They all help your understanding of the shape of the bird, in deciding what to put in and what to leave out in your drawing, and when you have learnt to do this you are well on the way towards "seeing properly" and therefore drawing properly.
I say "well on the way to," because of course there is a lot more in drawing such beautiful creatures as birds than noticing a few dry scientific facts about their construction. But you will understand by now that with these facts in your head you are far better equipped to draw birds in all their charm and grace of movement, in all their subtlety of line, than if you were without such knowledge.
I do not suggest, however, that you set yourself the 'task' of learning anatomy like you would a lesson at school, for drawing is not a subject that can be taught like a school-room lesson — it is a subject to enjoy, and you will soon discover what an exciting adventure it will become.
So refer to the anatomical part of this book, just when you feel the need to — look for the things I have pointed out on the birds themselves. Look and observe — look and observe and draw — and draw — and draw again. That is the way, the interesting way too, to learn. Each time the bird moves start a fresh drawing. You will find that the bird will often take up a former attitude again and you can resume drawing on any of your studies at once.
You will learn far more about birds in this way, and produce drawings that are more interesting — that look alive. If I were you, I shouldn't use a lot of elaborate shading, at least not to start with.
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Try looking hard at the bird and noticing what are the main lines of a pose and put them down in free, long strokes. It will surprise you how a few lines can suggest such a lot. I have tried to show you in some of my own studies how a few lines are sometimes all that is necessary to hit off a pose.
Did you realise that every time you look at the bird and then look at your sheet of paper and make a line you are using your memory? To start with you will only remember a little for a very short time, but as you get to know more and have more practice you will find yourself able to remember a lot more for a great deal longer. It is this ability to memorise which will enable you to draw birds in action, especially in flight, when 'sight' drawing is out of the question.
So practise memory drawing a lot: it will help you to remember important things. Sometimes, of course, you will come across birds at rest or asleep — perhaps basking in the sun. Cormorants and shags often stand motionless with wings half-outstretched, as though it were so much washing hung out to dry! Details such as beaks and feet, and particularly eyes — should be seized upon for study.
An outstretched wing of a basking bird presents an opportunity for solving the problem of its foreshortening. For rapid sketching it doesn't matter what you draw with — whether it be pen, pencil or chalk — it is the "rightness" of what is put down that matters. The drawings reproduced in this book were done, for the most part, with a carbon pencil on cartridge paper — but any paper will do. It is only by experimenting with different mediums that you will find the one which suits your own personal taste. Now I am going to talk to you about what is really the most important thing in any drawing.
It is what artists call "Feeling. In short, you show evidence of using your imagination. When you draw an eagle, try, in imagination, to be an eagle — you are the claws that grasp so firmly — the hooked, cruel beak, and the unquenchable fire that is the sheathed and stabbing glance of the King of Birds. If you can do this, almost unconsciously this will show in your drawing and make of it a work of art, a thing of beauty. This "feeling" is really the emotion you feel — that peculiar, unexplainable tightening inside that makes you want to laugh sometimes, sometimes to sing and dance for joy, and sometimes just be a little sad.
This is the most important thing of all to cherish, so do not pore over this or any book over long — Rush out into the sunshine — Art does not grow in dusty rooms and is not to be found by searching through books by learned men. No, it is under the great arch of heaven in the pure and sparkling air, through which on wondrous pinions fly the birds we draw, and you in your imagination can fly with them into what unknown and pleasant regions of the mind, to that perfection of Beauty towards which all art aspires.
You all know that a bird comes from an egg, and consequently a baby bird is shaped rather like an egg too. Indeed the bird's body retains this egg-like form even in the adult bird. Of course there are variations in shape adapted to the different species' mode of living. For instance, in the gulls and herons it is elongated, whilst in others, the small perching birds particularly, it is rounder. A bird's body is built like our own on a bony framework. Although most of the bones correspond to ours they have become welded together into one solid framework.
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It has far more bones in the neck than we have, which gives the bird a far more flexible neck than animals or man. The skull is nearly all eye-socket, and you will notice that pigeons, ducks, sparrows, etc. In the drawing of the bird's bones, the black parts, i. The body is, as I have said, built on a solid bony framework. This I have shaded in grey. Over these bones the wing-muscles and feathers are placed in such a way as to form what is known as the camber of a bird's wing. You will realise this when looking along a bird's open wing, as in the little sketch of a heron flying, it will be seen to curve upwards, umbrella fashion.
If you push an open umbrella up and down quickly you will find it much easier to push it up than down because the camber of the umbrella seems to grip the air on the downward pull. This is roughly the principle that enables a bird to fly. On page 9 is a view of a bird's wing as seen from above. The feathers are grouped in clearly defined masses. Into the long finger or "hand" of the bird are fitted the first flight feathers or primaries, usually 10 in number.
From the forearm grow the secondary flight feathers, usually about 12 or 14 in number. The other groups serve to streamline the wing, build up its camber and give support to the flight feathers. The underside of the wing is supported in the same manner. At the junction of the wing and shoulder are a clearly marked group of feathers called the scapular. These feathers in most birds are quite large and besides streamlining the lines of the wing to the body they also cover the junction of wing and body when the wing is folded in the resting bird, preventing moisture from trickling down inside.
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The diagram shows you how these groups arrange themselves when the wing is folded. This arrangement of feathers is the same in all birds, although the relative proportions of the various groups may differ. You will see from my diagrams that the feathers overlap each other and all point one way.
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They act like the tiles of a roof for draining water off. You will see in the drawing of a feather that the quill or central rib is not in the middle. This is because this particular feather is a flight feather and it is only the flight feathers which have the quill in this position. In the overlapping of the feathers, the broad edge is underneath so that a wing looked at from above shows only the narrow or 'leading' edge of the feather and from beneath only the broad or trailing edge.
This is a very important thing to remember when drawing birds in flight, because when the wings are pressed down, the "trailing" broad edge of the feather is pushed tightly against the next feather. On the upstroke however the broad ends trail downwards, making gaps between each feather through which the air can pass: it is by the power of resistance to the air of the downward stroke that a bird can haul itself up into the sky.
The drawings of a heron and a gull flying show this principle at work. Continues… Excerpted from "Drawing Birds" by. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc.. All rights reserved.
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Overview Throughout history, people have been obsessed with bird imagery, from carvings on the temple walls of ancient Egypt to modern-day murals, posters, and even tattoos. This helpful instructional volume by a renowned artist and teacher offers a wealth of well-illustrated advice on depicting all manner of birds. British illustrator Raymond Sheppard was celebrated for his nature and animal studies, and this book combines two of his most valuable guides, How to Draw Birds and More Birds to Draw Suitable for beginners as well as advanced artists, this single-volume edition of Sheppard's two great guides provides in-depth studies of the shapes and visual construction of a variety of birds, from domestic fowl to birds on the wing.
Topics include anatomy; the representation of wings, feathers, and flight; and details for drawing beaks, feet, and plumage. Common birds such as thrushes, redwings, blackbirds, and starlings appear here, along with many other species, in addition to ducks in and out of the water and birds of prey such as the barn owl, buzzard, and golden eagle. Written with clarity and infectious enthusiasm, Drawing Birds offers an abundance of pointers that will benefit amateur and professional artists alike. About the Author British illustrator Raymond Sheppard — was celebrated for his drawings of nature and animals for books and magazines.
He published three art instructional books with Studio Publications and is perhaps best remembered for a edition of The Old Man and the Sea, which he co-illustrated with Charles Tunnicliffe.
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