Step-by-Step Guide: Drawing a Tropical Bird
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Gather your materials
  2. Sketch the basic shape
  3. Add details to the beak
  4. Draw the eye
  5. Outline the feathers
  6. Sketch in the wings
  7. Add the legs and perch
  8. Begin coloring in the bird
  9. Add shading and texture
  10. Finish with background details

Imagine you're lounging around on a Sunday afternoon, doodling in your sketchbook, and you suddenly feel a spark of inspiration—you want to draw something vibrant, something full of life. What could be more fitting than a tropical bird, bursting with color and detail? This step-by-step guide on how to draw a detailed tropical bird with vibrant plumage will lead you through the process, from the first pencil stroke to the final splash of color. Ready to give it a shot? Let's get started.

Gather Your Materials

Before you start to draw your tropical bird, you'll need to make sure you have all the right materials at hand. Here's a quick checklist:

  • Pencil: This is your primary tool, ideal for sketching the basic shape and adding details. Any standard HB or 2B pencil will do.
  • Eraser: A small, precise eraser is a must. You'll need it to fix any mistakes or to lighten areas before coloring.
  • Colored Pencils: Tropical birds are all about vibrant colors. A set of high-quality colored pencils will help you capture the bird's eye-catching plumage. Prismacolor or Faber-Castell are reputable brands you might want to consider.
  • Sharpener: Keep your pencils sharp. It's easier to add fine details with a well-sharpened pencil.
  • Paper: Smooth, medium weight drawing paper is best for this project. It can hold up to erasing and coloring without tearing.

Now that you've got your materials ready, you're one step closer to learning how to draw a detailed tropical bird with vibrant plumage. In the next section, we'll start with sketching the basic shape of our bird. Stay tuned!

Sketch the Basic Shape

The first step to creating your vibrant tropical bird is to sketch the basic shape. Think of this as a blueprint—it's going to guide your pencil as you add details later on. Don't worry about perfection at this stage; basic shapes and lines are all you need. Here's how to do it:

  1. Body: Start by drawing an oval for the body. This will be the main part of your bird. The size of the oval will determine the size of your bird, so be sure to leave enough room for the head, tail, and wings.
  2. Head: Next, draw a smaller circle or oval for the head at the top of the body. This should connect smoothly with the body oval.
  3. Beak: Now, draw a triangle at the front of the head for the beak. The size and shape of the beak can vary depending on the species of bird you're drawing.
  4. Tail: At the other end of the body oval, sketch out another, longer oval for the tail. Remember, many tropical birds have long, dramatic tail feathers, so don't be shy with the length!
  5. Wings: Add a large, rounded shape on each side of the body for the wings. They should start at the top of the body and end about halfway down.

At this point, your drawing should look like a jumble of basic shapes. Don't worry if it doesn't look like a bird yet—that's what the next steps are for! Remember, the key to learning how to draw a detailed tropical bird with vibrant plumage is patience. Each step brings you closer to your finished masterpiece.

Add Details to the Beak

Now that you've laid out the basic shape, it's time to start adding details. The beak is a great place to start because it's one of the most defining features of a bird. When it comes to drawing a detailed tropical bird, you'll want to pay extra attention to this area. Here's how:

  1. Beak Outline: Start by refining the outline of the beak. Depending on the type of bird you're drawing, the beak might be straight, curved, or even hooked. Don't be afraid to use reference photos to get this part just right.
  2. Nostrils: Next, add the nostrils. These are usually small ovals or circles near the top of the beak. Remember, they're not typically in the center—more often than not, they're closer to the bird's head.
  3. Mouth Line: Now, let's add a line to indicate where the beak opens. This line starts at the tip of the beak and curves up towards the nostrils. If you're going for a more expressive look, play around with the shape of this line—a slight curve can make your bird appear happy, while a downward curve can make it seem serious or focused.
  4. Detailing: Finally, add some lines to suggest texture and give the beak a three-dimensional look. These lines should follow the curve of the beak. Less is more in this case—just a few lines can make a big difference.

