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Easy Rainbow Bird Painting For Kids

Use our simple bird drawing tutorial to help you create fun color wheel or rainbow cartoon birds for your next elementary art project. This easy cartoon bird art project is perfect for kids in 1st and 2nd grade.

rainbow cartoon bird drawings on table.

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We love using watercolor paints with kids. From glue resist painting ideas to beautiful fall paintings, watercolor paints are one of my favorites. Learn how you can make “faux” watercolor paints using washable markers in this fun lesson.

Before You Begin

This Peep video is an excellent 8-minute video to introduce color theory to young children. They will giggle and laugh the whole time while realizing that you can mix certain colors together to get new colors.

You also can share this quick color wheel video to help tie it all together.

Recommended Supplies

  • Heavy Drawing Paper or Watercolor Paper
  • Pencil
  • Washable Markers: We always have great success with these fun markers and kids love using them.
  • Watercolor Paint or Bleeding Tissue Paper
  • Permanent Black Marker
  • Small Paintbrush
watercolor paints, washable markers, black permanent markers and water cup on table.

What size paper is best for this project?

We have done this project with 12″ x 18″ heavy white drawing paper or a long strip of 9″ x 24″ watercolor paper. If using the long paper, you will draw your six birds in a row and if using rectangular paper, kids can draw 3 on top and 3 on the bottom.

3 different papers with different cartoon birds drawn on them.

Ways To Add Color

Once you have drawn 6 or 7 different birds, you will work on adding color to the background. We have done this project with 6 and 7-year-olds in a few different ways.

If you draw 7 birds, then you will have ROYGBIV with indigo included. We normally only do this project with 6 birds. Kids understand that you are making the birds the primary and secondary colors or ROYGBV (no I included).

Background Options

blue, purple and pink wet tissue paper on white paper.
Wet bleeding tissue paper on white paper makes an awesome background.

Color Options Inside The Birds

  • Watercolor paint
  • Tempera Paint
  • Color With Markers only
  • Washable Marker + Water On A Small Brush: this is a fun way to “paint” without as much mess. You need to test this method first to make sure that your markers and paper will bleed. Sometimes the combo doesn’t always work the best.

Our Favorite Way To Add Color

Our favorite ways to complete our color wheel birds are with watercolor or tissue paper backgrounds and washable markers with water for inside the birds.

The marker technique is a simple way to get kids “painting” without the hassle and mess of paint.

cartoon bird drawn on paper with watercolor paint and marker inside.

Easy Color Wheel Bird Cartoon Tutorial

Step 1: Draw 6 Birds

Use our bird cartooning drawing step-by-step guide to draw 6 large birds across your page or in two rows. Encourage the beginning circular shapes to be drawn largely.

hand drawing cartoon birds on art table.

Art Teacher Tip: Encourage children to add their own unique characteristics and details to their simple cartoons. You can show them different ideas & details by demonstrating how to change the egg shape, but they don’t need to follow you exactly step-by-step.

Step 2: Outline Birds With Permanent Black Marker

Erase any extra pencil lines for a neat drawing before adding color. By outlining drawings, you are able to see the bird details better.

cartoon birds on white paper with watercolor paints on table.

Step 3: Add Color To The Background

You can see the above options for ways to do this. Here we are painting water over bleeding tissue paper. We will let it dry before taking it off for a fun sky effect. Try not to get the color inside the birds.

hand holding paintbrush adding purple watercolor paint to background of bird painting.

Step 4: Let Dry

Once the background is complete, let them dry before moving on to the colors inside the birds.

Step 5: Add Color Inside Birds

We like to make these birds in the order of the rainbow or with primary and secondary colors like a simple color wheel. Kids can color the beak a different color of their choice.

birds outlined in rainbow colors with watercolor background.

If using the washable marker technique, trace inside the black lines with a washable red to start. Add enough marker so that when you add water with a small brush it turns into “paint”.

cartoon bird with green marker turned paint inside it.

Important: Test this first with your supplies to see if it will work.

Step 6: Let Dry

Step 7: Color Remaining Details

Use a marker of your choice to color details such as the beak or eyes to finish the painting.

cartoon art project for kids.

Art Lesson FAQs

Can markers turn into watercolor paint?

Yes, on the right type of paper water can be added to washable markers to get a watercolor paint effect.

Why won’t my markers turn to paint?

There are two main reasons you are unable to get your markers to bleed when adding water. You must use washable markers and the right type of paper. Watercolor paper will work and most heavy drawing papers. We recommend you test this technique out first before doing it with a large group or class.

What age is this free art lesson good for?

This lesson can be successfully completed with 6 and 7-year-olds when each step is broken into sections. The first day introduces the color wheel and they draw the birds. On the second day you paint the background and on the third day add color inside the birds.

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rainbow cartoon bird drawings on table.

Easy Cartoon Bird Art Project For Kids

Use this step-by-step tutorial to make rainbow or color wheel birds for your next art project.
Print Pin Rate
Keyword: bird art project for kids, cartoon birds, color wheel birds
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 25 minutes
Dry Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Author: Erin
Cost: under $5


  • Pencil
  • Paintbrush


  • Washable Markers
  • Watercolor Paint or Bleeding Tissue Paper
  • Permanent Black Marker
  • Heavy Drawing Paper or Watercolor Paper w


  • Draw 6 simple birds by drawing 6 oval or circular shapes.
  • Add eyes, beaks, wings and any other bird details.
  • Outline birds with black permanent marker.
  • Erase any extra pencil lines.
  • Paint the background of your project with 1 or 2 colors of watercolor paint. Leave the birds white.
  • Let fully dry.
  • Add color inside the birds in ROYGBV order. If using the washable marker technique, trace inside the black lines with a washable red to start.
  • Use a small paintbrush dipped in water to turn the marker into paint. Try not to get the "paint" inside the beak or eye.
  • Let dry.
  • Color other details such as the beaks with marker to complete the painting.


  • Washable Marker + Water On A Small Brush: this is a fun way to “paint” without as much mess. You need to test this method first to make sure that your markers and paper will bleed. Sometimes the combo doesn’t always work the best depending on your supplies.
  • Blue and purple bleeding tissue paper can also be used to create a fun background instead of watercolor paint.

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