how to paint bird feathers

How to paint plumage and feathers

Painting feathers and plumage is often a dreaded process for artists, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult at all, even though it is undoubtedly time-consuming.

There are many different kinds of feathers nowadays, so if you want to paint birds, you should learn about the theory behind the various kinds of feathers and their functions. Feathers serve a variety of purposes, including decoration, weather protection, body insulation, and flight feathers—which are more rigid and obviously meant for flying.

My recommended method for handling feathers is very straightforward: I think that hand-painted feathers look far better than brushes with feather shapes that are repeated repeatedly or rows of feathers that are precisely repeated in layers that overlap.

I would sketch a basic outline first to determine the general shape, and then I would begin roughly shaping each feather. Make sure to add a gentle shadow along the edge of each feather where one feather overlaps the next to create the illusion of layers. You can begin detailing with the smudge tool on a nice base by maintaining a nice transition from dark to bright, and finish with a small, sharp brush.

Blocking in coarse hues and contrasts at first creates a solid foundation for the subsequent detailing procedure. At this point, don’t play around; just be brave and put in the hard labor.

Step 1 – Get the basic shape up, and start painting in contrast.

Draw a rough sketch of each feather and the fundamental forms of the plumage you intend to paint. Do not forget to arrange the feathers in overlapping layers atop one another. Seeing images of birds and their wings is always beneficial in order to comprehend the way that the feathers overlap.


Can you paint real feathers?

Feathers can be a perfect canvas for any artist. Not only are the feathers themselves beautiful, they offer a blank slate for an infinite number of paintings. In this Instructable we go over the basic steps of painting on a feather, with numerous tips and pointers along the way.

How do you feather paint with a brush?

When using a brush, “feather” the edges, beginning at the inside of the touch-up, moving out toward the edges. Feathering is a technique where you extend your brush strokes slightly beyond the repaired area to blend into the surrounding paint for a smooth transition.