Have you ever wanted to learn how to draw a bird? Who wouldn’t? They are majestic and beautiful. And there are so many variations. You could draw a different bird every day, and it would still take months to run out of various types.
Besides the joy of creating a lovely picture, there are additional benefits to this particular type of art project.
Benefits of Drawing Birds
When first learning how to draw a bird, there’s a lot to look forward to—deciding the types and colors of birds, for one, and figuring out how best to capture your subject.
Are they a cartoon? Out in the wild? In your pet shop or living room? Will you need a screenshot or a photograph? Good memory or a comfortable place to sit while you draw from life?
But there are many benefits to picking up this skill, too. Here are several significant rewards to adding this skill set to your life.
- Promotes relaxation by causing you to slow down and pay attention to nature
- Helps you learn to become more patient as you study details and learn to hone your craft (It may even help you develop more patience in other areas of your life)
- Provides an opportunity for self-reflection
- Makes you pay more attention, both to details in general and to the beauty and wonder of nature around you
- You can sell your artwork or use it to raise awareness about endangered species. Or maybe both
- Allows you to connect with others who are also nature lovers, and perhaps more nature artists
Tips for How to Draw a Bird
Now that you know the benefits of drawing birds, here are some tips for being successful at the task.
- It is recommended to prepare your original idea on a separate piece of paper from your finished project. That way, you can revisit it in the future without having to start all over.
- Use basic simple shapes for your preliminary sketch. These include circles, squares, triangles, and columns.
- Focusing on the eye will bring a level of realism to your drawing that nothing else will. Using a technical pencil, you can even create a reflection of the bird’s surrounding area in the eye.
- Lightly sketch the body, then add shading with ticks and hash marks.
- Add colors in strategic locations only, rather than coloring in the complete form of the bird.
Supplies You Need for How to Draw a Bird
Are you looking for an expert on nature drawings? The Audobon Society provides a comprehensive list of what tools you need to start drawing birds.
The first thing they suggest is a lightweight shoulder bag. Since you will likely be drawing from life, your bag must be easy to carry. It also needs to be easy to manipulate, which is why a shoulder bag works better than a backpack. The last thing you want to do is scare off your subject while searching for your supplies.
You also need sketchpads. Audobon recommends avoiding spiralbound versions since the pencil can smear when the pages rub together.
Next, you need your pencils. A non-photo blue pencil is essential, but a whole box of colors is not. Bring only the colors you’re most likely to use – “process red,” “true blue,” “canary yellow,” and a handful of muddy browns, grays, and greens. Band them together and store them in a box, so the tips don’t break while you’re porting them.
Binoculars are not required, but they are highly recommended for studying the details of the birds you hope to learn and draw.
One thing notably missing on the Audobon list is erasers. It is generally highly recommended to bring a kneaded eraser, a Tombow Monozero eraser, and a Staedtler Mars retractable eraser.
A battery-powered, folding task light for sketching later in the day than you planned is also suggested.
Ways of Shading a Bird Drawing
You’ve packed your supplies, studied the birds you want to draw, and started on your task of creating basic shapes that you can turn into a bird with some time and effort. But what about those feathers?
And the different colors, textures, and variations that come with drawing anything natural, you need to understand how to shade the birds you’ve drawn.
- Hatching – Creating thin lines that run perpendicular to one another
- Overlapping and Layering – Putting smaller items in the background and larger ones in the foreground will emphasize the appearance of depth in your drawings; in the case of birds, this can be done with feathers
- Cross-Hatching – Similar to hatching, but the lines here cross at angles
- Chiaroscuro – A technique first developed in painting that has been adapted to use in other mediums that involves establishing a clear delineation between light and dark spaces in your artwork
- Levels of Saturation – This is just what it sounds like: the darker sections of your work will appear denser, adding depth and texture
- Cool vs. Warm Colors – Dark and warm colors appear closer to the eye than those that are lighter and cooler; if you are using colored pencils, you can add shading and depth this way
Easy Steps for How to Draw a Bird
If you want to create a simple, traditional bird, you can do it in just a few steps.
Step 1: Start with circles
Draw a small circle at the upper right of the page and a larger one in the middle.
Step 2: Add curved lines
Draw curved lines connecting the two circles to form the neck of the bird. Draw two more extending from the lower circle to create a tail.
Step 3: Draw the beak
Draw a long, thin triangle from the bottom of the upper circle, and separate it with a line to create the bird’s beak.
Step 4: Add the eye and some feathers
Add an eye to the upper circle and some feathers to the lower one. Some simple scribbles can serve as feathers if you’re still learning and honing your skills.
Step 5: Draw the legs
Draw two long lines from the lower circle that will form the legs.
Step 6: Erase any unneeded lines
Erase any lines you no longer need from the original circles. If you’re afraid you’ll erase lines you wanted to keep, you can trace over the permanent ones with a pen before erasing
How to Draw a Bird: 15 EASY Drawing Projects
1. Watercolor Birds
Deep Space Sparkle has a great project for your middle-schoolers. It walks them step-by-step through how to draw a bird and then add watercolors.
2. Bird Variations
KidsArtNCraft has several drawing projects for kids who want to learn how to draw a bird. There’s the upside-down bird, the peacock, the hen, and her eggs, the bird with an insect, and a crow, drawn all in one single stroke.
3. Hummingbird Drawing
i heart crafty things has a project that walks you step-by-step through drawing a hummingbird, one of nature’s most majestic animals. It’s just ten simple steps, including adding colors at the end.
