Tutorial on How to Draw a Bird

Every single bird -- from soaring eagles to cooing doves, strutting peacocks to showy flamingos -- share a few common traits. And it's not just feathers and a beak. Bird-loving artists know that the secret to drawing realistic birds is to master a few basic shapes. By learning how to "find" the bird on the empty page, you will be using a basic technique that even Audubon himself used for his masterpieces. With a bit of practice, your drawings will take flight in no time.

Things You'll Need

  • Drawing paper
  • Pencil
  • Eraser


    • 1

      Lightly sketch the outline of an egg, or oval, horizontally across the sheet of paper. This is the bird's body.

    • 2

      Sketch a circle which overlaps the egg. The circle should be about one third the size of the egg shape. This is the bird's head.

    • 3

      On the side of the circle which faces away from the egg, sketch a sideways, or horizontal "V," with the open side facing the circle. You have just created the beak.

    • 4

      Add an eye at the open end of the sideways "V" by making a small, dark circle. Fill in the circle completely with your pencil.

    • 5

      At the end of the egg shape opposite the head, draw a fan shape to create a tail. Make the fan point downward if drawing jays or similar birds, straight up for birds like wrens.

    • 6

      Now that you have your basic shape laid out, carefully erase the lines of the circle, or the head, which overlap the egg shape, or body, of your bird.

    • 7

      Sketch a wing on the side of the egg, by drawing a simple, upside down arc.

    • 8

      Fill in the wing with a pattern of overlapping "U" shapes, similar to shingles on a roof.

    • 9

      Add feet at the bottom of the egg shape by drawing two upside-down stick figures similar to rakes.

    • 10

      Go back over your drawing and add any details or shading that you want, such as additional feather shapes on the tail or atop the head.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't worry about getting the bird to look perfectly at first. Go over the bird and make changes, or start all over again.
  • Draw from nature itself by viewing photos of birds, or directly observing birds at the park or your back yard.
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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

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