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Draw a realistic Fantail using pencil

Learn how to draw a bird using sketching, tone, texture and fine details in this easy to follow course
4.5 (77 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
5,399 students enrolled
Created by Joe McMenamin
Last updated 2/2016
  • 1 hour on-demand video
  • 2 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
Make a realistic drawing of a bird
Use basic shapes to work out the proportions of the bird
Feel in or sketch the bird from a photograph
Add tone to the drawing to make it look more three dimensional
Use fine details to bring out the textures of the feathers and the other details of the bird
Understand how contrast helps you to draw the viewers eye into the area of the drawing you choose the be the point of impact
View Curriculum
  • You will need several pencils including HB, 2B, 4B and 6B, and eraser, a craft knife and some drawing paper.

Have you ever wanted to make a realistic drawing of a bird?

This course will teach you all of the steps you need to follow to make a freehand drawing of a beautiful New Zealand bird, the Fantail. We will be using a range of pencils and other drawing materials to produce this drawing. We will cover the following sections in this course:

1. Preparing for the course by selecting your tools and photograph

2. Sketching the Fantail's proportions and features

3. Adding tone to make the drawing appear more three dimensional

4. Adding fine layers of tone to start to understand light and contrast

5. Adding texture to bring out the beautiful feathers of the Fantail

6, Adding fine details to make Fantail appear more realistic

By taking this course you will develop a strong understanding of the drawing skills and techniques needed to draw a realistic looking bird. This knowledge can then be applied to any bird or animal you choose to draw.

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is best suited to students who have had some experience drawing and have a basic understanding of using a pencil to create tone and shading. This is not an absolute beginner course, but I believe that anyone would learn more about drawing birds by taking this course.
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Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 20 Lectures Collapse All 20 Lectures 01:12:57
Preparing for the course
3 Lectures 05:28

In this lecture you will hear about each stage we will cover over the whole course, and what the final outcome will be. I have included the original photograph of the bird and the final drawing as downloadable materials so you can save them to your computer, or print them out for your reference.


In this lecture I will talk about how to select a good image. One that has a high resolution and a good range of tones from drawing. I will go over why I chose this image of the Fantail. I will also talk about copyright and how to find an image you are allowed to use.

Selecting your image

In this lecture I talk about the tools needed to make this drawing. They are a range of pencils, and eraser, a craft knife and good quality paper. At the end of this lecture students will know what equipment they need to complete the course.

Selecting your tools
Starting the drawing
2 Lectures 12:43

In this lecture I will demonstrate how to draw basic shapes to get the proportions of the bird down on paper. This is an important stage for making sure all of the parts of the Fantail are in the right place and to scale. You can use your pencil as a reference tool to check the angles of lines between the photograph and your drawing.

Drawing proportions with basic shapes

This is where the sketching of the Fantail happens. I like to call this style of drawing "Feeling in". It involves using light lines to feel where the parts of the bird are, sometimes rubbing out and re drawing sections to get them looking right. At the end of this lecture you will have the basic drawing of the Fantail.

Feeling in or sketching the Fantail
Using tone to make the Fantail appear three dimensional
3 Lectures 10:10

Using the 4B and 6B pencils we will lay down a base of tone in this lecture. You will be looking at the photograph to work out where the light and dark areas of the drawing are. We also talk about the difference between subject tone (how light or dark parts of the bird are naturally) as well as light source tone (which direction the light is coming from).

Thinking about subject tone and light source tone

In this lecture you will add tone to the whole bird. It will start to look more three dimensional. You will be able to watch me do this and copy the techniques I show you.

Tone on the Fantail

In this lecture you will go through the same process with he branch.

Tone the branch
Adding the fine tones to the drawing
4 Lectures 17:30
Fine tone on the fantail's face

In this lecture you will add the fine tone to the wing of the Fantail using a 2B pencil.

Fine tone on the Fantail's wing

In this lecture you will add the fine tone to the tail of the Fantail using a 2B pencil.

Fine tone on the Fantail's tail

In this lecture you will add the fine tone to the branch using a 2B pencil. I will talk about how to leave some white space for the natural moss and lichen of the branch.

Fine tone on the branch
Adding texture to the drawing
2 Lectures 08:33

Adding the texture to the drawing will help to make the Fantail look more realistic. Especially the feathering in the head and body. When drawing the small marks for the feathers be sure to keep them moving in the direction they are shown in the photograph. You can also add tone by bunching the texture closer together for darker tone, and spreading it out for the lighter tone.

Texture on the Fantail

The natural bumps and rough texture of the branch will be demonstrated in this lecture.

Texture on the branch
Adding the fine details
5 Lectures 18:06

The fine details are what make this drawing more realistic. Having a sharp pencil and taking your time will help you achieve good results when completing this lecture. As we work on the details over the next few lectures, try and think about what you want the focus point of the drawing to be. This will be the area with the highest contrast.

Fine details on the wing

In this lecture I will continue to demonstrate how to add the fine details to the Fantail. We will be focussing on the tail.

Fine details on the tail

In this lecture I will continue to demonstrate how to add the fine details to the Fantail. We will be focussing on the feet.

Fine details on the feet

In this lecture I will continue to demonstrate how to add the fine details to the Fantail. We will be focussing on the beak.

Fine details on the beak

The eye is probably the most common focus point for any drawing of an animal or bird. We look to see the intelligence of the creature in the eye and we can also use some good contrast to help with this too. I will demonstrate how to add a small bright reflection in the eye to make it look glassy.

Fine details on the eye
1 Lecture 00:27

In the conclusion we look back at the photograph we started with, and the drawing we have at the end. Give yourself a pat on the back for completing the course. I hope you enjoyed it and learnt something new.

About the Instructor
4.5 Average rating
157 Reviews
6,502 Students
3 Courses
Artist - Illustrator - Teacher

Joe McMenamin is a painter and printmaker and the flowing organic patterns that ripple through his works have won him a following throughout New Zealand. Joe has a bachelor of media arts from the Waikato Institute of Technology. He teaches Art part time at Naenae College in Lower Hutt, Wellington. Joe loves teaching Art, and gets lots of the ideas for his work through interactions with his classes. His students also experience first-hand the different processes involved in his prints, drawings and paintings.
In Joe’s latest series of nautical themed screen prints his detailed drawings are screen printed as a ship and anchor or a deep sea diver. Joe then carefully drops coloured powdered dye pigment in the midst of the image, and the colours splash across the print, making each one bright, exquisite and unique. He finishes the print with some hand drawn pattern to represent the water.
Joe’s recent paintings depict a range of subjects painted directly onto the medium of plywood - it is a natural medium that attracts him and he makes the frames for each piece by hand. He is interested in New Zealand native birds. Joe skilfully paints these birds directly onto the plywood, which gives them a raw quality and showcases his photorealistic painting technique. He often applies a layer of Danish oil overtop, which brings out the grain of the wood and the jewel-like paint colours.
At the end of 2015 Joe resealed the NZ Native Birds adult colouring book. It was a great success with the first edition of 500 books selling out in 2 weeks. The second edition is available in the shop. He has a number of exciting projects happening this year, including video drawing and painting courses on Udemy, a mural, the Christchurch Art show and many more.

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