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Drawing Birds

Updated on December 2, 2011

Knitting Nest

A yellow bird was constructing her nest. By Charles Roring
A yellow bird was constructing her nest. By Charles Roring

Two Birds

Composition watercolor painting of birds with a bay and mountains as the background. by Charles Roring
Composition watercolor painting of birds with a bay and mountains as the background. by Charles Roring

Birds are beautiful creatures that are worth drawing

In my previous article, I discussed about drawing human face and drawing dolphins. Now I am going to talk about how to create artworks especially drawings of birds. Birds are beautiful creatures. They often become drawing objects by both amateur and more experienced artists. To draw birds, you need to have good observation and memory in capturing the images of birds and the details of the feather tail, wings and beaks and then deliver them on to your drawing paper in the form of sketches. If your hobby is bird watching then you will not find difficulties in sketching the basic shapes of birds on paper. The proportions of head, and wings should be good in order to get a perfect drawing that looks similar to the real bird in his or her natural habitat. Bird watchers use telescopes and binoculars to watch birds dancing, singing or twittering in tall trees.

Take bird pictures from nature as your reference

Birds in their natural habitat are difficult to be drawn. I have tried drawing birds many times in the forest but I always fail because they are fast and fleeting. The best and the easiest way to draw birds is by taking some photographs of them and then redraw them based on the photographs as my reference. Except if the birds are in a cage, when drawing them live, I never try to draw the details before I finish the basic shapes of the bird(s) that I am drawing.
I use Staedler Mars Lumograph 100 2B pencil to make sketches of birds. The heads of the birds generally have round or circular form. Their bodies are oval and their feather tails are similar to small angle or sharp triangle. From my personal experience, I draw and then paint birds (using Derwent watercolor pencils) using the following steps:

  • First, draw the head of the bird,
  • Second, draw the body (its shape can be a circle or oval shape)
  • Third, draw the feather tail
  • Fourth, draw the legs and beak

When all of the major parts of the birds have been drawn, the next step is correcting the proportion of them before continuing to sketching the detail of the claws, eyes, markings in the plumes of the body and the wings and shades of the neck and thighs.
Birds that I draw are mostly stand on a wooden twig with some green leaves. Depending on their species, birds can have long, short or long and wide beak.
When I have finished sketching the bird(s), I can draw their surrounding environment such as trees, branches of trees, or even flowers. I know that some birds like to drink nectar (or honey) of certain species of flowers whose taste is sweet.
When I feel that I have finished sketching and correcting the proportion and shapes of birds and their surrounding environment, I continue to the next level of finishing my artwork i.e. coloring.
I color wider areas that have light tone to smaller areas that have darker tone. When I use watercolor pencils, the shades that I create can then be smudge by rubbing the surface of the hatching with hands or soft cotton. Most often I use slightly wet brush to create wash and shade effects on the surface of the body and wing of the birds.
After first attempt, I might feel that my drawing of the birds does not look beautiful as I had expected. Anyway, I don't worry about it. Most artists used to feel the same way as I do. After a lot of practice, I see that my drawings are getting better.

Bird life from environmental perspective

Birds play very important role in the environment. They eat fruits from the trees and disperse them everywhere. As seed dispersers, birds help expand the area of forest. A lot of birds are now facing distinction due to intensive hunting. Traditional people hunt birds for their meat but now they hunt them to be sold to big cities where wealthy people will buy them as pets. In Asia bird nest from swift is a very expensive commodity which is believed to have medicinal merit in curing various diseases according to traditional medicine. The hunting of birds in the forest should be stopped because they are vital to our environment. No birds means no forest. Therefore, we must protect them so that our forest will continue to exist and help us in neutralizing CO2 that we emit every day. By understanding the important roles of birds in their natural habitat, artists will be able to appreciate them more in their artworks. by Charles Roring

Also read: Bird watching in Aiwatar Hill of District Senopi


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      Orlando 3 years ago

      Kristof raises the same issue that the Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and even Sarah Palin have raiesd. Crony capitalism is the problem and it needs to be fixed. The problem is that the solution to the problem is hard to grasp. I think fundamental tax reform would be a step in the right direction, but it wouldn't be the only step we need to take to get rid of crony capitalism.

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      jj 6 years ago

      where are the birds

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      jj 6 years ago