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Feather Painting Tutorial by Novawuff Feather Painting Tutorial by Novawuff
Finally!

If this still leaves questions, go ahead and bounce them off me and I'll do my best to answer...

don't tell me if I spelled or typo'ed anything though, because i'll just smack you ;}

a few more notes about acrylics, for those who are new to the medium..
there's stuff you can buy to mix them with to extend the drying time or to increase transparency without making them all runny, but I only ever used just plain ol' water. When you're blocking your colors in, just use them straight to get the quickest buildup. Once you've moved to your details, mixing them with a little water to thin them down makes it a lot easier to work them into tiny spaces. Don't overload your brush, and make sure to clean it every time you switch colors.
Since acrylics are plastic, my favorite pallete is just an old bucket lid. Once they've dried, they peel back off and you can use it over and over... acrylics dry awfully fast, but if you need to save your color blobs, you can slip the whole thing into a big zip-loc bag and it'll keep for a few days. I discovered one day that the plastic from the bag and the plastic from the lid actually brought some of my dried paint back to life, which I didn't think was possible with acrylics, but there you go!
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:iconperegrineflight:
PeregrineFlight Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2015
soooo helpful! Thank you!!!
Reply
:iconravencry:
ravencry Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Thank you for the very informative tutorial, I love the fact that you use laymans terms that I can easily understand. I have never painted a feather (successfully), but I bead the shafts of the feathers and wanted to add a better focal point rather than just the beads.
Reply
:iconsolwol:
solwol Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2014
Brilliant, step by step.  Gonna have a go now.
Reply
:iconfeatherpainter:
featherpainter Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2013
I paint on feathers also, I agree with Nambroth. I like my feather looking natural. During the painting process I use packing tape on the back of the feather, when I am done painting I  pull it off very slowly. Everyone has their own way of doing things, this is just what works best for me.
Also, Canadian Geese and the Sand Crane are illegal to paint on. 

Reply
:iconimalwaystired:
imalwaystired Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I have a few questions! So if we were to glaze the feather, we would mix water and gloss to be able to spray? Or we could just paint the backround a solid color?? I love your feather painting and hope to do one soon!
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:iconburrumgirl:
burrumgirl Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2013
Excellent tutorial, thank you so much. Just love your paintings too, thank you.
Reply
:iconkitrei-sirto:
Kitrei-Sirto Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
this is cool, ive just discovered this and its cool so i tried it ^^ its fun, although my painting isnt as good as yours but its still good
Reply
:icono0moonlight-sonata0o:
o0Moonlight-Sonata0o Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Student Artisan Crafter
Awesome painting! Random question, do you think you could paint the entire feather?
I'm making black angel wings for a costume, and, having to drop $100 on 2 lbs of black feathers, I want to be able to reuse them. However, the other wings I'm looking at making are white with pink tips. Is there any way that something similar to this would work?
Reply
:iconbazardelanature:
BazarDeLaNature Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
awesome tutorial thanks you so much!
Reply
:icontreekami:
Treekami Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
this is perfect! I want to start painting on feathers and this will help me big time. thank you <3
Reply
:iconliliaceaetigrinum:
LiliaceaeTigrinum Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2012
I JUST discovered this method of painting and I have to admit I am enthralled! I recently started experimenting in acrylics and want something unique to do but not something that is going to drain my pocket dry. This tutorial is exactly what I was looking for. It's simple, I did like seeing the pallette lol, and left me with very few questions. I do want to ask what the fixative is that you use to hold the feather still. Is it something like hairspray? Or is it more of an actual artistic spray that must be bought?
Reply
:icondacrap:
dAcrap Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011
Where do you buy your feathers?
Reply
:iconwafflemuncher:
wafflemuncher Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2011
This...I will try...It will not be nearly as...amazing...as your work...but you have inspired me! :D
Reply
:iconfire13:
Fire13 Featured By Owner May 7, 2011  Student General Artist
I've only seen two other feather painting tutorials on here but I think yours makes the most sense to me. For someone that has worked with acrylics very little, you do a great job of explaining how the paint will act on the feather and how to build it up. As for preparing the feather, I haven't found anyone who explains it like that and I think you have e best way of doing it. I work with feathers a lot and sometimes spray them with fixative just to make them easier to use so it makes sense to do that before painting them.

