Realistic Duck Drawing in 4 Steps With Photoshop

A realistic duck drawing is a fun way to show the importance this bird has on most cultures. From the bird's consumable qualities to the humorous depictions in cartoons, duck drawings plays an important part in our social world.

This lesson will help you understand the basic shape of a duck through a realistic drawing. The guide will always begin with simple shapes and colors so you can focus on generating a shape to be detailed in.

One of the hardest parts about a realistic duck drawing is the color bands. Unlike other birds, color belongs on noticeable patches on the animal. A beginners may want to draw the different color patches first. However, it would be better to leave that until the final steps.

With just a few different brushes and simple drawing tools, we will break down the drawing steps into manageable chucks that focuses on form, feather/skin textures, values, and lighting.

Sketching the realistic duck drawing

To start, form a gesture drawing showing the general shape of the animal on a new layer. The right proportions will require some measuring based on circular shapes and can include making sure the animal has a long neck, curved beak, and short tail feathers.

One key point to note are the legs. Ducks will have legs that are closer to the rear than most birds to help with propelling the animal through the water. It is a natural adaptation that you will need to portray in your duck drawings.

realistic duck drawing step 1 from

Unless the wings are outstretched, the wings can be drawn with a sharp tip. Also make a note that the tail can blend in with the wings. Other than that, the feet can be initially blocked in as you can always use this rough sketch to refine the webbed feet afterwards.

When you are done, take a step back and see if the overall form is there. Does it have all the curves and proportions that creates this bird? Compare it with photographs if necessary and review. Otherwise, move on to smoothening out the duck drawing.

Smudging the realistic duck drawing

Having all those lines in the gesture drawing can be intimidating and messy at first as sometimes you are not sure how to turn it into something that resembles a realistic drawing. Don't worry though, this can be easily remedied with the smudge brush.

Just by selecting this brush, the goal here is to blur all the lines together to form additional textures. A smooth brush will generally create blurry edges while a hard chalk brush will create more 'furry' edges and color as seen in the tail areas.

realistic duck drawing step 2 from

Once all the blending is done, you can start looking at creating simple shadows to create weight in your duck drawing. For example, start with the base of the neck and how it connects to the body. You can block in some shading to make the main body stand out.

If you are satisfied with how to blend in the gesture lines, consider cleaning up the entire outline a bit with the eraser tool. This should help you define the form even further by correcting any unwanted smudging.

Detailing the realistic duck drawing

Locking down the shape of the duck will make detailing here a lot easier as you don't need to worry about lines going outside of the object. Most of the detailed work here will be done using various sizes of the chalk brush and the smudge tool.

Using a lighter color, utilize any shaped chalk brushes to block in the eyes, feet, and feathered areas throughout the overall body. The key here is to alternate between long and short strokes to define long feathers found on the wing versus a feathery coat on the rest of the body.

realistic duck drawing step 3 from

To create more details like feather veins and thick skin on the feet, switch to a high pressured smudge tool with a very small brush head to smudge out little details. Other areas to use these small brush heads are the claws found on the toes and the tail feathers.

Once the details are done, swap back to a larger chalk brush to block in different patches of color found on the wings. An alternative method to do this part is to use the dodge and burn tools to highlight or darken the patches.

Shading the realistic duck drawing

Adding realism requires finishing off the color patches found on your duck. Generally speaking, you can do a global filter that alters the contrast of the values all at once. Otherwise, focus on painting lighting details to create weight.

Most lighting can be done with a round soft brush. Once again, lock the layer down and start painting the lighting and shadows.

realistic duck drawing step 4 from

The areas that you can focus on is giving the duck drawing a ground shadow and little bits of shadowing underneath overlapping feathers around the tail region. For the back, just glaze in a large light color, that confines to the curvature of the back, to signify direction of the light source.

Another tool you can consider is the sharpening tool. This tool will help bring out the smaller feathers even further. The advantage is that it can create extra layers of feathers with minimal work so long as you are careful about the areas you are sharpening up.

Lastly, use the dodge and burn tools to further isolate the neck from the rest of body. If your duck is a mallard, consider using this tool to add in a white band on the neck. You can also use this tool to highlight and bring out the beak.

Overall, from here on out, continue to work on any details out of place. I hope you enjoyed this realistic duck drawing guide. The tips here should help you a lot with drawing in general as it can be broken down to these simple phases of construction.