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How to Draw a Feather (In 6 Simple Steps)

How to Draw a Feather Simple 

Here is our post on how to draw a feather.

Drawing a feather can be a great place to start for beginners, but you have to remember to work lightly and first draw an accurate feather outline before working on the details. 

A drawing, especially a feather drawing, doesn’t necessarily look like anything great in the beginning stages. This is known as the ugly duckling phase of a drawing.

A drawing doesn’t truly start to look good until you start to build up the layers and begin adding details in the form of varying textures, shades, and highlights. 

This feather drawing guide is meant to be simple and easy to follow.

In fact, we have even included it on our list for the best drawing ideas for beginners

By working lightly and first achieving an accurate centerline of the feather and outline of the barbs you can then work on adding the details to the individual strands

Please see the below section on other drawing tips before moving on to the step-by-step on how to draw a feather.

Table of Contents

    Materials Needed to Draw a Feather in Pencil 

    Before you begin, make sure you have the proper materials first:

    • 2B/4B/6B Pencils
    • Kneaded Eraser 
    • Blending Stump (Tortillon)
    • Feather Reference Image

    You’re gonna need three different types of pencils, all with varying shades, to help make your feather look realistic. A kneaded eraser (an eraser that you can shape that whichever way you like) will also help with erasing and creating highlights.

    For blending, you’re gonna need a blending stump.

    If you don’t have one on you, a cotton swab will do just fine. Try not to use your fingers as they don’t really blend that well (and if you’re using thin paper, you’ll most likely end up tearing the paper).

    You can also make your own blending stump. Here’s how:

    How to Make Your Own Blending Stump

    Lastly, a reference image. Although a feather is a fairly simple object, you’re still gonna need a guide to help you figure out how to draw the feather accurately.

    A Simple Step-by-Step Guide for Drawing a Feather

    1. Draw Center Shaft Line

    To start with, draw the center shaft line. This is basically the “spine” of the feather. It starts out thick at the bottom and gradually becomes thinner as you go along the top. Make sure to add a slight curve as feathers are never truly straight.

    2. Draw a Light Outline of Feather

    Next is to draw the outline of the feather. Basically the overall shape of the feather.

    3. Section off Parts of the Feather Barbs

    The third step is to draw the feather barbs. Feather barbs are small strands sticking out of the main “spine” of the feather. By sectioning off the feather barbs, you’ll have a clearer idea of where to draw the rest of the feather strands.

    Try to block off large sections of the feather that are different shades before moving on to the details. By doing this you can section off parts of the feather that are lighter and darker. This will help your overall sizing, and composition, and help with recreating an accurate drawing off of your reference image.

    4. Working from Top to Bottom of the Feather, Add Strands

    Up next, you’re gonna wanna start adding feather strands. Because you’ve already drawn a light outline of the feather earlier and added the barbs, adding the strands should be easier. Start at the top then work your way to the bottom.

    Take one of your darker pencils then draw in the strands. Don’t worry about the highlights just yet as you’ll fix them with your kneaded erases. Just focus on filling in the barbs with individual strands of feathers.

    5. Add Strands of Dark Lines and Highlights

    Now you have the strands filled. Time to add details to make the feather look more realistic. Begin first by adding highlights.

    Highlights on a feather may vary depending on the artist. Some choose to make the lightest part of the feather at the very top and some choose to add highlights in between the stands to make the feather look glossy. Personally, I find the highlights between the strands a lot more realistic so we’ll follow that.

    With your kneaded eraser, gently start erasing the middle part of each barb. Make sure you don’t accidentally erase the corners like the outer edge of the feathers or the ones connected to the spine of the feather.

    If you find that you can still see the strands you’ve erased even after you’ve erased them, that’s totally fine. As long as it isn’t too noticeable, it adds to the realism.

    Next, add dark lines between the strands. This gives the impression that the strands are sticking together which makes it even more realistic. Just make sure not to add too many as it’ll start to look overexaggerated.

    6. Add Shadow Underneath Feather

    Lastly, add a shadow underneath the feather to really seal in the realism. Use your blending stump or whatever blending tool you have to create a realistic shadow.

    Drawing Tips to Keep in Mind

    • Use a high-resolution image of a feather for reference
    • Work very lightly in the beginning, especially when drawing the center line and outline of the feather
    • Work from light to dark
      • This means starting with using light strokes and then bringing in the darker shades/colors (darker pencil marks are more difficult to erase than lighter ones)
    • Work from largest to smallest
      • This means focusing on drawing or outlining the largest shapes of the entire drawing first then begin working on the details after you feel you have reached an accurate outline
    • Try to get your outline as accurate as possible before moving on
    • Don’t worry if you’re drawing doesn’t look good in the beginning, a drawing usually only starts to look good when you begin adding details, darker tones, and highlights
      • Building up layers, adding contrast, and adding details are what make drawings look realistic and alluring
    • Don’t be afraid to erase large sections of your drawing or start over entirely
      • If you ignore something that doesn’t look right and move on to the rest of your drawing you will be more unhappy with your finished drawing as opposed to taking the time to backtrack and fix it immediately
      • Plus you may base other proportions, sizing, and details on that error or incorrect piece of your drawing
    • Take your time and have fun (a finished, detailed drawing can take several hours so enjoy the process and happy drawing)

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How to Draw the Feather Shape

    Feathers come in different shapes. Some are shaped like an upside-down eggplant, some have a sharp tip, some look like a leaf, and some are simply round.

    Getting the exact shape of a feather may be difficult but we recommend doing a couple of outlines of the centerline and contour of a couple of feathers to warm up until you get a shape that you like.

    How to Draw Feather Strands

    To draw strands of a feather, focus on fluid, flowing pencil movements while considering contrasting textures, shades, and sizes. It is also helpful to start by blocking off large chunks of light and dark strand sections.

    Don’t try to draw them in quick strokes like you would normally for hair. Quick strokes tend to give you less control of the lines. To draw feather strands, you need control to make sure the strands are following the shape and outline of the feather.

    What Are the Simple Steps to Drawing a Feather

    To summarize, here are the simple steps to draw a feather:

    Start with the center shaft lineThis is the “spine” of the feather and will Set the baseline for drawing the rest of The feather.
    Lightly outline the shape of the featherBy outlining the shape, it’ll be easier to add Barbs and strands
    Block and section feather barbsSectioning feather barbs will help the overall Composition.
    Add strandsDraw them in fluid movements using a light Pencil so you can erase them late for Highlights
    Add dark lines and highlightsThe dark lines and highlights help make The feather more realistic.
    Add a shadow underneath the featherTo really make the drawing pop, add a shadow Beneath the feather.

    Thanks for reading!

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