Easy Watercolor Painting in 5 Steps: Green Gecko

Easy Watercolor Painting in 5 Steps: Green Gecko

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

The classic image of a gecko in motion is like an open invitation to artists. With its exquisite curves and beautiful colors, the playful gecko is teasing you to have a go at painting it. There are many amazing, free photos of geckos online. For this easy watercolor painting tutorial, I opted for a photo with limited details. The reason is that it will help us to keep it simple. Five steps only. 

Gecko symbolism

If you are looking for a symbol of good luck, the gecko is your animal. As guardians of the home, they protect from negativity and bring good fortune. This is true in many cultures. 

Cut the tail of a gecko and it will grow back fresh and fine. Regeneration and renewal are potent symbols of the gecko. It stands for overcoming obstacles and blossoming into something new. If there is an illness in the home, a visiting gecko will restore health.

So, let the good-luck gecko inspire your watercolor! 

Gecko reference photo
Photo: Tambako The Jaguar via Flickr/ Creative Commons

Drawing the gecko

Drawing the gecko is fun and easy. If you rather not and want to just watercolor, you are welcome to download my drawing for free. It is available in the One Tree Art Club library. (members: check your newsletter for access details). You can trace and transfer the outline to watercolor paper.

Gecko outline and tracing for watercolor paper.

Preparing your colors

It always pays to mix the colors for your painting in advance. In that way, you can avoid muddy colors and other mistakes. The more you decide in advance, the easier it is to paint. Some may argue that it takes away from spontaneous creativity. I say, no, not at all. The better prepared, the more freedom to experiment. 

The colors for this painting are few and easy to assemble.

Watercolor palette fro the gecko.

Step 1: Painting the apple green foundation color

Paint the entire figure with plain water first. Then, paint it with apple green watercolor. Make sure to add more pigments at the center of the body, running from the head and downwards. The water will help to distribute the color with smooth transitions.

First layer of apple green watercolor paint on the whole gecko.

Step 2: Adding ochre watercolor

Add more green color as you see fit. For the hands, feet, and tip of the tail, paint with ochre. Let the ochre color also run softly along the sides and bleed into the green. Use more pigment in the extremities and less on the main body. 

Adding ochre to the apple green watercolor.

Step 3: Paint shadows with a dark green

While the paint is still moist, paint the shadows with the darker green. By moist I mean humid enough for the color to bleed but dry enough to bleed just a little. Use the tip of your brush to create delicate transitions of color. 

Painting the shadows with a dark green color.

Step 4: Add the red spots

Look at the reference photo when you paint the red spots. They don’t need to be at exactly the same place. Paint them in the same general area but feel free to play. No two lizards are alike. Your painting will certainly not be, neither. 

Painting the red spots on the gecko's back.
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Step 5: A touch of colored pencils and a splash of bright red

Wait for the painting to dry. Draw a thin outline with a sharp brown colored pencil. Keep sharpening as you draw to keep the line thin. If you are confident with a fineliner (ink), then use that. I prefer a sepia-colored pencil because I can erase mistakes. And believe me, I make plenty of mistakes. I envy those who comfortably draw outlines with ink. 

The dark red spots are now ripe for a brush-up with bright red paint. The underlying dark red spots create a sort of outline for the bright red. That makes them look more like the spots in the photo.

Touch-up with colored pencils and some more red on the spots. The gecko watercolor is done.

You can continue drawing more details with colored pencils, but I think the gecko looks just fine without too. 

An easy watercolor painting is completed

And that’s it. Have fun with the gecko! If you wonder about art materials needed for this tutorial, check out my Guide to Art Supplies.

And don’t forget- if you are keen to learn how to draw flowers, my book “How to Draw Flowers Step by Step. 46 Easy Designs” will help you out.

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