There you go! With these steps, you're well on your way to learning how to draw a detailed tropical bird with vibrant plumage. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don't worry if your beak doesn't look perfect on the first try. Each attempt brings you one step closer to mastering this skill.

Draw the Eye

With the beak details in place, let's move onto the eye. The eyes of a tropical bird are lively, expressive, and full of detail. Here's how you can bring that to life:

  1. Positioning: First, determine where the eye will be. Typically, the eye is close to the beak and a bit higher. Draw a small circle at this spot to mark the eye's location.
  2. The Iris: Inside the small circle, draw a larger one. This will be the iris—the colored part of the eye. Make sure to leave a small area white for the next step.
  3. The Pupil: Inside the iris, draw another smaller circle. This is the pupil—the black center of the eye. It's what gives your tropical bird its distinctive gaze.
  4. Eyelid and Lashes: Next, add an arc above the eye for the eyelid, and if you're feeling adventurous, you can add a few lines for lashes. Remember, the eye should be expressive, so take your time here.
  5. The Highlight: The final touch for the eye is the highlight—a small white circle that makes the eye look shiny and alive. Place it in the upper part of the pupil.

And there you have it! You're now familiar with how to draw a detailed tropical bird eye. But remember, the beauty of art is that it's subjective. If your bird's eye doesn't look exactly like your reference photo, that's okay. It's your personal touch that makes your artwork unique. So, keep practicing and refining your technique.

Outline the Feathers

Now, let's turn our attention to the plumage. The vibrant feathers are what make tropical birds truly captivating. Here's how to get started:

  1. Starting Point: Begin from the head, right where the beak and the eye you've just drawn meet. This is where the plumage starts.
  2. Feather Shape: Draw an elongated oval shape to represent a feather. Don't worry about getting it perfect; feathers come in all shapes and sizes.
  3. Multiple Feathers: Repeat this process, drawing more ovals until you've covered the entire body. Remember, the size and direction of the feathers can change depending on the bird's body part.
  4. Feather Details: Now, for each feather, add a line down the center—this is the feather's stem. Then, add smaller lines branching out from it to represent the feather's barbs.

Voila! You have successfully outlined a tropical bird's vibrant plumage. It might seem like a lot of work, but all this detail will make your bird look more realistic and visually stunning. Remember, the key is not to rush. Take your time and enjoy the process of bringing your bird to life.

Sketch in the Wings

With the feathers outlined, your bird is starting to take shape. Now, let's sketch in the wings. These are integral to creating a dynamic drawing of a detailed tropical bird. Here's how:

  1. Wing Position: First, decide on the position of your bird's wings. Are they folded at its sides or spread wide in flight? This will greatly influence the shape and size of the wings.
  2. Basic Wing Shape: Draw a rough shape that represents the full wing. For folded wings, this will look like a "C" shape. For spread wings, it's more of a long, narrow triangle.
  3. Feather Placement: Now, within the shape you've drawn, start adding individual feathers. Remember, the feathers near the top of the wing are generally smaller and rounder, while those towards the bottom are long and pointed.
  4. Details: Add the feather's stem and barbs just like you did when outlining the body feathers. This adds a realistic touch to your tropical bird.

Great job! Your tropical bird now has wings. As you progress, you'll see how these steps help capture the vibrant plumage and intricate details of a tropical bird. Keep going, you're doing fantastic!

Add the Legs and Perch

Next, we move on to the legs and perch. This is where your tropical bird will stand. Ready? Here we go:

  1. Legs: Start by sketching two thin lines that will serve as the legs of your bird. Make sure they are proportionate to the body. Some tropical birds have long, slender legs, while others may have short, stout ones.
  2. Feet: At the end of the legs, add the bird's feet. These usually have three forward-facing toes and one facing backwards. Each toe ends in a sharp claw.
  3. Perch: Beneath the bird's feet, draw a sturdy branch or perch. This could be a tree branch, a wooden beam, or anything else you imagine your bird standing on. The perch provides balance in your drawing and grounds your bird in its tropical environment.
  4. Details: Add some texture to the legs and perch. For the legs, add some fine lines to indicate feathers or scales. For the perch, add some lines to show the texture of wood or bark.