Thank you for putting up this tutorial, it really is very helpful. Definate favorite.
Reply
:iconjustjingles:
justjingles Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
You may have just saved my painting class grade. Thank you.

does this work with oil paint?
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:iconnovawuff:
Novawuff Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2011  Professional General Artist
augh just realized i never replied. oil paints will work if you use them over the top of an acrylic base layer. i've tried using them right on top of a raw feather and the oil vehicle from the paints seeped into the feather barbs and made an oil stain halo around the colored paint part. it looked awful and ruined the feather ;P
but on top of acrylics should work.. the acrylic will seal the feather and act like a gesso to build the oils onto :}
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:iconyvonnifhang:
YvonniFhang Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I have a huge collection of feathers at home.... This makes me want to experiment... ^^
Thanks much for the tutorial.
Oh, and by the way, all your art is AWESOME! :aww:
Reply
:icongreanbean101:
greanbean101 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2010
Great tutoriel thanks :D
Reply
:iconxhorsexgleekx:
XhorsexgleekX Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2010
How do you suggest I start feather painting? I have no idea where I'll get the real feathers...
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:iconnovawuff:
Novawuff Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2010  Professional General Artist
most of mine are turkey.. if you don't know anyone who bird hunts, you can get them at craft stores, and also order them online. lemme see if i can look any up real quick...
okay, first result in google for "turkey feathers"
[link]

looks like it woudl be a good place to start..goose feathers also work well. i've seen some really neat one were folks took 2 or 3 flat feathers (so, a turkey tail feather, but not any kind of wing feather) and glued them together on the back, fanning them out a bit like a deck of cards..
[link]
like that! so if you can't find any feathers big enough for what you want to paint, you can always use more of them...

there's some really dumb laws regarding which bird feathers are okay to keep and which ones aren't.. but you're always safe with game birds, which are any of the ones that you can shoot during hunting season. :}
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:iconxhorsexgleekx:
XhorsexgleekX Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2010
Thanks :) I'll be sure to try it!
Reply
:iconastalicia:
astalicia Featured By Owner Sep 11, 2010
I need to try this one day ^^
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:iconpixelguru:
pixelguru Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2010
Sweet -- thank you! :D
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:iconbabbletrish:
babbletrish Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Wonderful! I've always wondered how these were made. Thanks for making this!
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:iconwolf-in-spirit:
wolf-in-spirit Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2010
WOW great tutorial! great advice! thanks for sharing!!! :headbang:
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:iconwol4ica:
Wol4ica Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Awesome, always wanted to know, how is it done. Thanks for that!
Reply
:icondarkdyami:
DarkDyami Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2009
OMFG THANK YOU! So much I been looking for about 1 hour now on the web, and everyone starts out with their feathers already sticking together and I have been trying to find someone who says how the hell do the feather stick together while paints. Thank you so much! If I have any questions when painting my Feather do you mind if I note you about them?
Reply
:icongosia2903:
gosia2903 Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2009
I see that it heavy work painting such miracles. How many painted you but?
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:iconwildwolves:
wildwolves Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2009
so do you use spray paint or what do you use and also would hairspray work to keep it together?
Reply
:iconpitchblackdragon:
PitchblackDragon Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
That's a awesome tut you made here ^^
Does it work to fix it with some kind of hairspray too??
Reply
:iconnovawuff:
Novawuff Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2009  Professional General Artist
i dunno... never tried it! i would have to guess that it would work for awhile, but probably not last as long as a laquer spray :P (since hairspray is meant to be washed out in a day or two...)
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:iconpitchblackdragon:
PitchblackDragon Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
hmmm yeah but as for the time I draw on the feather it could
be enough. I better just try it and if it doesn't work I'll try something else ^^
Reply
:iconolvium:
Olvium Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2008  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you very much for the great tutorial, the fixative spray was very useful tip. Well done! :nod:
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:iconblood-of-anubis:
Blood-Of-Anubis Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2008
im going to go try this now, but one question....

