How To Draw Bird Wings


The Etherington Brothers take a closer look at how to draw a bird's wing! Learn wing anatomy, how to simplify it, & tips on achieving natural flapping wings.

Learn how you can draw… or learn how to think when you draw with the Etherington Brothers!




Let’s take a look at how to draw our feathered friends!
bone anatomy is actually quite similar to human arm anatomy. It has a similar range of movement to the human arm.
The sections of a bird’s wings will also be longer or shorter depending on the bird type.




Wings have various kinds of feathers as well. Here are some simplified shapes for feather groups:



As a general rule of movement, if an arm can’t do it, a bird’s wing can’t do it!



A little caveat to this – most birds cannot stretch to the point at which the bones become aligned straight.



A wing has many different types of feathers, giving each cluster section its own distinctive shape and border. Note the difference in tip shapes.



Let’s look at what the wings do on take-off:

  1. The wings come up, opening from a folded position.
  2. When at full extension, the primary feathers splay at the tip, and the bird’s weight shifts forward.
  3. Upon launch, the wings come down hard, the head tilts forward, the tail feathers begin to open, and the toes are splayed.
  4. As the wings reach the bottom of the flapping arc, the feathers fan like a cone. The tail feathers are also fully fanned by this point.



It’s tempting to draw both wings’ movements as completely symmetrical, but asymmetry adds far more life when drawing a bird! When you make it symmetrical, it can make the image feel static, as if drawing a bird made of wood.

Also, note that when wings are flapping, feather tips lag behind the main motion.




About The Etherington Brothers

The Etherington Brothers are the creators of WORLD’S MOST SUCCESSFUL ARTBOOK & UK’S MOST SUCCESSFUL BOOK of ALL-TIME on Kickstarter. Book-makers, idea sharers. Disney, Dreamworks, etc.