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A Feathery Focus: Painting A Bald Eagle Portrait

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Step 1: Sketching A Bird Of Prey


Let’s switch it up in this tutorial by painting an animal; more specifically, a bald eagle. Bill has taken a picture of a stuffed one in a museum in Nevada, that has been composed so the eagle’s pose looks more dramatic and intense.

To begin, tape the edges of the paper block using artist’s or masking tape. This creates a clean border around for future framing purposes, and keeps the paper as flat as possible while painting. Next, do a simple outline sketch of this bald eagle portrait, starting with the head. Like a human portrait, the focus should remain with the head and eye’s expression, so take your time to get them right. Go as slow as you need, and plan out the proportions and measurements to scale with the reference picture.

Lastly, add the wings and body, and some feather details. Leave most details out though, as you can always draw them with a paintbrush later.

Below is a close-up of Bill’s sketch: