Let's Draw Birds with Personality | Portia Monberg | Skillshare

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Let's Draw Birds with Personality

teacher avatar Portia Monberg, Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

14 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Overview

    • 4. Teardrop Bodies

    • 5. Half Circle Bodies

    • 6. Oval Bodies

    • 7. S and U Bodies

    • 8. Eyes

    • 9. Beaks

    • 10. Feathers

    • 11. Legs and Feet

    • 12. Final Project

    • 13. Bonus: Color

    • 14. ThankYou

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About This Class

Learn to draw a variety of stylized birds. I will teach you a modular approach that utilizes basic shapes for the body, wings, eyes, beaks and legs. Then I will show you how to combine the shapes to create unique birds.

I want to empower you to use your imagination to create your own unique creatures. In the resources section you’ll find downloads that enable you to mix and match elements to depict a bird. You can also think of the Mix and Match sheets as bird drawing recipes. 

All that you need to take this class is a pencil, an eraser, paper and a black pen. If you choose to do the bonus section on color you will need markers or watercolor in at least two colors. 

I believe that art is for everyone and I'd love to show you how to tap into your creative side. It is easier than you think.

Meet Your Teacher

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Portia Monberg



Hi. I'm an artist and illustrator living in the SF Bay Area. I've done commercial work for a variety of clients including Shutterfly and Facebook but my Skillshare classes focus on my love of drawing, watercolor and making creative projects for fun. I particularly love drawing animals in a graphic style. I hope to see you in one of my classes soon.

Visit www.portiamonberg.com for some inspirational freebies and to see my other classes.

