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Drawing birds is a really fun way to become a better observer and to notice more details. It helps you to see the bird from a different perspective and focus in on key features and body positions. Learn the process taken by Megan Hiebert when sketching a Black-capped Chickadee and/or a Chimney Swift and create your own masterpiece.

Introduction: Why sketch birds?

Drawing birds is a really fun way to become a better observer and to notice more details. Megan Hiebert shares why she sketches and demonstrates 6 steps to drawing a Black-capped Chickadee.

Lesson 1: Basic shape and posture

Megan Hiebert demonstrates how to use basic shapes to outline the bird. She shows how to use the bird’s head to proportion the body circle and demonstrates how to indicate a posture line.

Lesson 2: Getting the proportions right

Megan Hiebert uses the chickadee’s head to measure other body parts to make sure the bird is proportioned correctly. She uses tick marks and lines to indicate the position of body parts.

Lesson 3: Giving the bird an outline

In this step, Megan Hiebert demonstrates how to carve in angles to make the bird look less round. Key features are also outlined.

Lesson 4: Indicating feather groups

In this step, Megan Hiebert discusses feather groups and how to “suggest” feathers rather than drawing each one individually.

Lesson 5: Removing unneeded lines and adding detail

Megan Hiebert demonstrates how to erase all unneeded lines and to lightly shade in the dark areas. She starts adding in feathers around the outlines.

Lesson 6: Adding contrast and fine details

In this final step, Megan Hiebert builds upon the areas already shaded. She notes that you should always start light and go darker, as it’s easier to darken than lighten. She demonstrates how to add in details.

Lesson 7: How to draw a Chimney Swift

Chimney Swifts are amazing little birds that nest and roost in chimneys and eat insects while in flight. Unfortunately, Chimney Swifts are a Species at Risk in Canada and many people don’t even know they exist. Join Megan Hiebert (Ontario Aerial Insectivore Coordinator for Birds Canada) at home as she walks you through the basic steps to draw a Chimney Swift. Reference photo copyright George Armistead; source: Birds of the World, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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