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How to Draw an Owl

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

An owl is a symbol of wisdom and mystery. Aren’t these birds gorgeous?

But drawing an owl may seem overwhelming: it 's hard to decide where to start and how to find the right proportions. In this tutorial, I’ll show you an easy way to draw an owl with a graphite pencil and ink liners.

We’ll also consider the principles of layering ink hatches, and observe how to create a beautiful effect of fading in our artwork.

As a result, we’ll get an impressive nature-inspired drawing!

You may also be interested in this great article:

What You Will Need

  • An ink liner number 0.3
  • An ink liner number 0.1
  • An ink liner number 0.05
  • A graphite pencil (I recommend using a B or HB type)
  • A sheet of thick drawing paper
The art supplies I will be using

1. How to Draw an Owl With a Graphite Pencil

Step 1

I draw a vertical core line that divides the future owl’s figure into halves; it will be our reference point for the measurements. Then I mark the side borders of the bird’s head and body.

It is useful to follow the principles of symmetry when you are drawing animals. Just keep in mind that there is nothing perfectly symmetrical in the natural world.

Drawing the core line

Step 2

I draw the rough shapes of the head and body, using light pencil lines. 

Adding the shapes of the head and body

Step 3

The eyes are located on a line that is slightly below the central point of the owl’s head. The core line helps me to measure the equal distance.

The interval between the eyes is close to the width of one eye.

Adding the eyes shapes

Step 4

I draw a rough shape of the beak. It looks similar to a triangle with two rounded corners.

Drawing the shape of the beak

Step 5

I add the prominent shapes that resemble stylized ears (the ear tufts).

Drawing the ear tufts

Step 6

I draw the pupils and add the divergent lines of feathers above the eyes.

Refining the eyes abd the birds face

Step 7

I refine the feathery pattern on the owl’s face, also known as the facial disc.

Refining the facial disk of the owl

Step 8

I draw the smaller details of the beak and the ear tufts.

Adding the small details

Step 9

I add the wings to the body.

Drawing the wings

Step 10

I draw the framework of the feet.

The feet have four fingers each, but the back fingers hide behind; they help the bird to take up a stable position.

Drawing the framework of the feet

Step 11

I add the hooked claws and refine the shapes of the fingers.

Adding the claws

Step 12

I draw the contours of the tree using varying, organic lines.

Outlining the tree

Step 13

I add three groups of leaves. They will make the composition more interesting.

Drawing the leaves

Step 14

I add the groups of pencil hatches to mark the pattern of the owl’s feathering.

Creating the pattern of the owls body

2. How to Create Layers of Hatching With Ink

Step 1

In this part of the tutorial, we’ll pay particular attention to the hatching techniques.

Creating layers of hatches is an excellent way to make an illusion of texture, increase the contrast and accentuate the three-dimensional look of the objects in the drawing.

Here is a sample of the inclined hatching, made with the 0.1 ink liner; this will be our base.

Simple inclined hatching

Step 2

I add a new layer of hatching with the 0.05 liner. The lines can overlap the existing hatches, or they can be located in the gaps between them. 

The lines of different widths combined in one drawing always look attractive.

Adding another layer of hatching

Step 3

With the 0.05 liner, I add the rounded cross-hatches. You are not limited by the number of hatching layers!

Adding the cross-hatching

Step 4

With the 0.3 liner, I apply horizontal hatches. As you can see, the more layers of lines I use, the more contrasting and intense my sample becomes.

Darkening the sample with new layers of hatching

3. How to Draw an Owl With Ink Liners

Step 1

With the 0.3 ink liner, I mark the dark sports of the feathering.

Marking the dark spots

Step 2

I continue to add the groups of short lines, using the 0.3 liner.

Adding more ink hatches

Step 3

With the 0.3 liner, I draw the pupils. The eyes become dark and contrasting.

I also mark the shadows in the plumage.

Drawing the eyes of the owl

Step 4

I add the thin hatches, using the 0.05 ink liner. The lines go from the center of the bird’s face to its sides.

Working on the birds head

Step 5

I mark the outer circles in the eyes, using the 0.05 liner. 

Small dots and short hatches help me to accentuate the eyes without oversaturating the artwork.

Making the eyes look three-dimensional

Step 6

I work on the feathering, using the 0.05 ink liner. I place new hatches in the gaps between the existing ones.

Working on the feathering with a thin liner

Step 7

With the 0.3 liner, I make the contours of the owl’s feet and outline the tree.

Outlining the tree

Step 8

I draw the pattern of the bark, using the 0.3 liner. I also add groups of hatches to create shadows.

Creating the pattern of the bark

Step 9

I draw the leaves with the 0.1 ink liner. I use thin, light lines so that the leaves won’t distract the viewers' attention from the owl.

I also add some hatching to the tree to make it look more three-dimensional.

Drawing the leaves

Step 10

I add short hatches to the sides of the bird’s fingers and strengthen the shadow near the feet. We get an instant three-dimensional look!

I also add more hatches to the owl’s body, using the 0.1 ink liner.

Working on the feet

Step 11

I increase the contrast in my drawing. With the 0.1 liner, I add groups of hatches, paying special attention to the sides of the bird, and mark the contours.

Increasing the contrast

Step 12

I work on the owl’s head, making it more realistic. With the 0.05 ink liner, I accentuate the facial disk with an additional layer of hatching.

Accenting the facial disc

Step 13

I accentuate the shadow under the bird’s beak, using the 0.05 liner. I also add short hatches to the sides of the beak.

Working on the beak with thin lines

Step 14

I add a layer of the cross-hatching to the owl’s body, using the 0.05 ink liner.

Adding the cross-hatching layer

Step 15

With the 0.3 liner, I create the dark accents in the feathering.

Darkening the pattern pf the feathering

Step 16

I increase the contrast in the lower part of the drawing and strengthen the shadows there, using the 0.1 liner.

Working on the contrast in the drawing

Step 17

I apply the cross-hatching to the tree, using the 0.1 liner.

Apply the cross hatching to the tree

Step 18

With the 0.05 liner, I add one more layer of hatching to the bark.

As a final touch, I emphasize the contour of the branch with a wider line.

Completing the artwork

Your Artwork Is Complete!

Congratulations, you've finished the drawing! I hope you enjoyed both the process and the result. Please share your artwork in the comments!

I wish you much joy and success in mastering ink techniques! 

How to Draw an Owl Tutorial
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