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Trying to Paint a Rhino

Share Your Story: Art Questions Answered by the Art Agony Aunt

By gillian

The Medium?

Acrylics or oils

The Problem?

I am trying to paint a rhinoceros and am having trouble with the skin texture and colour. I have used a mix of Payne's grey and raw umber in different shades for the dark areas and yellow ochre and a touch of alizarin crimson and some white for the areas in the mouth and around the eyes and ears... still not quite right? I know that for the wrinkles I can use darker paint (is that right?) but how do I get the texture look? I can only think of stippling. I haven't been painting for very long.


  • What technique should I use to paint the skin of the rhino?

Marion Boddy-Evans, About.com Painting, says:

I would add a dark blue to your palette, as mixed with raw umber it'll extend the range of colors and tones. Also try it mixed with the crimson for the deepest shadows.

Texture: it depends what you're after. If you're after the illusion of texture, then you do this through tone. Lighter tones appear closer and darker further away, and by make a pattern of tone you'll get a sense of wrinkles. Try to forget about painting "wrinkles" and look at your reference photo only in terms of light and dark tone. Paint the tones, and the wrinkles will appear.

If you want actual texture, bumps on the canvas, use thick paint or texture medium in addition to tone. Then the light falling on your canvas creates shadow too, adding another element to the sense of skin.

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