Bob Ross Materials


The wildlife technique has been developed to complete the range of subjects available with the Joy of Painting! You can finally paint animals without working to death in order to achieve an amazing wildlife painting project: penetrating eyes, long and short fur, feathers effect, corrugated skin, stripes or spots…

As for the other techniques, master the basic principles and you will be able to paint any animal you like.

A wildlife painting project is created in two steps:

    1) Acrylics painting
    2) Oils painting


Once you have drawn the outlines of your animal on the canvas (don’t worry: if you can’t draw there are available several animals’ patterns that you can easily reproduce on the canvas with some graphite paper! Problem sorted!) we use acrylics to block in the shape.

Bob Ross liquid acrylic black and white and grey gesso are used to create the “underpaint”. It is convenient to use a Styrofoam dinner plate as a disposable palette. A vaporizer can be used to keep the acrylics soft while underpainting.

The following water friendly brushes can be used to underpaint wildlife:

  • Wildlife Detail nr 2: used to paint the eyes (example: pupil, outline the iris, reflected crescent, highlights)
  • Wildlife Eye Brush: smaller brush useful for details (example: wagon wheels)
  • Wildlife finisher nr 6 and nr 8: very versatile, used for the outside areas around the eyes, stripes, feathers, light smudging…
  • Wildlife fur brush ½”: used to add soft fine fur areas
  • Wildlife Bristle ½” and ¾”: used for underpaint fur, cover wide areas, smudging.

With a step by step method we underpaint the eyes of the animal first. Different animals have different eyes shapes but they can be represented by a few basic types: big cats eyes (lion, tiger, jaguar…), smaller eyes type (squirrel and small animals) and bigger eyes type (zebra, elephant, bear, deer…). Round eyes are used to paint big birds.

Basic big cat eyes are underpainted in 5 steps:

    1) Outline and fill the pupil and outline the iris with the Detail brush
    2) Fill the outside area with the Detail and/or Finisher Brushes, creating a “feathered” edge
    3) Smudge the upper area of the iris with a finisher or ½” Bristle brush
    4) Add the secondary highlight and the reflected crescent with the detail brush. Wagon wheels can be also painted from the crescent toward the pupil area. These elements are painted with a light grey mixture.
    5) Add the primary highlight with the detail brush. This element is painted in white acrylic.

The other types of eyes are simpler, since we don’t have so many details in the iris.

Once the eyes are underpainted, we carry on adding the other main features like the nose/beak, mouth, ears, stripes or spots or feathers…

The next step is called “smudging”. With a finisher or bristle brush loaded to a “smudge level” with black acrylic we can start to create shadows and lights on the face and the body, to enhance the shape, the roundness or a flat area, the muscles under the skin or wrinkles… Wide white areas in white or partially white animals are smudged using white acrylic.

Fur and feathers are also underpainted with the acrylics, mainly with finisher and/or bristle brushes…

Once the underpainting is complete, we can clean our brushes before they dry (!) and put water and acrylics away.


Two mediums are available to overpaint with oils: glazing medium and oil painting medium. They are interchangeable and can both be used.

Glazing medium dries quickly and allows working for a short time (it starts setting after around one hour). In the other hand, since it dries fast, allows painting several layers of colours very easily. Day after day, you can add as many layers as you like, until you are satisfied with the final result: amazing to create a thick fur effect!

Oil medium dries slowly and allows more time for painting. It’s ideal for a typical class painting session: we can work as wet on wet technique for the day.

We can use the same brushes to overpaint with oils, and borrow some from the floral and landscape technique:

  • Wildlife Bristle ½”
  • Wildlife Bristle ¾”
  • Wildlife Detail nr 2
  • Wildlife Eye Brush
  • Wildlife finisher nr 6
  • Wildlife finisher nr 8
  • Wildlife fur brush ½”
  • Landscape 1” and ½”-3/4” Floral can be used to paint the background, glaze colours or to paint fur as well
  • Liner brush is used to paint whiskers

To the range of soft floral colours already available, seven new colours have been created to unable us to paint fur and feathers. They are:

  • Burnt amber
  • Burnt sienna
  • Raw amber
  • Warm white
  • Yellow ochre
  • Indian yellow
  • Transparent black

We have available a complete palette of colours to paint any animal we like!

You might find easier to start painting the eyes, so that you can rest your arm on the canvas while doing so, and just carefully avoiding them when covering the rest of the canvas with the medium (or you could use glazing medium to paint the eyes and wait until is dry before proceeding: find the best suitable way that works for you!)

You can see the step by step method used to paint the eyes in the picture:

    1) Paint the iris with Indian yellow mixed with a small amount of yellow ochre with a finisher brush
    2) Add some burnt sienna to the upper half of the eye
    3) Lighten the Indian yellow- yellow ochre mixture with warm white and paint the reflected crescent with the detail brush. You can add the wagon wheel at this stage, either with the detail or eye brush. Clean the pupil with a finisher brush and darken it with ivory black on the detail or eye brush.
    4) Add the secondary highlight with a mixture of Prussian blue, transparent black and warm white on the detail/eye brush
    5) Add the primary highlight with titanium white on the detail brush.

Different types of fur are created with the different brushes available: we can refer to some animals painting project to learn different type of fur. Short fur like in the squirrel project (and you will be surprised to realize that we can add the feather effect on the owl in the same way!), medium fur like in the wolf project, long fur like in the lion project, spots like in the jaguar project, stripes like in the zebra project…………….

Painting animal with Bob Ross Wildlife technique is a very rewarding experience! Once again, remember: this is Bob Ross Technique, you can paint too!