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How to Paint an Elephant on a Page With Acrylic Paint

Mixing acrylic colors is the key to a natural looking painting.
acrylics image by Sirena Designs from Fotolia.com

An elephant with floppy ears, a thick trunk and small tusks will brighten any child's bedroom wall. With easy steps, anyone can draw an elephant, then fill in the large body with colorful acrylic paints. Add a few touches, and the elephant will stand proudly in the middle of a jungle with green leaves and a blue sky. Choose the size of the page you'll draw, sketch where the elephant will stand, and the rest will flow easily with a few guidelines.

Things You'll Need:

  • 1 Acrylic Paint Starter Kit
  • 1 Glass Bowl Of Tap Water
  • 1 8 Inch By 11 Inch Pad Of Acrylic Painting Paper
  • 1 Plastic Spray Bottle
  • 1 Pencil
  • 4 Paint Brushes, 1 Inch, 1/2 Inch, Small Rounded, And Small Angled.
  • 1 Pad Of Waxed Paper Palettes
  • 1 Damp Washcloth

6 Steps to Paint an Elephant in the Jungle Lowlands

Prepare a work area by placing plastic on a flat surface large enough for the paper canvas, paints, and palette. Lay all the items necessary to paint on the work surface, and place the bowl of water a safe distance from your blank page canvas.

close up of African elephant image by Deborah Benbrook from Fotolia.com

Use the pencil to sketch the outline of the elephant first. Draw 2 ovals overlapping, one larger for the body, and one smaller to represent the head of the elephant. Follow the basic outline of the picture on this page, and use a triangle to create the elephant's ear. Add the leg, trunk, tusk and eye to the sketch. Use the pencil to follow the horizon where the sky and lowland jungle meet. Erase any lines to keep the proportion of the elephant true to the photo.

Apply a teaspoon measure of blue paint and a small amount of white and mix on the palette. The color of the sky should be a pale blue when spread with a 1/2 inch brush along the penciled skyline. Make the paint even and follow the angled line, then rinse out the brush.

Choosing brushes with different tips, lengths and widths is important.
paintbrush image by Adam Borkowski from Fotolia.com

Apply a tablespoon measure of green paint to the palette. Use the 1 inch brush to spread a thin cover of green paint under the pencil line delineating the sky. Use caution when filling in the green paint, and follow the outside pencil lines of the elephant. Add water to thin the paint, or more green paint to thicken the consistency if necessary. Rinse out the brush. Place green paint with a touch of yellow inside the plastic spray bottle with enough water mixed with the paint to squirt color onto a blank palette as a test. Use the spray bottle on the painting to add a hint of sunlight to the green jungle. Add black to the spray bottle, retest on the palette, then apply to the painting to look like shadows.

Apply brown, white, yellow and black acrylic paint on the palette. Moisten the 1 inch brush with water, then mix brown, with a hint of yellow and white until the color is a light brown that matches the elephant in the photo. Fill in the parts of the brown elephant that will show after the green plants are placed around the elephant. Allow the painting to dry for an hour.

Add yellow and white paint with the brown to create the illusion of sunlight on the body of the the elephant. Mix black and the brown paint to create shadows on the elephants body. Make wrinkles on the elephant's skin and follow the underside of the elephant's ear. Use a few brush strokes using the brown paint to create the small building in the skyline. Combine yellow and white paint with a small rounded brush to make the tusks and elephant's eye. Use a bit of brown to dot the eye with color.


Use the small angled brush and brown paint to add branches to your green jungle. Use the small rounded brush and various shades of green to add tall bushes in the skyline and along the leg and body of the elephant.


  • Use paint in a well-ventilated area.

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