Hello!! This may be a weird question but I too am heavily interested in birds but unlike you, I cannot draw them as well. :,^( If it's not too much work (if it is just ignore this, i don't mind), do you know of any good references or sources to learn more about birds from facts to anatomy? I know this is a pretty wide range so again, I totally understand if you can't! I just thought it was worth an ask. Thank you so much!!
i don’t really have any specific reference places but here’s some things i do.
drawing birds is arguably one of the hardest animals because of their feathers. unlike fat and fur that folds to the body in a way that’s usually readable to whats underneath, feathers sort of create a ‘bubble’ around the body which makes a lot of body parts indistinguishable to where one ends and another begins. so its important to always think in terms of skeletal anatomy:
birds are dinosaurs and therefore reptiles. looking at birds this way, it’s a lot easier to see their evolution.
with that in mind, say we wanna draw this dude. owls are pretty tough because their outward appearances are so deceiving.
we’ve got a neutral pose, feathers are generously surrounding most of the body so its no sweat, we don’t really know whats going on. but we can hide it. but now we want to make him move and look cool. without really knowing whats going on we might get stuck on something like this:
its always kind of stiff and frustratingly unrealistic. mostly this is because we just don’t have enough knowledge of the skeletal structure to work with. eyeballing anatomy on our first drawing might get something like the left, more than anything people aren’t generous enough with leginess of birds:
owls do indeed have regular proportioned necks with the rest of their bodies. and their skulls are like that of any other stereotypical raptor under their mask of feathers (minus their freaky eye sockets and ears)) they can open their mouths wide just like a hawk or eagle can. it’s important to remember that birds with large wingspans do not magically lose their length when hidden. they are just conveniently folded in against their bodies.
knowing this we can try again. suddenly things seem to click in place more and have a believable-ness to them.
the rule of thumb for most birds is they have less body mass and more leg/neck than one thinks. they are lanky dinosaurs.
when we are looking at this:
we are seeing this:
with that rule, drawing birds becomes a lot less confusing. with practice you might just eyeball their feathered appearances but if not, going back to skeletal/muscle structure gives the base you need to draw convincing birds.
when it comes to specific body parts, the most challenging part for me personally have always been feet. birds with super twiggy feet are easier because one line per toe is easy to get away with. but when you get to birds with meatier feet, especially raptors, it gets difficult. my way of getting around this is to think of the actual ‘feet’ last. drawing each separate toe first gets confusing because you just find yourself trying to get them to each fit evenly together at the base of the foot. one always seems kind of skinnier or fatter than the others in my experiences, and by the time you correct it the gesture gets muddled and lost.
so i just skip that part until later, i draw talon first.
perhaps this is very unorthodox, but just like artists might square in the hands first on a human before working out the arms, i square in the talons to know where i want them before worrying how they go on exactly.
that way we have a clear gesture captured, and in my experience it is much more readable.
thats’ really all i can think of now in terms of my techniques, i hope this helps :V