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One of the best ways to train yourself to rapidly draw birds in the field is to practice at home with clear sharp photographs. Pick out a photograph of a bird, then set a timer and give yourself one minute to sketch the bird from that photograph. Do not worry about details but concentrate on getting the basic shape or silhouette.
Optional extension: Give yourself ten minutes to draw ten one-minute sketches. Then try doing ten more each day for a week and watch your speed and ability to capture the shape of a bird improve.
Recommended site for quality bird photos: http://roysephotos.com/
Tips from John Muir Laws:
"I start by capturing the posture of the bird (axis of the body). Then add an oval for the body and a proportionate circle for the head. I stop and double check the proportions before I go on. Then I add lines showing the angle of the beak and tail. Now focus on the edges of the bird and carve in the angles around the head and tail. It may help to focus on the negative shapes you see beyond the bird rather than the bird itself. Think posture, proportions, and angles.”
- Lightly draw one line that captures the posture or energy of the bird. Build the drawing around this first line.
- Lightly draw circles to capture the mass of the body, and then the head.
- Stop! Check and change your proportions at this early stage. Once you add detail, you are stuck.
- Lightly draw lines showing the beak-eye line, leading edge of the wing, tail, and position of the legs.
- Look for angles in the silhouette of the bird and (lightly) carve them into your circles. Look carefully around the head-body and body-tail junctions. All the marks so far should be barely visible, faint "ghost" lines.
- Now, with more pressure and decisiveness, add the details on top of the "ghost" structure below.
Upload and discuss your sketches here. See examples from Beck attached.
Click here to view the attachment