crown of the head, the back of the head and leading to the eye.
  4. The next value in the shadow areas is Dark Yellow, followed by Medium White and then Light Yellow.
  5. Use the chisel edge of the brush to pull the color onto the area. Dry-wipe the brush often so the colors don’t become muddy and chisel blend.
  6. Use the Filbert Comb to overlay the various layers of fur with highlights and shadows, working the colors into the base.
  7. Once all layers are applied, use the liner to add detail. Thin the paint and pull thin lines overlapping each area.
  8. If desired, use the liner to add more thinned detail lines.

Download the worksheet and follow along!



Willow Wolfe

Willow Wolfe is widely recognized for challenging and modernizing today’s world of art supplies and education. An award-winning art teacher and the author of a library of internationally available learn to paint books and articles, her approachable style and step-by-step painting methods have taken her to events, seminars and engagements across the globe.

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