4. The Flaming Phoenix
If you’re looking for something elaborate, Drawing for All has a tutorial that will teach you how to draw a Phoenix, the mythical bird that rose from the ashes to be reborn.
5. The Bluebird
Hello Artsy has a super simple bluebird drawing tutorial for grade schoolers that’s just six simple steps.
6. How to Draw a Cartoon Bird
Want something a little less realistic and a bit more fun? Try this cartoon bird drawing from Easy Drawing Guides.
7. How to Draw a Bird on a Branch
This less realistic version from Drawing Tutorials 101 lets you add more nature to your bird drawing.
8. How to Draw a Bird in a Cage
This is another not-so-realistic bird, but outside its natural environment. You can complete this project from Drawing How Tos in only seven simple steps.
9. A Heron
This one is part of a series by Smart Kids 123 that crafts birds using only straight lines, making the project easy for even the least skilled artist out there. This might just be the place to start if you’ve never drawn a bird before.
10. Bunches of Birds
My Site 42 has a slew of birds for you to try your hand at – ducks, chicks, swans, ostriches, and many more.
11. How to Draw a Bird for Kids
This drawing how-to is a wonderful option for your littlest artists. First Cry Parenting walks you and your kids through the five easy steps you need to complete this bird drawing, color, and all.
12. An Angry Bird
This how-to is for all you video game fans out there. If you are looking for a way to replicate your favorite Angry Bird, this tutorial from Coloring Cool will teach you exactly what you need to do.
13. A Sandhill Crane
An Art for Kids Hub video will teach you all the steps you need to know to complete a beautiful and realistic sandhill crane. All you need is a Sharpie, a pencil, an eraser, markers, and colored pencils.
14. How to Draw a Bird Wing
If you already have a handle on birds and you’re just trying to hone your skills, this tutorial from Drago Art will help you hone your skills by focusing on the specifics of a detailed bird wing.
Maybe you’ve even tried some of the other suggestions above and want to improve your ability to create details.
15. How to Draw a Singing Bird
This option is the most realistic of the bunch. You definitely want to try some of the other options above if you’re a novice at drawing birds because it is also the most detailed and complicated.
Design Tuts Plus will lead you through nine steps to draw this singing bird on a branch and another 11 to color and shade it so it looks like it was plucked off a branch outside your window and not drawn on one by you.
How to Draw a Realistic Bird Step-by-Step
If you’re looking for advice on how to draw a realistic bird, maybe no one is more capable of providing it than John Muir, known for his nature artwork.
By following the simple steps below, you could also perhaps one day become known for your beautiful and realistic nature drawings.
Step 1: Draw the bird’s body shape
Start with a line that indicates the bird’s posture. Add an oval around this line to form the body’s shape.
Step 2: Add a circle for the head
Add a circle at the top of your original line that will serve as the head. It can help to label your bird’s body like a clock and position the circle/head between 10 and 12.
This will help get your dimensions right from the beginning because it is difficult to make changes once details are added.
Step 3: Draw a line for the bird’s beak
Add a line in the middle of your circle for the beak.
Step 4: Add a line for the tail
Add a line from the upper center of the oval for the tail.
Step 5: Connect the lines and circles
Add slopes and angles, connecting the lines and circles.
Next, draw a line up from the bottom of the wing, keeping in mind that the “wrist” of the bird will be in a different position if the wing is extended or drooped.
Step 7: Add a line for tail feathers
Add a line perpendicular to your tail line to use for the tail feathers
Step 8: Draw the feet lines
Add two lines at the bottom of the oval that will form the bird’s feet.
Step 9: Add feathers
Add the feathers to the basic bird shape you created above. Studying birds can help you determine where there should be feathers and where there should be skin on your bird.
Step 10: Shade and color the bird
Shade or add colors according to preference.
How to Draw a Bird FAQ
Is it hard to learn how to draw a bird?
Drawing birds can be difficult, as they tend to move a lot, making it more challenging to observe and replicate how they look. Despite this, it is possible.
The Audobon Society recommends studying pictures, working with simple shapes first, and spending a lot of time practicing. Over time your efforts will make you more successful.
What does a bird symbolize in art?
According to Street Art Museum, birds symbolize several different things in the art world. Ideas birds have come to be known for in art include freedom, nobility, fertility, and bravery.
Birds also have cultural meanings, so those viewed as a good omen by one group may be considered evil by another.
Why would you need a bird drawing?
Having bird drawings can bring the outside in or remind you of moments you spent in nature. Teaching yourself or your children to draw birds can help engage the imagination, develop or hone fine motor skills, and make you a more reflective person.
Creating a drawing could be far more valuable than simply having one.
How to Draw a Bird Conclusion
There are many things you need to know when you’re learning how to draw a bird. Not the least of which is what kind of bird you want to draw.
There are cartoon birds and realistic ones, ones in cages, and ones on branches. Some of these decisions will be based on your skills and abilities. Or, at the very least, your patience at learning new skills.
You also need to decide which tools to use. Recommendations range from paper, which every one of these tutorials lists as a requirement, to the more obscure suggestions, like binoculars.
Carrying cases are recommended, either for a camera to photograph the birds you’re looking to recreate later or the paper you’re going to use to draw them onsite.
Of course, this will be unnecessary if you favor the cartoon or video game variety. But no matter what type of birds you want to draw, hopefully, this article has given you some tips and tricks to help with the process and some opportunities to practice your skills.
One thing remains true across all the tutorials, tasks, tips, and practice opportunities. Though artists’ abilities will vary, everyone is capable of learning how to draw a bird if they’re willing to put in the time and effort.