A realistic hummingbird drawing teaches a lot of new skills like drawing feather textures, motion blurring, and texture separation using lighting effects. This guide will focus on these concept through showing how to draw a hummingbird realistically in motion while keeping the rest of the bird static.
First, feathers can come in various sizes. Alternating dark and light patches will create feather textures found on most birds. From there, drawing simple light lines is a great way to separate each feather. It's an easy way to simulate feather textures.
Blurring is a common drawing technique used to introduce motion. The key here is to find a pivot point where the motion begins and then fan out the drawing from there. This will be practiced using the wings of your realistic hummingbird drawing.
Then, in order to create depth, using light and dark values will separate what will be in the foreground versus the background. This is usually done by glazing large areas of a drawing with either a light color or a dark color.
All drawings should begin with a simple gesture sketch. The sketch will primarily focus on the overall form of the bird and can be done using a simple small brush. Just simple circles and lines will do as long as no details are added.
A hummingbird is usually characterized by a long beak, short straight wings, tiny feet, and a head that is relatively larger than most birds. It is this type of proportions that create that sense of cuteness in an animal.
After the gesture drawing is done, create another layer underneath the sketch and fill it in with a solid neutral color. After that, merge the two layers together. The purpose here is to create an object with zero transparency.
Once that is done, consider preserving the shape. There is a check box in the layer panel to allow you to toggle this option to lock the shape. Locking down this newly created object will allow you to draw within its confines without fear of distorting the object by accident.
Smudging plays a huge part in bringing the hummingbird to life. Blending in color values require soft smudging while altering details will require hard smudging. Both of these can be adjusted using a slider in the brush options of your drawing software.
Defining feathers on the wings, tails, and the overall outline of the animal can easily done with hard smudging. However, when working with soft feathers in the body, it's best to soft smudge these areas as you want to create an illusion of fluff.
Adjusting the size of the smudge brushes can also yield different results. The smaller the brush, the more details you can form. The idea is to work using larger smudge brushes and then slowly decrease the size to work on the details.
Throughout this entire process, toggle off and on the ability to lock the shape. This is to help control the entire outline as you smudge. When you are finished, clean up any extra gesture lines so you can work on the next step of adding more details.
All that work with the initial sketch to smart smudging has allowed you to create an excellent base to add details. From here on forwards, you need to detail the feathers and create the motion in the wings. Tool wise, a fine brush is used for details while a round brush is used for smudging.
Using a small brush, draw in little segmented curves on the head. Each curve is meant to distinguish fine short feathers. Around the body, draw longer lines to distinguish elongated feathers starting from the neck down. Continue to draw long lines to separate the tail feathers.
For motion, smudge using a large round brush. Press lightly around where the shoulders of the wings are and then fan out the wings. Make sure the object's shape is not locked so the pixels on the edge of the wings get smudged properly.
While minimal effort is required due to its simplicity, continue working on the details on th beak and the legs. Erase out any other gesture lines to further define the talons. This will create better realism. Once everything is done, the final step would involve shading the entire hummingbird.
Shading defines more than just light and shadow. It also defines what is in the background and what is in the foreground. Technique wise, it is done with a large round brush either on the layer itself or on a separate layer.
If you are drawing directly on the layer, just lock the layer down and glaze in large areas of a light value to show direction of a light source. Sometimes you may need to isolate areas, such as the wing in the background, using a lasso.
Another technique is to adjust values using the dodge and burn tool. With it, you can adjust sections of the drawing by darkening or lighting it. While the tool does its best to mitigate changes to the actual textures, it can alter it in a way that requires redrawing should it dodge or burn too much.
If you are using Photoshop, this program presents a cool layering option called a clipping mask (a separate layer that confines to the object underneath). This is a non destructive editing tool that allows you to draw light and shadow without damage the drawing underneath.
Since the clipping mask is a layer, you can also adjust the blend mode to further emphasize the lighting and shadows. Again, this is only option and only if you have Photoshop. It just helps you want to play around with shading before finalizing it.
After that, you can sharpen the drawing by using the sharpen filter when you are done. This will help bring out more additional feather details. If details become too sharp, bring it back with the blur tool. This should complete your realistic hummingbird drawing.