Before we start I'll show you which tools I'm going to use in this tutorial.
- Pencils of various hardness: HB, 2B, 4B and 8B.
- Mechanical pencil with 0.5mm HB or 2B lead.
- Paper stump (great for blending).
- Eraser and, if you have it, also a eraser pencil (it's very useful when you need to erase small parts).
- Paper of your choise (I've used a medium rough sheet but it's good also smooth paper).
If you are starting to draw a subject you've never drawn before it's advisable to do some fast sketches of the animal in different poses before you start the detailed drawing. This will make you know the subject a little.
To tell something about references, I use them. When I can I use personal photos, when I can't I use photos I find on the internet and I've the permission to use. The photos used for this tutorial were found on a stock photos website.
Now we can start the main drawing.
If you need it, draw some guide lines, like you see in the image. Try to keep the right proportions of the different parts of the Eagle. The head is medium sized if compared to the body, which is round and elongated. When the guide lines are done and you think they are correct, start the actual drawing. This is an important step, draw the most evident parts and details, like eye, beak, some feathers, the feet and so on.
For this step I've used HB pencil.
Start working on the drawing from the darkest parts using the 8B pencil. Don't draw a black lineart (it wouldn't be very realistic), just look at the photo reference and locate the parts where there is black (or the darkest color in the figure) and reproduce them on your drawing with the soft 8B pencil. Change pressure while drawing, press down the pencil only if you want black.
Do not forget to put a sheet of clean paper between your hand and the sheet on which you're working.
Here a little step by step image to help you to draw the feathers on the wing of the Bald Eagle. The smaller feathers (the ones in the upper part of the wing) are similiar to reptile scales. Their disposition seems random, but there is a logic in the way each feather covers the other. Look at various photos and try to understand and reproduce this pattern. Notice that the border of each feather is lighter than the internal part.
Continue using the 8B on the wing, on the tail and between the legs. When you draw the wing remember to draw the different feather groups.
Use the same pencil to work on the rest of the body and on the feet. When the first layer is done you can add another one to make some parts darker and create volume. Sharpen your pencil when you work on tiny details.
Now let's work on the head (you can work on the different parts in the order you prefer, it's not important). Keep your pencil sharpened while working on the face because the head of the Bald Eagle is white so you don't have to add a lot of graphite on it, keep it light. Draw dark lines only to define the face, so the outline of the eye and the round pupil, the nostril and the part under the bill.
This is how the Bald Eagle should look like when you're done with the 8B pencil.
Use the paper stump to blend the graphite on the whole drawing but don't touch the ligther parts, thay have to remain clear.
Now that the base of the drawing is done it's time to add the details. Refine the form of the feathers, add thin dark shadows, refine the texture of the plumage and of the feet.
This is how the Bald Eagle should look when you've finished to add the main details.
If you think it's necessary, work a little more on the figure. Strengthen the shadows, the form of the feathers and their outlines.
The Bald Eagle is finished! Now, if you want to emphasize the white head, you can add a simple background using the 2B pencil. Make a little darker the zone in contact with the lighter parts of the head to make it stand out even more. The drawing is finished, I hope you liked this tutorial!
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