I'd love to see you on Instagram too! @portiamonberg

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1. Introduction: Welcome toe. Let's drop birds with personality. Hi, my name is Porsche and I'm an illustrator and former graphic designer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've done commercial illustration work for clients just Shutterfly and Facebook. But I also like to draw on my own for fun, and that's more what this class is gonna focus on. I love drawing animals, especially with personality in humor, and in this class you'll learn how to draw stylized birds with loads of personality, and I'm gonna show you simple building blocks. But then you can take and use on your own to create your own unique birds. I really believe that part and drawing are for everyone. I was not born with natural drawing talent, but I've taught myself over time to learn how to draw, really by looking at illustrations and looking at photographs and breaking things down into simple shapes. So if you're intimidated by drawing, I want to reassure you anybody could do this, especially you, and I'm going to show you how and I'm gonna make it very straight board. Very methodical and easy. Hopefully completing the projects in this class will boost your self confidence and that will spur you on to do even more creative projects. So even if you're a little intimidated by drawing, I really hope that you'll join me, and I can't wait to see what you will make. 2. Materials: As faras materials go, all you need is paper, pencil, an eraser and a black pen. We're just going to keep the materials very simple so you can focus on learning the shapes of the birds. And in terms of my recommendations, I like to use ah, hard pencil for my first sketch because ah, heard pencil is much lighter. And so then when you think your project, you'll be able to erase the pencil really easily. Um, and then in terms of pens, I like micron sacrum, micron pens, and I used 0805 I like using a kneaded eraser because you conform it into a sharp point, and then you can get into hard to reach areas of your drawings and then paper. My very favorite kind of paper to sketch on, um, is skansen mixed media paper because you can do watercolor and other wet media, and it doesn't really bleed through, and also the notebooks are not that expensive, so they don't feel too precious to actually work in for your final project. You might want to get, you know, a different shape pad. I like using a square, and so I'm using this watercolor paper. It is the eight by eight inches. Fluid, hot press finish, watercolor paper and hot press means that it has a smoother finish. Cold press is textured, but when I'm using ink, I definitely prefer a smoother texture. Watercolor papers Not necessary. I use watercolor paper because I tend to have it on hand and it is thick, which gives your piece a little more substance. I'll provide links to all of the materials in the resource is section. 3. Overview: just to give you a brief overview of the class, we're going to start withdrawing demos, move onto bird sketches and then proceed to the final project while you're watching the demos. Feel free to copy along and do what I'm doing. You can also just watch the demos take it in, then download the mix and match sheet that I prepared for this class and use that to create your own birds. I'm hoping that you'll take what you've learned from my drawing and the mix and Matt sheets and create your own unique birds. The way I set up the downloads is so that you can take a bird body and then choose a wing and then Jews and I etcetera. So you can really come up with your own creations using the building blocks that I have set out for you. And then as a final project, we're going to dio a composition that's a group of birds in black and white, and if you're interested in adding color, you can check out the bonus section where all I will discuss that. Please feel free to upload your sketches as you work your way through the class you don't need to wait until you have a final project. I'd love to see what you're doing as we go post any questions you have for me in the community section, I'll be checking it often, and we'll be happy to get back to you also, if you have any comments about the class or feedback for me, I would love to hear it. Thank you so much. 4. Teardrop Bodies: a teardrop is a great shape to start with. When drawing birds, it's super versatile. You can have straight sides or curb sides and get a wide variety of birds either flying or standing, So I definitely like to use the teardrop shape a lot. 5. Half Circle Bodies: half circles and altered half circles provide another easy and very versatile way to drop birds. Feel free to follow along with me as I draw half circle birds or just take it in and draw your own leader. 6. Oval Bodies: ovals are another great shape when drawing birds, especially birds that are facing forward. And when you use ovals, you can really get some great facial expressions because you have two eyes that you're working with. 7. S and U Bodies: s as in the letter s. And you as in the letter, You are good starting points for birds. And I especially love the s shape because I like Dr Birds that have a bit of an attitude, and you can really get their noses sticking up in the air, and I think it's pretty funny. 8. Eyes: for very simple bird eyes. You can just use a dot Maybe your bird is looking down for a place to land, in which case you can use an oval and then darken around area and the lower part of the eye . Maybe you want your bird to be looking a little bit down, but a little bit ahead, in which case you can adjust the dark part less. In this example, maybe your bird is feeling a little uncertain, and it's just speaking behind him, in which case you can put the pupil towards the back of the eye. Oops. Did your Burgess realize something? Maybe he or she is surprised, in which case you can have a big round eyes with tiny little pupils. A human like I could be fun to use if you're doing kind of a more decorative bird, or if you just wanna give it some more human like emotions or attributes. I love drawing happy birds, and this bird looks like she's cracking herself up, and you can easily achieve that look just by doing a semicircle that's pointing upward, and a downward pointing semicircle can make your bird either look like a snob, especially if his nose is stuck in the air or just like your bird is sleeping. And you might have that if your bird is facing forward and you have to sleeping eyes for more examples of bird eyes that you can play with, be sure to download the mix and match sheet that I created to go with this class. 9. Beaks: for the most simple bird beak. Just draw a triangle, and here's another example. If you want your bird to be talking, you can create an open beak with two triangles and for a little more fun. And to add some personality, you could make the beak striped or add other decorative elements. A slightly parted beak gives your bird a sweet look or a look like it's just about to start talking. A fuller rounder beak gives your bird a jovial look, especially if the beak is open. It looks like your bird is laughing for front facing birds. You can just dio a simple, long, upside down triangle or a diamond shape, and both those work for bird beaks facing forward. For more beak ideas, be sure to download the mix and match sheet that I made for this class and have fun. 10. Feathers: you can create wings and a variety of shapes, but one that is easy to remember is the teardrop shape, just like the teardrop bodies. Another simple wing shape is the half circle, and you can draw that for birds that are flying and then also over the body for birds that are sitting or standing. And you can put in, um, nested half circles if you want some decorative element. Another simple wing shape is this