Eagle Cartoon Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

Being a very popular animal, an eagle cartoon drawing can be seen anywhere. From decorative crests, animations, signs, icons, seals, and stamps, there are countless ways to draw a cartoon eagle and just as many ways that it can be used in media around us.

Completing a cartoon drawing in Photoshop is an opportunity to depict this majestic bird in a flexible digital format that can be used for almost anything. Since it is a cartoon, there is a lot of leeway in how the bird can be simplified.

Out of all the features that distinguish it from other birds, the most striking features of an eagle is the curved beak and powerful legs. Most of the time, an eagle will be drawn with the head tilted to one side instead of facing forward to show the beak.

For the feet, some artists like to draw the eagle with its feet spread open instead of perched to emphasize the its gripping capabilities through size. The drawing in this guide will use these premises to create the eagle cartoon drawing.

Sketching the eagle cartoon drawing

The sketch will go through a series of shapes to roughly define the eagle. On a new layer in Photoshop, begin the process of identifying the shape needed for the head, wings, legs, and body. Each of these areas will look at changing the proportions of the eagle slightly.

As we want to emphasize the beak, draw a circle for the head that is slightly larger than normal when compared to the main body. Triangles are used to show the ends of where the wings and tail areas are. For the beak and legs, a squares and trapezoids work the best to emphasize a strong stance.

eagle cartoon drawing step 1 from cgattic.ca

After the trapezoid beak is drawn, divide it horizontally to form the upper and lower beak. Then, divide it again, this time vertically, to define where the nose area is located. Fill in a rough circle to indicate the eyes and nostrils.

Just like the head, the feet is drawn larger than normal to emphasize the talons. This can be blocked in with long rectangles. When these major areas are done, continue with drawing sections of feather to define the wing a bit better.

The eagle cartoon drawing line art

There are many ways to refine the line drawing. Artists can work with sketch directly or they can trace over the sketch on a different layer. When doing the line drawing, a brush that has a hard edge is preferred to get a clean effect.

Start with the head and work down slowly. Rough angled lines on the beak become rounded lines. The goal is to create a series of curves based on the sketch. Keep the beak area isolated from the rest of the head. Continue downwards to work on the body and feet.

eagle cartoon drawing step 2 from cgattic.ca

As it is a cartoon, The trick is not to draw everything. Aside from primary and some secondary feathers, just have enough details for the wings. It is OK to add some straight lines to show the divisions on the tail feathers.

The legs are the easiest part. As it is thick, just a square shape is enough. As for the talons, isolate the claw from the rest of the foot as it fans out from the base of the thick legs. Do not worry about the complicated textures on the feet.

Filling in the eagle cartoon drawing

The line drawing is what makes coloring easy. When looking at all the possible areas of the eagle, use the lines to isolate specific sections so it doesn't interfere with one another. The advantage is that it will allow the magic wand to select a section without overflowing to another area.

Since I am drawing an American bald eagle, on a separate layer, I fill it in completely with a dark grey. To get the shape of the eagle back, I return back to the line drawing and use the magic wand tool to select the void areas outside the eagle. Then, I switch back to my grey layer and delete the lassoed area.

eagle cartoon drawing step 3 from cgattic.ca

There's a simple decision to make here. Is it better to fill out the remaining colors on a separate layer or keep it all on the same layer? Either method is fine. The former method is slower but allows for more control over the colored patches.

Anyway, this simple process of adding color in controlled chucks is repeated multiple times depending on the specie. For the bald eagle, the areas I isolated based on color is yellow for the beak and legs; light grey for the tail and head; and a dark brown for the perch.

Shading the eagle cartoon drawing

We're now on the home stretch! Having filled in with the background colors, the final step would be to add in these extra bonus details. This step is completely optional as some use case scenarios may require just the eagle cartoon drawing's base colors to be filled in.

Artists looking to add an extra touch of flair or their own special take on the bird, details will bring out the cartoon style even more. First, lock down the layer or layers that contain the base color. This will prevent accidentally coloring out the eagle's intended shape.

eagle cartoon drawing step 4 from cgattic.ca

Start with the dodge or burn tools. This tool will darken or brighten up the colors based on pressure sensitivity and blend mode. Set the brush tip to a large round soft brush. Use this brush to glaze over large chunks of color for shading purposes.

Smaller areas like the shading on the feet will require a bit of manual coloring. Using a chalk brush, block in a lighter color where the light will hit. Repeat this step with the yellows found on the beak. The biggest challenge will come from defining the wings.

Slowly but surely, work on the wings by blocking in small traces of feathers on the empty part of the wing. After that, work on the small shadows on the tail to signify the overlapping of the wings on top. Lastly, work on the textures of the perch.

Any other global details can be handled by Photoshop's layer styles. A 'gradient overlay' will apply a nice smooth transition of light to dark shading whereas an 'outer glow' layer style will create a nice rim light. When finished, save an export the drawing to be used on whatever tickles your fancy!