View Full Version : Birds- Illustration Project

01-15-2009, 12:23 AM
The Illustration project I am working on at the moment (an for the next few months, I'm sure :) ) entails about 150 or so drawings, all with a nature theme. MANY of them will be animals.

I'd like to share the work as I can, and get any input that people have as I go. Since there will be SO many drawings, I will not start a new thread for each drawing, but I'll place them in the appropriate threads as they are finished. The vast majority of them will be done in colored pencil, So I am posting them in that forum as well.

This thread will be Birds- There will probably be about 25-30 or so individual illustrations featuring birds of one type or antother.

Remember, these are not intended to be framed and placed on a wall to be viewed- Most are supported by text of some kind, and are done to illustrate a concept or fact about the animal. For that reason, the pose and or composition might not be one that I would have chosen for purely aesthetic reasons... Backgrounds on most, if not all, will be VERY simple.

I appreciate any feedback that you might have on them, too!

Here's a new one tonight- An American Robin- About 9" x 7". Prismacolor & Polychromos pencils on Bristol Plate-


01-15-2009, 06:36 AM
Pretty good lookin fella there...But the Breast is just too Red, it should be rusty, with more variation in the shading.

01-15-2009, 07:25 AM
I really like this - cant comment on the redness of teh breast as I have never seen an american robin - but further than this I dont think it matters as these do not look to be photorealism but are very much your response to what you have seen. I like the plain BGs - I think they could be done with no BG at all actually

01-15-2009, 08:50 AM
I'm also wondering if no background or at least a lighter background would be more appropriate to what you're doing. I'm a little bothered by how close the feet are to the bottom of the page and that there isn't even a hint of them in the grass. I'd like to see just a little bit of them through the grass so the robin doesn't look like someone cut off his feet.

01-15-2009, 10:49 AM
Andrew, is this a project you are doing for yourself or doing for someone else? I have one left to do on my project. Very time consuming- especially when you have to do all the research which by contract THEY were supposed to do!!! I have to find me some "mink" reference for my last one!

01-15-2009, 04:54 PM
Thanks for the comments!

tapecat- I think that perhaps it might not look right due to your monitor settings vs. mine, or perhaps just a regional difference in coloring- I am fairly careful to get accurate colors. This is a comparison of different 'snips' out of the breast area from 3 ref pics, randomly selected from the 100's of robin photos that I have... One of them was used as the primary ref photo. The 4th color block is taken out of the scan of the drawing-


Being 100% on isn't my goal- I don't think that's possible- But I think that I am close. Remember, too- There is a LOT of variation in nature! I have found some are far more red than others... Looking over my ref pics proves that!

Ceiliog- Thanks, Yes- Realism is a goal, but not to the point of it looking like a Photo- If that's what was wanted, I'd just use my photos!! As for the BG's, I tried some without a background, and they didn't go over as well... I liked the look, but some didn't 'pop' as much from the page.

Puglady- Yeah, He DOES look like someone amputated his toes! But- There is going to be a 'text box' there, and it would have hidden them anyway- So I didn't draw them... Perhaps I should add a hint of them so it would stand alone better...

Carol- All my refs and research are from my own sources- I have just loose guidelines as to what is needed. Luckily, I am a photographer of sorts, too- and I have about 18,000 of my own shots at my disposal! Those that I don't have good shots of I have been able to get other photographers to allow me to use their pics as reference. Most are pretty open to it, since I'm not directly using the photo, except as a guide.


01-15-2009, 10:16 PM
Andrew, I like the bird a lot. I think there's a bit of a halo in the background. If you look hard, I think you'll see it. Might be worth ironing that out :)

01-16-2009, 01:15 AM
Todays work- A Pileated Woodpecker.


He is about 5 1/2" x 9", Prismacolor on Bristol plate.

I played with the background a bit on this one- A little more complicated than the others, while still not really 'detailing' anything. I wanted that in the deep woods feel.

I LOVE having these birds around- Though they can get a bit noisy at times, They have a particular love for a tree outside my house that has a nice dead branch full of yummy insects to munch on. I leave them Suet in the winters, too- And also leave dead trees standing for them on my land. They are really fascinating (and BIG!) birds...


01-16-2009, 01:34 PM
I love them both!

01-16-2009, 07:27 PM
Love this second one, with the bg. Looks great.

01-16-2009, 08:33 PM
Really nice Andrew! I especially like the woodpecker. I look forward to seeing more!


01-17-2009, 06:40 PM
Wow - What an undertaking Andrew! You must be crazy about birds. :) Very time consuming, especially in cp!!! I will keep checking back. I do think these are lovely - I have been working on some for 3 years that I am still not happy with.

01-17-2009, 07:45 PM
gosh you do so well with the eye. I am drawn to eye in each

01-19-2009, 03:56 AM

I've been stuck in the ice on Northern Lake Michigan (I'm on my ship at the moment), so haven't been able to check in! I DID get some drawing done, though :)

Barbara- I suppose I am something of a bird nut- I have 6 living IN my house, including 3 large parrots, and countless hundreds visiting my yard on a regular basis to eat- I LOVE drawing them!

Thanks, Carol... I usually do the eye first- I find that it is critical to making the drawing 'work'. If I can't get the eye right, nothing else seems to look right!

01-19-2009, 03:56 AM
Here's the latest- A Black-capped chickadee, a frequent (and FUN to watch!) visitor to my feeders-


Working on the final details of the NEXT one, too...

01-20-2009, 03:35 PM
I like to birds, too, but yours have such a nice detail. I like the woodpecker the best. The robin needs the breast to have more orange in it and more value range, and the chickadee could use some more yellow. But very good renderings. I look forward to seeing them all.