How to draw feathers

One of the best ways to appreciate the splendour of a feather is by drawing it – follow these simple steps.

Published: February 2nd, 2018 at 2:21 pm

A grey pigeon feather on a city street can be easily overlooked but, when you attempt to draw it, its beauty is revealed.


You will need

Paper – thick textured paper is ideal.

Pen, pencil or ink.

Collection of feathers, such as pigeon, pheasant

or jay.


1. Observe

Take a good look at your feather, noting the curve of the central quill, or rachis, and the many horizontal barbs. Draw a single line for the quill.

2. Outline

Pencil an outline ofthe barbs. Your aim here is to capture the overall shape of the feather – the proportions don’t need to be perfect.

3. Add the rachis

Along the length of the rachis, sketch several detailed barbs. If the barbs have split from one another, include these, erasing the outline, where necessary.

4. Sketch the barbs

Add any downy barbs to the base, then draw an extra line to widen the rachis – this should slowly taper as it works its way towards the feather’s tip.

5. Pen for depth

Leave it as a pencil sketch or pen over the lines to make the features stand out more. And that’s it, a simple line drawing of a feather.


‘How to draw a feather’ is an extract from Making Winter by Emma Mitchell (LOM Art, £14.99).


Emma MitchellNaturalist and author

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