Realistic Owl Drawings in 4 Steps With Photoshop

Owl drawings are an awesome addition for scary or morbid themes. Just think of any dark environment and you will find this animal. This guide will teach you what you need to learn how to draw an owl and create a realistic owl drawing for your very own.

Since owls are nocturnal creatures with the ability to see very well in the dark with their large fixated eyes, is it not common that owls can symbolize sorcery, evil, and even death in most cultures as they stare into the night.

Hence, artists that want to create concept art or illustrations showing these types of themes will do well in incorporating this animal in their illustrations to add to the dark mood.

Aside from that, there is also enjoyment to be found in drawing this animal because there will be a sense of accomplishment from drawing such a complicated animal. When you are ready to start, open up a blank canvas and follow along.

Sketching realistic owl drawings

Always break down anything you are drawing into manageable shapes like squares, circles, and triangles. These will allow you calculate overall proportions and shape. First, create a layer for you to begin your gesture sketch.

For an owl drawing, sketch in the noticeable facial discs and sharp beak. Even a pose will help. For example, your owl can be resting on a tree branch. Next, create a second layer underneath your gesture sketch and fill it with a neutral color.

realistic wwl drawings step 1 from

Add some simple lights and shadows to separate the wings, body, and head from one another. Once you have an idea of the overall pose of the owl, merge the two layers together and clean up some of the lines.

I also recommend duplicating and merging the owl object many times so you have a solid shape to thicken up the owl object layer. This procedure just makes sure you can't see anything underneath the owl object.

Smudging the realistic owl drawings

Smudging your owl does a few things. First, it blends the gesture lines into the drawing. Second, it creates additional color values. Third, you will get new textures depending on the type of brush that you use.

For example, a smudge brush using a splatter brush head can create little traces of feathers while a chalk brush can create bits of fur. Use different brush types to your advantage to create the textures you need.

realistic wwl drawings step 2 from

This step will also require you to start drawing out little details in your owl. By now, you should be blocking in some of the feathers. There are four layers on the wing.

It is important to start adding a bit of shadows to the legs and branches to signify the direction of light while toning the overall shape. Details should be secondary to getting all the characteristics of an owl first.

Detailing realistic owl drawings

Details are fairly simple when you go from larger details to smaller details. First, lock down the shape of the owl object. This is to make sure any rogue brush strokes do not accidentally go outside the object's boundaries.

Start detailing out the feathers on the wings and tail using long strokes. Anytime you need to refine some of the feathers, switch to smaller and smaller brushes. For the body and face, use short bursts of simple lines.

realistic wwl drawings step 3 from

Fill in the pupil of the eyes and make sure the eyes are as round as possible because owl eyes are fixed in position. Also, refine the beak to be as sharp as possible while detailing out the skin in the feet using simple lines.

If you ever run into issues with sections of the body not being separated, what you can do is use the smudge tool, put it on 100% pressure and pick the smallest brush. Drawing with the smudge tool with 100% pressure create boundaries of color and texture much easier.

Shading realistic owl drawings

For your patterns, I recommend doing it on a different layer. This way, you have options to play with layer opacity as well as making sure that this is the pattern you like (optional: turn the layer into a clipping mask so it conforms to the owl object if you are using Photoshop).

The patterns are easily done using a chalk brush and painting in a 'zigzag' pattern horizontally across the body. The patterns are larger around the wings and chest but are smaller around the legs.

realistic wwl drawings step 4 from

There are smaller patterns around the face as well. Adjust the layer opacity if the patterns are too strong as you don't want to lose the details under it. After that, use the sharpen tool to bring out more details.

Clean up any bad lines. Lighten up or darken down parts of the body using the dodge and burn tools. For example, brighten up the body and legs while darkening the wings. For the face, lighten the areas around the beak and eyes.

As mentioned, while it may look difficult at first, breaking it down into smaller parts makes the entire process manageable. It really can be that easy to draw owls.

At the end of the day, whether you are doing this for your own enjoyment or aiming for something more, the skills and tools you have learned and applied here should only serve to make you into a better artist.