Puppy – How to Paint a Cute Puppy in Watercolor

Reference Photo for Puppy Watercolor tutorial

Who can resist a cute puppy – even painting them is fun when you use watercolor. The secret to painting fur is to work in layers and this tutorial will show you how, step by step, for beginners. Learn easy ways to paint white fur, eyes and noses for dogs in watercolor.

For Cute Puppy Downloads click each link

Suggested Paint Colors for Painting This Puppy

  • Light golden brown – raw sienna or mix (raw sienna + burnt sienna) or mix (yellow + burnt sienna)
  • Medium brown – burnt sienna or any tube brown or mix (Dioxazine purple + transparent orange)
  • Dark brown – mix brown + black or Ultramarine blue
  • Black – Mix your own or use a tube black
  • Gray – tube gray or mix (black + water) or mix (Cobalt blue + brown)
  • White – any good opaque white watercolor, acrylic or gouache
  • Background colors – yellow, medium green, dark green (Perylene green or mix (green + black) and brown

Paint a Watercolor Puppy Step by Step

Step 1 – Draw or trace your puppy outline onto your watercolor paper using graphite paper.

Use dark lines for the eyes and nose, so you will be able to see them through the layers of color.

Step 2 – Begin with washes of color, then add shading.

First wash – Paint brown over the eye area and ears (you can paint right over the eyes – they will be darker). Paint light brown over the muzzle and between the ears.

Shading on the eyes – Use dark brown to add shading below the line of the eye brown, with a little at the bottom of the eye.

Shading on:

  • Side of the head
  • Ears
  • Lower jaw
  • white parts – mix a gray and add gray to the white part of the head and white body.

Step 3 – How to paint a dog’s eyes and nose in watercolor.

Eyes – First, paint the entire eye area dark brown and dry well. Then rewet a half circle in the bottom third of the eye with a damp brush and lift up a little of the color with a paper towel or thirsty brush.

Nose – paint the nostrils black. Dry. Paint the bottom 2/3 of the nose dark gray and the top of the nose light gray. Add gray on the muzzle around the bottom 2/3 of the nose.

White – (You can use a tiny brush with opaque white paint or a white gel pen to draw the tiny white lines and dots for the eyes.)

Step 4 – Add as much brown and gray ‘fur’ (short brushstrokes) as you want to add character, then use opaque white to add white hair on top of the gray and brown.


Collar – if you’d like a collar, paint it your favorite color right below the bottom chin. I painted mine red because every painting needs a little red.

Step 5 – Do you want to add a background to your watercolor puppy? Finishing touches.

This is up to you, but a light to medium value background help to make the white parts of the puppy stand out.

Paint your background wet on wet. It can be any color. I copied the reference photo with yellow, green, dark green and a little brown.

Final white – Once your background is dry, use more opaque white to pull some of the white hairs into the background for soft edges. Use short strokes to suggest fur on the body.

watercolor painting of puppy by Deb Watson

Recent Posts