This guide will focus on realistic eagle drawings in four key steps. An eagle drawing or picture means a lot of things for many different people and cultures. Whether it is for fun or for professional reasons, use this opportunity to draw eagle illustrations to showcase to an audience.
From old cultures and new cultures throughout the world, an eagle symbolizes many things that range from freedom and wisdom to authority and power. It really depends on your own interpretation.
As such, leaning how to draw eagles is a good opportunity for you to grow as an artist because it is a majestic animal that people wouldn't mind hanging on their walls.
So take the effort to learn as much as you can about this animal and use the knowledge to create drawings and paintings dedicated to this flying bird of prey. It can only add to your enjoyment of art as well as improving your skill sets.
A simple gesture sketch is a great way to start off any drawing. Any realistic eagle drawings will require a gesture sketch to be done first so you can be sure that the proportions and final form is correct.
For digital art, the gesture sketch plays an important part in muscles and feathers because the random lines generated can be smudged into additional forms without much effort.
This step can be done using two simple layers. The first layer will have the sketch and the second layer will have a neutral color fill of the eagle's shape. Essentially, this will be the shape that you will be painting on.
Once that is done, merge the layers together to keep everything nice and simple. You may want to duplicate and merge several times to make sure the eagle object is as solid as it can be (so all pixels aren't translucent).
As mentioned, you will need to clean up your gesture lines. The best method is to smudge it all together. I recommend a chalk brush for this step as it will allow you to create additional textures based on how hard you press down on the digital stylus.
You will notice that immediately the gesture lines can become sections of feathers or muscle mass. Different size smudge brushes will yield different texture results.
Should any lines smudge in a way that you do not like, you are more than welcomed to erase it. Remember, different brush shapes will yield different textures and results. A solid eraser will give you well defined outlines while a soft eraser will blur the edges.
Once you are satisfied with the overall result, the next step would be to give your eagle more details. I recommend locking down the layer's shape so you don't accidentally paint outside of the object.
Details are best worked from a holistic approach and then broken down into finer details. Ideally, you want to start refining each layer of feathers on the wings. Just glaze on layers using a solid chalk brush very lightly. Do this for the rest of the body.
For smaller feathers, switch to a small pixel brush and do quick lines. It's a bit time consuming but this step will make sure the details are done properly.
For the rest of the bird, continue using a small brush and detail out the beak, eyes, and the claws. If you are having difficulties separating certain textures from others, I would switch to the smudge tool again.
However, instead of smudging, use the smudge tool to paint. First, set the pressure to maximum. Second, use a very small brush. From there, just paint in some details as you normally do. The smudging effect of this setup uses existing colors to redraw finer lines.
This method is also very helpful for creating the fine details found on each individual feather.
Between using the smudge tool technique and your chalk brushes, continue to add as many details as you can. Remember, slight color differences can suggest many layers of feathers without too much effort. So use this fact to your advantage.
The final step would be to add lighting and shadows to the eagle. Since the most common light source is the sun, you would want to target the light source above the eagle.
I find one of the best way to draw light and shadows is to do it on a different layer (preferably a clipping mask if you are using Photoshop) and then merge it later. That way, you can edit and adjust what parts needs to be brought towards the viewer without damaging your eagle object.
Primarily, you want to bring out the thickness of the wings, eyes, and the large legs. Otherwise, darken the underbelly of the eagle since that's where light doesn't hit.
Other options you can use besides regular brushes are the dodge and burn tools. These tools should bring out or darken color without damaging the textures that you have painted.
Not everything has to be done exactly as it is shown. You may have developed your own work-flow that makes sense for you as you followed along. Though, you should have a better understanding and enjoyment of the process it takes to draw something as complicated as an eagle overall.