one. I'm not really sure what to call it. It's sort of like a two sided triangle with curved sides. You can also make a fun wing shape with three scallops on the bottom that indicate feathers . For a more stylized bird, you can make an L shape and then connect the endpoints for birds facing forward. You can do some nicely shaped wings, one starting with a semi circle that slightly longer on the right side or on one side, Um, and then make some scallops underneath and come in and connected to the body. And then a similar variation on that wing is to make a more angled shape and then also scallops on the bottom. You can dress up your bird with some tail feathers, and an easy way to do that is with this basic pedal shape that you can see here. A lot of floral shapes work well for feathers. Here's another version of pedals, but a more rounded um topside. You can also use a more feather like feather shaped for the tail feathers. It is also reminiscent of a plant or floral type shape, and here are a couple more examples of tail feather ideas for a bird facing forward again, you can use the scallops at the bottom and make a lovely tail. Head feathers are another really fun element of birds that can really add some personality , and here I'm just making curved lines with dots. But I think it gives the bird of fun look and again reminiscent of floral shapes. Spirals also make great head feathers and tail feathers to another option is to do kind of a spiky look, and here are some head feathers made from simple lines. If you have a large area and you'd like to indicate feathers, textures can be a great way to go. You can use small lines, or you can dio little curved areas that are kind of like separated scallops or even stripes just for fun. Here some examples of colorful birds where used a lot of different patterns and textures to fill out the wings and feathers. Be sure to down though the mix and match sheet for more ideas about wings and feathers. 11. Legs and Feet: The simplest way to drive bird feet is really just Els, and you could see here's another example, and it just gives the bird a foundation to stand on. The second most basic way to draw bird feet is with three prongs, and typically the middle toe will be the longest. And if you want Teoh, you can add an additional, um, some or toe on the back. If you want your bird to be facing forward, then just make the three toes facing forward and have the middle Toby the shortest. If you want to give your bird a little more character, you can always show the knee sort of the backwards bend. If you want to give your bird some movement, then you can make one leg up as if the bird is tryingto walk and one leg back. You can also show extra plumage on the upper legs of your bird like you'd see on a chicken . Or you can show the knee joints like you would see on a flamingo. So far, we've been talking about legs and feet for birds that are standing. But what about birds who are flying? I really like the look of feet that are just sort of dangling down from a bird. So I do that quite often, and you can do that in profile. And then you can also do it when the bird is facing front and has its wings outstretched. You also have the option of not showing feet it all, especially if a wing is in the way or you just don't feel like it. 12. Final Project: If you haven't made any sketches yet, now is a good time to sketch some birds, and you can do this by using the information you learned in my demos. And or you can download the mix and match sheets and create some birds that way. But it's a good idea to get a bunch of sketches. So then you consort of curate your favorites and use those in your final composition. For the final project, I created a variety of birds that are sort of interacting with each other on a large square area. Some tips here are definitely very your scale. So have some large birds and then some smaller birds and try to have them facing inward. Because if you have a bird at the edge of the page that is facing outward than the viewers , I will go off the canvas and away from your composition. I also tried to include a lot of different textures. Um, I have birds that are flying. Birds that are standing a bird said, are looking ahead. Birds that are looking to the side looking behind them. You know, just a lot of variety to keep the viewer's interest, especially because for this final project, we're doing it in black and white. I recommend using a hard pencil and sketching out your composition first and then going back with black ink. Once you've inked your piece, Um, I would let it sit overnight or at least for a few hours, to let the Inc fully dry before you try to go back in with an eraser, cause I've definitely made the mistake of trying to erase too soon and then just getting black smears everywhere. Speaking of smearing, another thing to watch out for is to not rest your hand on something you've just inked, because if you dio that ink from your hand can then transfer to the rest of your piece in a way that you don't want it. Teoh. If you do want to add color, I recommend adding color before you add black pen. If that is something that you plan to dio, because adding color, even though the sicker markers air waterproof. If you try to add color afterwards, sometimes they will smear, and then the black pen can also serve as a way to sort of clean up any uneven edges that you might have had with the color. Please be sure to upload your final projects. I can't wait to see what you've learned from the class and what wonderful birds you create . 13. Bonus: Color: as I mentioned before. If you're gonna add color, it's best to do it. After the pencil and before the black ink, I recommend using either markers or watercolor, especially if you want to put the black ink on top when it comes to color and making a piece unified. The main trick is to use a limited color palette. In this example, I used purple and yellow, which are complementary colors, because complementary colors are furthest away from each other on the color wheel. Their high contrast and this gives your piece energy and vibrancy. Orange and blue are another example of a complimentary color combination. In this example, I also used yellow, which is an analogous color toe. Orange and analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel and are very harmonious when used together. In this example, pink and green are the complementary colors, and I'm really using pink as a stand in for red. And then green and yellow are the analogous colors. I don't have theory to offer on this combination, but I do love pink and yellow together, so I've given you examples of color combinations that I like and just a little bit of theory so you can create your own complementary or analogous color combinations. But if you want to explore color more deeply, I mostly recommend just observing what you're drawn. Teoh and I will collect images on Pinterest and that analyze what colors are those artworks or illustrations composed of Because with color for me, at least, it's a little bit backwards. I see what I like in a piece and then say Hey like that and then try to deconstruct it and figure out the color palette. So I hope this is enough information to get you started. If you'd like to use color in your project, please feel free toe. Ask any questions that you might have regarding the project or regarding thoughts on color . 14. ThankYou: thank you so much for taking my class. I hope that you enjoyed it. And I hope you learned more about drawing in general and drawing birds specifically. If you would like to continue learning about drawing birds and specifically if you would like to learn how to use photographs to enhance your drawings and how to abstract photographs into more stylized birds, please head on over to my website and you can sign up to get the bonus video.