Learn how to create a nice bird drawing from sketching to a great vector illustration! I will show you how to sketch a simple cartoon character from scratch using only a few basic shapes and a couple of lines. Then, you will see how you could use a vector application to transform your simple pencil drawing to a colorful and bright illustration!
Fortunately, I have decided to use a simple design so that it would be easy for you to duplicate this tutorial as easily as possible. You will see that it is surprisingly easy to add depth to your character using only a few basic tips that are not too difficult to achieve.
Let's start with the sketching part of the drawing lesson. First, create a rectangle to represent the body of the cartoon animal. As you can see, this body is made of irregular lines. The vertical line on the right is shorter and the top and bottom part were drawn using a small angle.
Next, you can add a few details on your bird drawing like wings, the tail and a small triangle on top of the head to illustrate some feathers. Once again, notice how most shapes are not perfect, but rather irregular and more dynamic.
Once you are finished, you can proceed with more details like the beak, the eyes and the legs. I have decided to make the left eye slightly smaller than the right one to suggest that the character is not facing us (but rather looking on its right).
You can now add the pupils and remove a few useless lines on the top of the head and on the legs. The feet are now more detailed and the cartoon character is now done (at least for the sketching part of it).
Open your vector software and import your drawing (you can scan it first if it was done manually). Select the drawing tool and if possible, choose a line that is not 100% plain. In my case, I have used a line that is narrower on both ends. The body, for example, was done using two different lines.
Repeat the same process until your character is entirely covered with outlines. Some shapes are closed ones (with transparent fills) while others are simply made of different lines that are not connected with each other.
Great! Now create new shapes (with no outlines) and place these new elements behind the original outlines. In this step, I have created four shapes. One for the body, one for the tail and two for each of the wings.
Complete this step on your bird drawing by creating new solid shapes under the beak, the pupils and the legs. Nice job! We now have a very nice and colorful character, but we still need a few extra steps to add some nice effects like shadows and reflections.
Use the gradient fill tool to create a nice shadow on each shape (except for the eyes and the pupils). Notice that on all shapes, the bottom part must be darker and the top part lighter. Only the tail is made of a shadow that is darker on top.
Using the gradient fill tool to create nice effects is nice, but we can come up with something even more interesting. To simulate a stronger shadow on the wings, the beak, the body, the tail and the legs, create a few dark shapes and place them as shown above.
If you have access to a transparency tool (sometimes this one is part of the gradient fill tool), hide the top part of all shapes created in the previous step. Once again, this step is different for the tail since the bottom part must be the hidden one.
Since the light source is placed in the top right section of the illustration, why not add a few reflections on the bird drawing! Create new shapes (colored in white) and make sure that they fit on the head, the wings, the beak and the feet.
Notice how each of these new elements is NOT aligned with the black outlines. Instead, a small border is visible between the outline of the bird and the border of these new shapes.
As we did before, use the transparency tool to hide different areas of the reflections. Great! We are almost done with this cute bird drawing!
So far, we have filled our cartoon animal with great shadows on every part... except for the face. Create two circles and place them behind the eyes. Make sure that the bottom part of these new shapes is slightly longer. Duplicate the beak and place your new shape behind this one. All new shapes must be colored with a dark tone of red.
Once again, use a little bit of transparency to create a great effect that gives the bird a stunning 3D look! That's it! As you can see, even the most simple design can become quite interesting using only a few simple tips to enhance the illustration. More cute birds are available below. Enjoy! :)
External resources: How to draw birds