Step by Step How to Draw Birds

If you're interested in drawing birds but don't know where to start, here are two methods to help get you started. You may want to draw from a picture. Eventually, studying the skeletal structure of birds in general, and specifically the bird you want to draw, will be helpful but it doesn't have to be the first step.

The first method that you can use to sketch out a bird  is 6 or 7 steps long. I'll be drawing a goose.

The first step is to draw a circle for the head. Since this is the first step and you've drawn nothing else to compare this to, keep in mind that the rest of the body will have to be drawn in proportion to this circle, so don't make it huge if you want a small picture and vice versa.

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The second step is to draw a curved line for the neck and the spine. This begins at the back of the head circle. Many birds have curved necks that will have to dip up again for the back, so keep that in mind. Also, birds have fused vertebrae, called the pygostyle, which form their tail. Extend your line to consider this.

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The third step is to draw an oval for the ribcage. When I say oval, that is the general shape and not literal. Consider this step more of a rounded shape for the ribcage. Most birds are much fuller in the ribs in the front and taper off towards the back.

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The fourth step is to draw a triangle for the pelvis. The pelvis is your hips, so this is where the legs come from. The purpose of this step is not because you're going to be drawing their pelvis but because you'll need to know where the legs come from.

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The fifth step is to draw the legs (and wings, if they are extended or noticeable) as lines and circles. If you fold the shape you draw for the legs up, it should make a Z shape (the right way around if you're looking from the left, the wrong way around if you're looking from the right). It really depends on the type of bird, but many birds have a shorter first joint. You can draw the feet at this point, too, if you want, or you can wait until later.

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The sixth step is to draw the eyes and beak. It can help to sketch out the skull in its entirety, but don't feel like you need to if you have a good grasp on the placement of these things without doing that.

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The final step is to add detail. Add as much or as little as you want. I left the previous steps visible so you can see how it all comes together.

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This method is good for birds that have long necks, such as this goose. It also works well for birds that have bent legs, such as geese or ducks. Think of the kinds of birds that waddle. Their legs are bent and so using this method will help to draw them. Also, birds with long tails are better drawn this way because it helps to get the tail to extend from the back naturally.

Some mistakes to avoid are to make the legs out of proportion. After a while, you'll probably learn whether you err on the side of making them too long or too short, but just keep it in mind. Also, don't draw the back too close to the spine line. Birds have feathers on their backs which make them fluff up.

The second method is much quicker to plan out than the first. This is the "basic shapes method" (not an official name). It's likely you'll already be familiar with what this one is. To demonstrate, I'll be drawing a bird from a photo I took at the zoo. i have not a single clue what species of bird this is. If any of you recognize him, please comment down below.

I'll start in blue, drawing just a circle for his head, an oval for the rest of his body, and just two straight lines for his legs.

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Next, I've just taken my pencil and drawn in some details, using my blue shapes as a guide. Notice that I didn't only stick to tracing over them, particularly at the bottom. Also, I didn't add shading because I'm going to be coloring this one in and I can add shading with my colored pencils. If you want to stop here, though, you can obviously do that. This is your picture, after all, do with it what you want.

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And here I've completed coloring my picture. You can still see the blue guidelines under there, to show how the picture developed at each layer. If you're curious, I used Imperial Woodless Colored Pencils, which have nice pigmentation and quite reasonable blending.

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The "basic shapes method" is good for round birds, like this guy right here or robins or sandpipers or kiwi birds. It's also good for birds with short necks. Because this method doesn't sketch out the neck and spine, it counts on the neck not being very long or noticeable. Thirdly, this method is good for birds with typically straight legs. These birds may have long legs but they aren't usually bent or only one joint is visible from under the feathers.

We publish a blog every Tuesday and Friday. I hope you enjoyed or found this informative. Let me know what you think about this type of post in the comments down below and I might make another one if you liked it. Thank you for reading and, until next time, goodbye!

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