i cant find a shop in my town that sells gloss or fixative spray. so would hairspray work the same way?
Reply
:iconnovawuff:
Novawuff Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2008  Professional General Artist
ummm... I'm not sure, actually.. I'e never tried hairspray.... try it!
Reply
:iconwendybazuta:
wendyBAZUTA Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2010
I know this comment is a bit old that I am replying to but I just wanted to say to anyone reading down these comments to be careful when using hairspray as a fixative for your art work because as time goes by it can go kinda yellowy.
Thanks for the tut btw! :D
Reply
:iconalhattal:
alhattal Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2008
Wow! u r really good! Do you have to use those fixy spray things , or the shiny stuff?? Coz i don't have any of that ind 2 b honest, *whisper* i am not that keen on buying it...although! Do u think fimo gloss stuff will work?? Or if u dont know that, nail varnish??:? i dunno but i'm gonna give it a try anyway!!!
Cheers for putting up a tuto. and it would be fantasticotional if u could answey my quesies!!
Thanks again!
Jessi
Reply
:iconludicrouslouisa:
ludicrouslouisa Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2008
I've had the feather mites too :S
That sounds great! Only problem is that I don't have any fixative sprays..
I'm not sure what the laws on feathers are in Australia, but I think they're a lot slacker. However, we have much stricter laws of import of non native species..hence it's VERY hard to buy an exotic parrot here.
I have a lot of cockatoo, magpie and chicken feathers..cocky feathers would be nice to try - they're a lovely clean white with a bit of lemon yellow.
Thanks for making the tute :D
Reply
:iconquicksilverraye:
QuickSilverRaye Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2008
That's quite impressive. In all my life I've never ever thought of feather painting. And you did a fantastic tutorial there. Very informative. I'm new to this form of art. But is there a way to fix mistakes of sorts? Can you spray fixative on the final product and it'll make it last? Just curious :D
Reply
:iconwolfa216:
wolfA216 Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2008
Do you think that painting the feather with an acrylic gloss gel medium would work instead of a fixative? Because thats all i've got for now, though i'm going to try and get a fixative sometime. :)

And btw what type of feathers do you usually use? :?
Reply
:iconmonoguru:
monoguru Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2007  Professional General Artist
well, in asked before and here is the answer, thanks!
Reply
:iconbaphita:
Baphita Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2007
Es muy impresionante: ojalá pudiera hacer algo así.
Reply
:iconskullmage550:
skullmage550 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2007
Thank you so much! I was looking for one of these. I have been asking many people these 4 questions...
1. What kind of feathers do you use.
2. Where do you get your feathers?
3. What kind of paint do you use and what brand?
4. How can you stop the things coming out from the shaft (don't know proper name) from splitting? Is there a technique or practice?

Now I can stop looking for people! Thanks again!! But can you answer #1 - 2 for me?
Reply
:iconnovawuff:
Novawuff Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2007  Professional General Artist
welllllllll anything big.. sandhill crane, turkey, and occasionlly candada goose..

although you probably won't be able to get the sandhill crane ones :P
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:iconskullmage550:
skullmage550 Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2007
Okay, thanks! :D
Reply
:iconlilmillie:
LilMillie Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2007
THATS SO COOL! i wanna do something like that *searches for feathers*
Reply
:iconnaurok:
NauroK Featured By Owner May 21, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
I've been wondering this for a long time now >w<. I thought it would be sooo much harder then this! But it seems pretty easy, I'll try it once I can find a feather o.O.

Do you have any were certain you get yours?

Anyways awesome tut! Thanks for making it ^^.
Reply
:iconfrescafrostbringer:
FrescaFrostbringer Featured By Owner May 15, 2007
Whooopeee, I just love this^^ Now my aunt has to give me turkey-feathers, then i can start xD Thank you for this great help, wuff
Reply
:iconlavonne:
lavonne Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
lol! i know i have asked some tips from you before, this actually helps a ton to see it. thanks!
Reply
:icongryphonflight:
gryphonflight Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2007
i was wondering if you could tell me what kind of spray you use for keeping the feather together, i hope it's not a trade secret cuz i wanna try, but i wanna make sure that i do it right. ^ ^
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