By Thomas Maxwell
A new year brings new challenges, but previous foundations are still around! Did you know that January 5th is National Bird Day? Celebrating this day is a drawing of the often-forgotten bird in Gibraltar, the sparrow! Here is a concrete guide to drawing a sparrow.
The biggest thing about birds is understanding the anatomy. Having wings, it is important to keep the wings at the same level, otherwise you’ll have two arms at different heights – imagine! Separate large chunks of light areas and dark areas with a mix of marks and the occasional bit of shading.
One of the key things I have found drawing birds is to not get caught up in all the detail. Birds have a lot of feathers…a lot. Most of them, very common with smaller birds, are matted together, making it hard to distinguish specific feathers, so adding in feathers is adding extra work for you! I always find the cross-hatching method works for feathers. Instead of shading, you draw lines close together and then keep switching the angle of the lines to create depth and shadow. These lines help with keeping some uniformity that you would often find with hair or in this case, feathers! With the rest of the body, shade the darker areas but applying more pressure with your pencil.
As you can see when you look into the detail it’s simple drawing technique. The white chalk can be applied in the lighter areas to give some depth to the piece, but don’t use too much otherwise it will look like the bird is flying right past a lamp! Try and keep the highlights in a particular direction to make sure the artwork looks realistic.
Keep building up the cross hatching in smaller and smaller areas and this will leave you with a finished piece. A lot of birds, like us, have similar anatomy, so drawing one will help you draw them all. Just remember to not get bogged down in the feather detail (don’t fall into that trap!). Use the white chalk carefully and lightly across the piece to create some opposition between the light and the dark. And don’t forget to keep an eye on the anatomy, which is most obvious with the wings –make sure they line up, otherwise your piece could lose some realism!
Keep up to date with Thomas on Instagram @thomasomaxwell or visit www.thomasomaxwell.com.