This tutorial explains how to draw a bird from the side view in six illustrated steps. It may be particularly helpful to beginner artists that are looking to practice with something fairly easy to draw.
The bird we will be drawing for this tutorial is a robin.
Step 1 – Bird Body Proportions
Start your drawing by estimating the overall proportions and shape of the bird’s head and body. You want to have the largest and most important shapes first.
The reason to do this is to avoid making mistakes like one part of the bird’s body being out of proportion compared to another. It can also save you having to backtrack more than you need to in case you do make a mistake.
In this case the body will be significantly larger than the head. The head will very loosely resemble something like an egg. The body will have a larger curve at the bottom with a flatter back.
Step 2 – Bird Wing & Tail Proportions
Add the rough shape of the wing and tail onto the sketch of the bird’s body. When folded the wing will have a rounded base (about half the body in width) followed by a cone like shape getting narrower towards the tip. Draw it accordingly.
Draw the tail a tiny bit wider as it gets away from the body followed by a rounded tip.
Step 3 – Beak & Feet Proportions
Once you have sketched out the major shapes of the body you can move down to the smaller parts such as the beak and legs.
Draw the beak with a pointy tip and it’s inner shape sort of “cutting” into the head for about 1/3 of its length.
When drawing the legs keep in mind that the back leg will be partially hidden behind the front leg. The back leg should also be drawn slightly smaller due to perspective.
For an explanation of perspective drawing see:
The base of the legs will have some tiny feathers around them going down to the joints. Draw these areas thicker than the rest of the leg as sort of angled letter “U” like shapes.
From the joint down to the toes the legs are pretty much straight. Draw that part of the front leg with two parallel lines and show part of the back leg with just one line.
Generally birds have three toes on the front of the leg and one on the back. In this case the far forward facing toe on each leg will be hidden behind the other toes so you can only show two per leg.
Step 4 – Eye & Details
Add the eye and other smaller details of the claws on the feet.
Draw the claws growing from the upper/front part of the toes with two curved lines for each toe. These lines should join at the tips.
Draw the eye slightly to the left of the head and add a second shape around it that basically traces the shape of the eye (kind of like an outline). This will indicate the bird’s eyelids.
Step 5 – Feather Proportions
Once you have drawn out all of the the body parts create some construction lines to define the different sets of feathers. In this case you only need two lines on the body and three on the wing.
Step 6 – Line Drawing
Now in the different sections of the body defined by the construction lines draw the various sets of feathers as shown in the above example.
After you are done with the feathers erase the construction lines and finish the bird drawing by going over it with a darker/more solid lines.
You can also fill in the eye with a solid black/pencil color but leave a tiny oval shaped area white for the highlight.
This is a fairly simple tutorial that can help you create a nice and detailed drawing of a bird. If you are a beginner it can also help you learn to draw in the right way by working from the larger proportions down to the details.
For more similar tutorials check out:
- How to Draw an Eagle Head Step by Step
- How to Draw a Horse From the Side View Tutorial
- How to Draw a Sitting Cat Front View – Step by Step
- Dog’s Head Front View Drawing – Step by Step
For more advanced bird drawing tutorials see: