View Full Version : Peregrine WIP and feather how-to

05-22-2006, 12:41 PM
This is the next picture in my series of birds of prey. The Peregrine Falcon.

MT paper in a blue color
prismacolor pencils
image size - 9 x 8.5

I transfer the drawing onto the paper using white transfer paper and start with the eye. The eyes of the peregrine, in fact all the falcons, look like black marbles, but in fact, if you look really close and the light is just right, you can see the pupil and see that their eye color is actually a very dark brown. I tried to show that here. I burnished it down until no paper showed through at all.


Here is a close up. It shows the eye much better.


05-22-2006, 12:46 PM
Next I do the beak. Again I burnish this down completely to make it look really solid.


Oops, I went to far with the head feathers and forgot to take a during picture so I too this one insead to show you the steps. First I lay down lightly the dark areas. This will be the various feather groups and individual feathers.


I then go back and pick out the highlights. These steps are done lightly and very scribbly.


05-22-2006, 12:49 PM
This is wonderful!!
I'm working on a crow right now in ink and some of the problems I was facing have been answered just by looking at your WIP....Thank you and looking forward to seeing more of this:thumbsup:

05-22-2006, 12:50 PM
The next step is to start getting the various shades of grey. It's a little hard to see here because the grey I used is almost the exact match of the paper. But it's necessary so the next shades don't get too light or too dark.


Still more, back and forth with the sades to blend them and start filling in the paper.


For now, I'll stop here with the head feathers. I'm sure I'll come back later to darken them, but I don't want to go too dark just yet. I also just blocked in the breast feathers just to get a sence of the tonal value around it.


05-22-2006, 12:55 PM
I now start working on the back of the neck. It's the same steps here, only I try to make them a little warmer.


I'll stop working on this area until later and then see if they need to be darker. I know they will, but they can stay like this for now.


On to the back feathers. I started them the opposite from the neck feathers and started with the lightest areas first. This is to lay down the feather edges.


I build each feather one at a time and get the shading of each one down.


05-22-2006, 01:05 PM
Several people wanted me to do a feather how-to so here it is. The one important thing to remember when doing feathers is always follow the direction of the barbs. Even thought I don't actually draw every single barb, it looks like I do in the end because I always go in the right direction. Even if you're just burnishing, go in the barbs direction.

First I lay down the lightest areas and indicate where the shaft is.


Then I come back and indicate where the shadows are.


Now it's just a matter of back and forth with the various shades of grey to fill in the feather being careful not to loose the highlights too soon.


I've done a few more to show you that every now and again, I'll go back and add some shadows or splits in the feathers.


A few more feathers. Notice I do each one seperately. I've found that if I try to do a few at the same time, they end up looking all the same. It's better to do each one seperatly, then they are fresh and slightly different from each other.


Again I work the hightlights first, then the medium shade.


I've shown here that I go back with a light brown to warm the feathers up a bit. The feathers of a peregrine are odd in that they are blue, but with a warm over tone to them.


05-22-2006, 01:12 PM
Here is the piece so far. I'm almost finished with the wing feathers.


Phew! Finally finished the last wing feather. Good thing I'm not doing the entire bird. I might go back and darken these. Don't know yet.


I finished blocking in the breast area. I left some of the paper showing through and using the color as some of my shadows.


I'm just working back and forth with the white, yellows and reds to get the shading just right and to fill in the paper.


Finished! I went back into the neck feathers a bit and darkened them some what being careful not to loose the lighter colors. Even though this is really still quite light, I think I'll leave it for now. Added the shadow under the beak. It might be a bit too light. I'll live with it for awhile. I can see a couple of places that need to be adjusted some.


05-22-2006, 01:20 PM
artmutt - You must have jumped in there when I was loading up the other pictures. Glad this helped you. I would love to see your piece when it's finished. I would like to do a raven or crow some time. An all black animal is very tricky and I haven't gotten the nerve to do one yet.

05-22-2006, 01:52 PM
Fantasic work in this, what amazing detail. This is such an informative thread, I must bookmark it as I am sure it will come in useful. You have a done a stunning job.:)

05-22-2006, 02:53 PM
Thank you so much Jo. I'm glad that this will be helpful to others.

05-22-2006, 04:30 PM
wow this is just a stunning piece !!:clap: :clap: and beautiful explanation not to be missed , rating it right away:)

05-22-2006, 05:15 PM
Thanks you so much paapu. Wow, my first rated thread, thanks.

