Have you ever wanted to try your hand at painting some silly and whimsical cartoons? If the answer is yes, you're in luck because we’re joined award winning cartoonist Mark Brewer in his FREE Live Demo on inking a llama and going over it with watercolour to make it pop!

Step 1: A Quick Sketch

First things first – find some watercolour paper. Hot press is slightly better in this case because inking will be smoother, but you can work with cold press too, which I have done. 

Next, using the reference of some funny llamas, do a quick sketch of your cartoon. Pay special attention to the llama’s long eyelashes, awkward mouth, and splayed legs. You can exaggerate these features to make the animal look even sillier.

Mark recommends keeping it simple because you can always tweak stuff later when inking. He added a spittoon for fun - llamas are known to spit when angry!

Step 2: Inking with a Flexible Nib

Next comes the inking. While I don’t have access to Mark’s fancy pen, I have Etchr’s fountain pen, which has a slightly flexible nib to get thick and thin lines. I filled it with waterproof fountain pen ink, which you’ll need if you plan on painting over it with watercolours later.

Vary your line width, and be sure to add the llama’s curly chest hair. Keep your lines loose and erratic for a whimsical feeling. Make any adjustments needed to your drawing to get a good balance between detailed areas (i.e. more focus) and not-so-detailed areas (i.e. things in the background).

Mark uses a small brush here to add thicker lines in ink, though this depends on whether you think your drawing needs it.

When you finish inking, let it dry before moving to the next step.

Step 3: Adding Watercolours

Next is the fun part! You can pre-mix your watercolours to get blue for the sky, yellow and burnt sienna tone for the llama and spittoon, green for the grass, and a darker brown for shadows. You can also mix burnt sienna and ultramarine blue for a lovely grey.

Starting with the background, add a quick wash of clean water before adding a bit of blue for the sky (a.k.a. the “wet-in-wet” technique). Here, I am using the Etchr Gouache Brushes, they are extremely soft and can hold a lot of water! I’ve left some areas white for clouds, plus you don’t need to paint the whole sky – just make sure to focus the colour around the llama.

Next, add your green to the grassy area. If your paper is still damp, the paint will bleed into your sky, which is actually fine (my paper dried too fast, so I don’t have that blending).

Again, keep your brushstrokes loose, and don’t worry too much about having left white areas. They help add charm to the overall painting!

Step 4: Painting the Foreground

When your background is complete and dry, move on to the foreground. For the spittoon, use yellow before dropping in some burnt sienna for the shadows.

For the llama, dilute your yellow/earth yellow for a pale undercoat. Then, start dropping in burnt sienna and some darker browns for the shadowed areas.

You can also use your mixed grey or indigo to paint the llama’s hooves and muzzle. With a darker blue, add a shadow under the llama and spittoon to give them depth. When you’re happy with your colours and have added some curly hair details for the llama, you can let the whole painting dry.

Step 5: Colour Pencil Details

Hang in there; you’re almost done! You can add some more fuzzy details on the llama and the grass with a few coloured pencils. You’re purely adding lines for extra details at this point, so try not to overdo it.

Mark suggests using a light blue coloured pencil to draw diagonal lines across the sky to add more movement and make it more visually interesting.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

For the finale, add darker shadows to the llama’s underbelly, then using an old toothbrush, dip it in your ink before running your thumb over the bristles, creating a fine splatter of ink over your llama. Then, go over your whole painting to see what final details it needs.

Once you feel you have finished your llama, go ahead and sign it! There you have it – a funny, silly cartoon llama with its trusty spittoon.

I hope you had a blast following along! You can follow along with Mark himself in his FREE live demo and see how he uses his cartoony style to make caricatures out of anything. If you want something more in depth, he can check out his Mini Workshop

Nicola Tsoi is a practising graphic designer and illustrator based in Hong Kong. She likes to watch birds do funny things, search for stories, and bake up a storm during her downtime. She keeps a pet sourdough starter named Doughy. 


  • Anna-Marie Ferreira said:

    Thank you. It’s beautiful and cute. You make it look very easy.

    September 20, 2021

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