10 Tips for Drawing Birds

BirdBannerI am very fortunate to be teaching Scientific Illustration at the UFL. UFL is the 3rd largest University in the USA.  It has vast resources of natural science collections within the different disciplines as well as being the home of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Each semester I bring my students behind the scenes and we draw from a variety of the collections.

While teaching I am constantly reminding my students that they should:

Draw from life….. and…… Your finished drawing is only as good as your foundation drawing…. so make it as good as you can.

I repeat these statements over and over……. so how do you apply this to drawing birds? Birds are present in our everyday life. Even in the most crowded cities, birds mingle amongst us in city streets, in parks, in our backyards and on roof tops. But how do you capture an accurate drawing of bird if you don’t work from a photo? Here are some suggestions:

  • Visit a zoo- Birds in cages will not fly away and you can observe their movements and see how they perch and posture.
  • Visit a museum- Find the nearest museum and see if they have an ornithology collection you can draw from.
  • Visit a nature center- They often have taxidermy specimens.
  • Visit a Nature Park- Here in Florida there are parks that specialize in rookeries where you can observe them closeup without cages.
  • Visit a taxidermist- I have a friend who is a avian veterinarian. She loaned me the Toco toucan skeleton to draw!!!!
  • Find a local bird club- There a bird clubs everywhere and people have exotic birds in their home…… you might get to draw someone’s pet Amazon Parrot!
  • Visit a pet store- Some pet store specializes in birds.
  • Find a breeder- They have tons of birds in different phases of life….egg, hatchling, fledgling, adult.
  • Get outdoors and observe how they interact with one another, fly , land , take off.
  • Learn anatomy- Draw skeletons, wings, beaks and feet as studies in a journal.

Here are 2 excellent books I recommend for your art library:

Do you have any methods for drawing birds? Don’t forget to share this blog post or Pin-it on Pinterest!