Learn How to Draw Feathers with This Step-By-Step Guide

Feather Drawing

Stock Photos from ldutko/Shutterstock

In the realm of drawing, there are a lot of popular subjects that you should learn. Feathers rank as one of these topics, and it should come as no surprise—there are hundreds of millions of birds in the world. If you want to start drawing these creatures, you’re going to have to become comfortable with sketching a lot of feathers.

When it comes to creating a feather drawing, the process is similar from bird to bird. Anatomy of a feather is one of the most important things to know, as is observing how this plumage is fashioned on a bird's body. To demystify bird drawing, we’re going to show you both elements.

Once you understand the structure of a feather and the steps for sketching one, you’ll be able to draw any bird you like. So, get your pencils and paper ready and check out our step-by-step tutorial.

Learn how to create a feather drawing in our step-by-step tutorial.


Anatomy of a Feather

An individual feather might seem simple, but they are a powerful force when banded together. In fact, there are 23 different uses for feathers on a bird's body, from flying to rain protection to keeping warm. Of course, not all birds use their feathers in the same way, and there are six styles of feathers the creature can have:

Here's the general breakdown of a feather. Notice that at its base is a hollow shaft called the calamus. From there, the center is called the rachis, and it holds barbs made up of barbules and hooklets (they cannot be seen without magnification). With the help of these tiny elements, they give the entire vane its shape.



Next: How to draw a feather step by step.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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