Friday, 1 May 2015

How To Draw: Dawn Chorus Day Special

This Sunday is International Dawn Chorus Day, a day where you can wake up really early in the morning to listen to the birds wherever you are in the world. I can only but imagine what a dawn chorus sounds like in other parts of the world, but the chorus I have in my part of Norfolk isn't bad either. To celebrate this upcoming event, I am going to draw four of my favourite bird songsters that I have had the pleasure listening to.

Stage One
My first bird that I am going to draw is the song thrush. They are to me, one of the proudest of birds. Sitting atop of a tree, they belt out a series of notes three times before singing a completely different set of notes. They are quite loud that you could hear them for miles. To draw any bird, I make an oval for the body and a circle for the head. I'm also adding two lines to make a perch for the thrush to sit on and I have marked where the tail is positioned underneath.

Stage Two
I draw the basic structure of the bird next. This includes features like the eye, wing, feet and the bill. The bill is made of two triangles with a line along the top edge of the top mandible and another inside it. I tend to shade the outside parts of the bill to make it less confusing later. I draw a little bit of plumage detail on the head, but I leave out the spots for when I use the pen.

Stage Three
Now re-draw the outline in pen. Be careful when your drawing the bill, if you make a mistake there will be no going back (using tip-ex will ruin the drawing). I shade in the brown areas of the thrush and the branch. For the spots, start near it's head and work round the breast from one side to the other in an upside down 'U'-shape manner using various sized blobs or spots. For a song thrush, you need to space out the spots a bit, while mistle thrushes are more compact.

Stage Four

Colour in your thrush with chestnut brown. I also use yellow on the breast for depth to show up the thrushes rounded shape. To finish off, I colour the inside of the bill orange with a hint of yellow.

Stage One
Wrens are small birds with a big, powerful voice. The song is loud and rapid with a trill at the end. A walk out in the woods or local park will guarantee you with many singing wrens. To draw a wren, a smaller oval and circle is used along with a triangular shape for it's cocked up tail. I'm also drawing a stump for it to sit on.

Stage Two

As before, I draw everything in pencil first. I redefine the body shape, add in the features and detail and shade in the wing, tail, the stump and parts of the bill.

Stage Three

After re-drawing the outlines, I lightly shade in the dark areas of it's plumage and shade in heavily on the stump.

Stage Four

You might notice a pattern with the songbirds that I have selected so far. They are both brown. The best songsters are often brown. With a powerful voice to attract the ladies, who needs to be colourful. The only part that isn't yellow is the inside of the bill, which is yellow.

Woodpecker Basic Shape
My next bird doesn't actually sing (and it isn't brown either), it is a percussionest. I love rock music and I love a good drum solo too, so you can't get a better drummer in the bird world than a woodpecker! In the UK, the commonest of our three woodpecker species is the great spotted and are the ones most often heard in any woodland. Drumming is the woodpeckers replacement to singing and acts in the same way, to claim a territory and attract a mate.

The basic woodpecker shape is a circle and an oval with a triangle at the rear. The bottom half of  the body is drawn close to the bark of the tree, while the upper half is away from it.

Woodpecker Pen Stage
With your pencil, make a long pointed bill with a triangle and from the base, draw in the black strap across the head and round to the top of the head. If you want to draw a male woodpecker, leave a patch at the back of the head (which will be red). Then devide the body to make a large wing and add two horizantal bars at the bottom and a large vertical blob shape at the top. Draw a line just over half way down the breast and draw in a leg with two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backwards on the trunk.  The tail rests against the trunk. Re-draw in pen and heavily shade in the black areas and lightly on the bill, legs and the trunk.

Woodpecker Colouring Stage

Colour the bottom half of the woodpecker red as well as the patch at the back of the head if it's a male (females don't have it). I lightly shade the breast and head brown. The eye is brown. The legs and bill are grey. I add green on the bark for moss and use the pen to create a feathery texture.

Nightingale Basic Shape

I would be mad not to draw the greatest of British songbirds, the nightingale. If you are lucky to hear one, it will never be forgotten. It is loud, diverse and moving. It is difficult to really explain how it sounds like in words, so I recommend you go look it up later. Drawing a nightingale is similar to when I was drawing the song thrush earlier. Circle for the head, oval for the body but with a long, rounded tail hanging under the perch.
Nightingale Pencil Stage

Just like before with the thrush, draw in the main shape of the bird and add the features such as the wing, eye and bill. After adding a bit of detail, re-draw in pen.

Nightingale Colouring Stage

As typical of great songsters in the bird world, nightingales are brown. The head, back, tail and the top half of it's breast is chestnut brown, while the chin and the rest is light brown with grey over the top of it. The inside of the bill is yellow.

I hope you have enjoyed this weeks How To Draw and enjoy the dawn chorus on Sunday. My alarm clock will be ready for it and I will tell you all about it afterwards. What is your favourite bird song? Leave me a comment below.

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