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

Photograph of a Feather

Photo: Daiga Ellaby

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:

Anatomy of a Feather

Diagram: Arizona State University

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.

 

Anatomy of a Feather

Diagram: Arizona State University

 

Next: How to draw a feather step by step.