05-22-2006, 09:42 PM
I'm rating it too, wonderful work! And really great demo too, thankyou SO much for taking the time to do this!

05-22-2006, 11:36 PM


05-23-2006, 04:41 AM
its beautiful!!!

Rosa Weitzel
05-23-2006, 12:46 PM
Aw inspiring, really a wonderful WIP, so helpful. Thank you for going to the trouble to do it for all of us.

Rosa :thumbsup:

05-23-2006, 01:04 PM
:clap: Nice!

05-23-2006, 01:10 PM
I've always enjoyed your level of realism. Thanks for showing all the steps you go through to achive it!!


05-23-2006, 03:27 PM
YAY - Another "aart" WIP. Your work is incredible and this is no exception. Looking beautiful. :)

05-23-2006, 03:28 PM
Okay...this is just too amazing! And all your extra effort for the step by step instruction...Better than any book! :) I've been in the classroom with graphite but when I see work like this my colored pencils start calling...use me...lol! Thanks for the inspiration!

05-23-2006, 04:03 PM
Printing this one out and saving all the wonderful explanations!!


05-23-2006, 04:50 PM
Thank you everyone for your very nice comments. When I was trying to learn how to do feathers, I pretty much had to figure it out for myself. There wasn't much out there and what there was really didn't teach it very well. I'm so glad I could help others.

Scott Daryn Tillett
05-23-2006, 04:51 PM
This is great. I love your animals. Thanks for such a detailed explanation.:thumbsup:
www.scottdtillett.com (http://www.scottdtillett.com)


05-23-2006, 05:12 PM
Oh my god...

A friend directed me to this thread, and I just have to say, it's brilliant! Your level of realism is striking! You really captured the feeling of the peregrine spot on with your work. My favorite animal, and in colored pencil! Stunning.

05-23-2006, 07:02 PM
Thank you Scott and Windfalcon. I'm really pleased you like my work.

05-23-2006, 07:31 PM
This is a stunning bird and a beautiful presentation of your process. You're an inspring artist and educator.


05-23-2006, 11:42 PM
Very informative wip, nice to see how you do the feathers. :) Lovely piece of art. All of the drawings in your birds of prey series are wonderful.

05-24-2006, 08:21 AM
Beautiful job! Thanks for the step by step.:wave: Wanda

05-24-2006, 11:52 AM
beautiful work and a grand tutorial! Thanks for posting.

05-24-2006, 12:43 PM
Could you do a quick summary of the colors you used in each step?
If order of use was important, could you include that info, too?

05-24-2006, 09:23 PM
What a fabulous WIP Kathie!!! :clap: I shall rate it too. The final product is gorgeous, and the step-by-step instruction couldn't be better. Thank you so much for doing it... :thumbsup:

I admire anyone who gets that kind of result working on Canson MT. And burnishing too???

You probably didn't need to erase the transfer lines because of the colours, or are they covered by the CP? IF you have to, are they easy to erase? Are you using Saral?

05-24-2006, 10:06 PM
fabulous demo! thank you! you have a mentor point from me.:)

05-24-2006, 11:47 PM
and a mentor point from me as well !! I have always been a huge fan of your work and to see how you do it is a fantastic treat!!!! i hope you know how much a wip like this is so valued and i really appreciate you taking the time to show us how you have achieved your awesome level of realism!!...
thankyou so much!!!

05-25-2006, 10:24 AM
Could you do a quick summary of the colors you used in each step?
If order of use was important, could you include that info, too?
Wow, I'll try to remember. I will have to do it tomorrow. My daughter is leaving today for Egypt and I will be very busy helping her get ready. I hope I can remember all the colors I used. I'm sure I will, there really werent that many.

I admire anyone who gets that kind of result working on Canson MT. And burnishing too???
I'm finding the MT is not so bad after all. I don't really use that many layers and when I burnish, I either don't do it very much, just enough to soften the transition from one color to the next, or I have a lot of wax from the last couple of layers. I'm learning to not be so concerned with the little flecks of paper showing through anymore. The only time it really drives me crazy is when I want it really dark on light paper, or really light on dark paper.

You probably didn't need to erase the transfer lines because of the colours, or are they covered by the CP? IF you have to, are they easy to erase? Are you using Saral?For the most part, I did not erase the transfer lines. I was able to cover them up with the cp. I'm sorry I don't know what Saral is. When I did erase, I used a battery eraser. They come off beautifully from the MT.

and a mentor point from me as well
Wow, I'm not really sure what that means, but sounds nice. Thank you all for enjoying this WIP. I'm so glad it has inspired some and helped others.

