I am presently working on a portrait of an emu....
It is being done on a 24" x 30" canvas. I am using Createx Wicked acrylics, which I apply using a airbrush and traditional brushes.
First, I triple primed the canvas to give it a smother finish. I do not use gesso for this, I use flat white acrylic undercoat. It's cheaper to buy and just as effective. I tinted the primer with a few drops of yellow ochre acrylic paint before applying it.
I then airbrushed a simple, stylised background, using colors that are indictive of the emu's habitat.
The pen wash sketch.
Once that was done, I projected a pen wash drawing I did, on to the canvas, and then sketched in the drawing using a water color pencil. Water color pencil is ideal, as you can easily cover it with acrylics.
I started with the eye... I alway do the eyes first in a portrait... I helps to maintain the perspective of the work. I also started rendering the beak. At this stage, other than the eye, all the colors here, are base under painting.
Here I have rendered the top of the beak and then mapped out more of the subject, using under painting. A few of the hairs/feathers were also rendered, to help with the proportions.
At present, it all looks a bit hit and miss, but it will, hopefully, make more sense as I progress.
The golden rule is to alway have the final image fixed in your mind as you go.
A long way to go yet....