Drawing a cardinal illustration

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Work on a beautiful cardinal illustration made from irregular lines and a lot of passion! Using mostly simple elements, you will learn how to create this nice bird in just nine easy steps mostly filled with simple shapes, lines and plain colors.

Cardinals are beautiful birds that are easily recognizable. Filled with a bright red color, this cartoon bird also has large black patches around the eyes and long feathers on top of the head. Are you ready to work on this cartoon cardinal? Great! Let's proceed with the first step now! :)

Drawing a cardinal illustration

Step 1

It's a good idea to draw a simple template to begin with. These shapes will be used to trace the character so that we can end up with accurate proportions. First, draw a large circle to form the head and a long oval shape to create the body. 

Then, draw two more oval shapes to illustrate the wings. The legs, the feet and the tail can be made using small and long rectangles.

Drawing a cardinal illustration

Step 2

Now that we have a nice template to work with, let's draw the cartoon cardinal. In this case, I used mostly small curved lines to draw the animal. When you are done, you can erase all shapes created in the previous step (the ones in orange).

Drawing a cardinal illustration

Step 3

Excellent! The toughest part is already behind us. Inside the head, draw a large beak using a triangular line. Two small lines are added inside this beak as shown below. Finally, draw two large eyes using more lines made with pointed ends.

Drawing a cardinal illustration

Step 4

Around the eyes, draw a large patch made from a single line. As you can see in the illustration found below, this new shape is similar to the one used to represent a heart. Make sure that you leave enough room around (and inside) the patch to make this one easier to read.

Drawing a cardinal illustration

Step 5

It's time to make this illustration more ... colorful! Of course, a lot of red is needed when applying colors inside a cardinal illustration! For now, you can leave the eyes grey and the large patch found inside the head can be black. The beak and the legs must be yellow and orange.

Drawing a cardinal illustration

Step 6

In the previous step, all outlines (or strokes) were filled in black. Personally, I prefer to use various colors (dark ones) to make the image visually more appealing. For instance, you can use a dark red color around the body and the head since these elements are already filled with a bright red color.

Drawing a cardinal illustration

Step 7

To make this image more realistic (even if it's just a cartoon image), let's sketch some shadows inside the character. First, draw small shapes on the eyes and the pupils. Then, you can draw more shadows on the beak, the head, the body and the tail. Small circles colored in white can also be added inside the pupils and on the beak.

Drawing a cardinal illustration

Step 8

This cardinal illustration is nice, but let's add some texture to it. Inside the head, the body and the tail, draw small lines as shown below. You can make these lines slightly darker. The result can be seen in the next step since these lines are currently blue to help you visualize how they were drawn.

Drawing a cardinal illustration

Step 9

This is the final version of this cardinal illustration once all steps are completed. Pretty, don't you think? ;)

Drawing a cardinal illustration

A beautiful cardinal illustration that everyone will love!

These are all steps required to complete this lesson quickly and effectively. As you can see below, even if the cartoon bird is made from small pointed lines, it's still very easy to achieved. Have fun with this cartoon cardinal and don't hesitate to try more animals from the same series here! :)

Drawing a cardinal illustration


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