And there you have it! Your bird now has something to stand on. Remember, the goal is to draw a detailed tropical bird with vibrant plumage, and every little detail adds to the overall effect. So, take your time and don't rush. Keep going!

Begin Coloring in the Bird

Now comes the fun part; coloring in your bird. This is where we start to see the vibrant plumage of your tropical bird come to life. Let's dive into the details:

  1. Select your colors: Tropical birds are known for their bright and varied color palette. Choose a mix of bold, vibrant colors. Think about using shades of blue, green, red, yellow, or even purple.
  2. Start with the body: Use the main color you've selected for the bird's body. Fill in the sketched out areas with gentle, even strokes of your colored pencil or marker. Remember, it's easier to add more color later, so start light and build your way up to the intensity you want.
  3. Color the feathers: Now, let's add some color to those feathers. Variety is key here. Use different shades for different feathers to highlight their unique shapes and sizes. This is how to draw a detailed tropical bird with vibrant plumage and make it stand out.
  4. Don't forget the beak and legs: They might be small, but the beak and legs are important too. Use contrasting colors here to make these features pop.

Don't be scared to experiment with colors. After all, in nature, tropical birds are the true artists with their amazing color combinations. You're just trying to capture a little bit of their magic on paper.

Add Shading and Texture

Once you've applied the base colors, it's time to add depth and dimension to your bird. How do you give your tropical bird a realistic look? It's all about shading and texture.

  1. Shade the body: Identify the light source in your sketch. Where is the sun or light coming from? The areas further away from the light source will be darker. Use a darker shade of your base color to gently add some shading to these areas. This will make your bird appear more three-dimensional.
  2. Texture the feathers: Feathers aren't flat, they have texture. To show this in your drawing, use quick, short strokes with a sharp pencil or fine-tip pen. You can also use different shades of the same color to add depth and make each feather stand out. This is a key step in learning how to draw a detailed tropical bird with vibrant plumage.
  3. Detail the beak and legs: Use fine lines and dots to add texture to the beak and legs. This can make these parts look more realistic.

Remember, adding texture and shading is like adding the finishing touches to a masterpiece. Take your time, be patient, and soon, you'll see your tropical bird spring to life on paper.

Finish with Background Details

Now that your bird is looking fantastic, it's time to complete your drawing by adding some background details. A tropical bird isn't truly tropical without a vibrant, lush environment, right? Let's dive into the final steps of how to draw a detailed tropical bird with vibrant plumage.

  1. Add foliage: Start by sketching out some tropical leaves and flowers around your bird. Remember, they don't have to be perfect. The focus is on the bird, after all. Just make sure they enhance the overall tropical feel of your drawing.
  2. Color in the background: Choose some bright, bold colors to fill in your foliage. Greens, yellows, pinks, and blues can make your environment pop and complement your bird's vibrant plumage.
  3. Detail your elements: Like with the bird, add some texture and shading to your background elements. This could mean adding veins to leaves or shadows beneath flowers. These small details can make a big difference in the overall depth and realism of your drawing.

And there you have it! You've just learned how to draw a detailed tropical bird with vibrant plumage! Remember, practice makes perfect. So, don't be discouraged if your first few attempts don't look exactly like you envisioned. Keep at it, and before you know it, you'll be a pro at drawing tropical birds!

If you enjoyed this step-by-step guide on drawing a tropical bird and want to expand your drawing skills further, explore the workshop 'How to Draw A Fruit In ProCreate' by Vicky Catalan. This workshop will help you learn how to create stunning, detailed drawings of fruits using the ProCreate app, making it a great complementary skill to drawing tropical birds. Happy drawing!