05-25-2006, 01:43 PM
Wonderful ! ! !

05-25-2006, 02:18 PM
This is absolutely fantastic!! I loved watching it grow and progress!! What a wonderfully done peice!!!

05-25-2006, 03:23 PM
Wonderful! Thank you for the WIP it is wonderful to see how you work. Do you burnish with a colorless color pencil or do you use something else?

05-25-2006, 03:33 PM
This work is beautiful...lots of attention to detail and very informative. The progression is amazing. :)

05-25-2006, 04:36 PM
What do you use to burnish with?

05-25-2006, 06:16 PM
Very expressive work, Kathie. Thanks for sharing your steps & tips. :)

05-26-2006, 07:54 AM
Ok, so I had an idea for a red-tailed hawk which I am now completely terrified to try! If I can get over my wobbles about it, this thread will come in SO handy! Adding it to my favorites. :D

Thank you so much!


05-26-2006, 05:08 PM
I was asked to list the colors I used. I usually don't have a real plan when I start a piece, I just have a look at what I have, try a few colors on a scrap piece and go from there, so this list is from memory only, but I think it's pretty close to what I did. I tried to list them in the order I used them.

Eye - Highlight - white then blue slate
Iris and pubil - Burnt umber, black

Beak - Cere (nose area) White, cream, yellow ochre
beak - white, blue slate, slate grey, cool grey 30, 50, 70, black

Head - Forehead - White, goldenrod, ginger root
Top - burnt umber, warm grey 90, ginger root
back - warm grey 90, ginger root, warm grey 30

Feathers - cool grey 10, 20, 70, 90, light umber

Breast - white, cream, ginger root, goldenrod, sienna brown

When using various colors, I lay down either the darkest color first, or in some areas the lightest first, then work back and forth with all the colors until the paper gets filled up (not burnished, just covered). Then, depending on the look I want, I will start the burnishing. Sometimes, I don't burnish at all, I just keep working the colors deeper into the paper. I don't use heavier pressure, just keep my pencils sharp and get tighter and tighter until I'm getting the pencil point right into the tiny flecks to cover them up. I don't go really crazy because if I want it completely covered, I'll burnish really hard to push the colors right into the paper.

I use various colors to blend, I will pick one of the middle colors to blend a little then use the colorless blender to lightly blend the colors. With the heavy burnishing I will start with the various colors, such as white then the blue/greys in the beak, then when I feel I have enough color down, I will go back and really work the colors down into the paper. In other areas, I will burnish a little with the middle color or lightest color then lightly burnish with the colorless blender to push the colors around a bit, but not so much that it really covers the paper up.

I sure hope this helps. I'll have to remember to be more aware of the colors I'm using and the order that I use them.

Thank you all for your comments.
TessDB - If you need any help with your red-tail, just ask I used to fly one and I really love them. I know them pretty well having lived with one for 3 years.

05-26-2006, 08:20 PM
This has been wonderful to watch, thanks for the wonderful How-to on feathers, I want to try it now!

06-02-2006, 09:35 PM
Thanks for this beatifull WIP of the Falcon.
Thanks to the pictures I could understand every word of how you created this wonderfull piece of Art.

Greetz Dinky.

06-02-2006, 10:54 PM
aart, Your well done WIP inspired me to try a red-tailed hawk Afraid my skill level is not as great as yours, but yer demo tought me a lot. Thank ya for posting it.:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

06-03-2006, 02:29 PM
Great work Aart.Thanks for the wip. Besides drawing I also do woodcarving.I've done a couple of owls and some hawks and I could probably use this wip to paint my next bird of prey.Thanks again,


07-05-2006, 05:12 PM
aart , thank you so much , you are a master and this feather how-to is an invaluable lesson for me: game-cocks or fighting roosters , with their cropped combs and cropped "jowl-flaps" , no matter how immoral their sport, are some very beautiful and powerful subjects; i wonder have you any renderings of these?

07-05-2006, 08:42 PM
Fabulous! I'm rating it a 5 star too, this should DEFINITELY be included in our library!

07-05-2006, 10:23 PM
This is a wonderful "how to," and I really appreciate it! I hope it's posted in the permanent files.

07-06-2006, 08:44 AM
Excellent! Are you going to do a background or did I miss a more recent posting of the image?

One crit if I may. Consider your edges. They look a bit flat... a bit too graphic. Because the edges are rounded you would be picking up some color from the enviornment. Also a subtle value change.