In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a bird icon that is visually simple, but quite appealing (seriously!). So why are we talking about an icon instead of a cartoon character? Because icons are usually much simpler and easier to illustrate. Our goal will be to represent this animal using as little details as possible.
Drawing birds is usually a fun experience. These great animals can easily be created from a few circles and rectangles. Don't try to look for specific species in this lesson. This cute version is simply the most basic representation of a bird you can find! ;)
Let's begin this lesson by sketching a simple template using basic shapes. The head can be represented by a large circle. The body is made from a long rectangle and the wings are illustrated using triangles. That's it for now! No need to add more shapes. Let's use a few lines to draw this cartoon bird.
The head is made from a shape slightly different from the circle used as a guideline. The top of the head is slightly pointed while the cheeks are a little bit larger. The body is rounder and wings are made from smooth curved lines. You can now erase all shapes used to create the template (the ones with an orange outline).
Inside the head, draw two large circles to form the eyes. The pupils are made from smaller circular shapes. For the beak, a triangle made with round corners can be used. Complete this third step with the addition of legs done using straight and curved lines.
On top of the head, sketch some hair using small triangles made from curved lines. In this case, only two small hair are visible. On the stomach, a large patch made from a long curved line is drawn. Finally, a short tail made from a rectangle is created behind the legs and below the body.
Cool! This bird icon is visually quite interesting. How about adding some colors? Since we don't really know if it's a cardinal, a raven or a dove, then you can use any colors you want to. For this lesson, I have selected a simple green color. Notice how the patch is brighter and how the wings and tail are darker.
Remember that our goal is to create a simple icon. One technique to make this illustration closer to an icon is to add a simple outline around the character. Since the line is only visible around the animal and not around all shapes, the effect is more interesting.
In this second attempt, a bevel was added around the illustration. Somehow, I feel like the image looks like it was made from plastic. It's a simple addition that can make a huge difference. Only use this digital effect if you are 100% sure that it's relevant with what you are looking for.
Can you still recognize the character? Of course you can! Even if all green colors are now similar, it's quite easy to see that this image represents a bird. Yes, it's feasible to create icons using only a few elements and as little details as possible.
These are all steps needed to illustrate this cute bird.
If you want to try more animals icons from the same series, then feel free to do so. All these lessons are based on simple images that are easy to duplicate. Enjoy! :)
External resources: How to draw a bird