Featured guest artist Nova Howe shows us how to create a photorealistic owl using easy pencil sketch techniques. Follow along to learn new tips and tricks for sketching with pencil!
Start with a basic outline using your reference picture (you can use either size pencil, I used the Nobby 3mm pencil). Make sure your pencil sketch is light and not too dark because you won't be using most of those straight lines later on.
Color the pupils first, making them as dark as possible and leaving a bit of it white for the light reflections (I used the Nobby 6mm pencil for this step to cover more area in less time). Next, color in the entire eye very lightly, and then use your finger to smudge it to give it a smoother look.
Color the very top of the eye as dark as you can then gradually fade it in with the rest of the eye. And once you smudge it, there’s no need to keep doing it every time you want to blend it because the pencils are just that good at giving it the soft and smooth look!
For the beak, start by very lightly coloring the whole beak and then use your finger to smudge it. Next color the nose holes, the tip and sides and top of the beak as dark as you can, then shade it into the bridge of the beak. Look at the next picture to see how it turns out because it’s a little hard to see on this one.
For this step lightly color the entire face and smudged it, making the areas under the eyes and the forehead/chin area slightly darker. Then color the parts circled in black really dark (you’ll come back and fix it up later).
For these steps with the feathers, it's easiest to start with coloring the darkest parts first then adding in the shaded area later (it’s kind of hard to see in the picture, but I did sort of a zigzag pattern). Make sure to keep looking at the reference picture because it’ll make things a lot easier!
After making the zigzag pattern, with slight/medium pressure, shade it a bit to lessen the contrast between the light and dark. Also, add in the individual feathers by either making V-shapes or simple lines (as shown at the top in blue). And don’t worry about trying to make it look exactly like the picture.
Now for the fluffy feathers in the chin area, I found that it was easiest to draw out the basic shapes first as pictured, and once you've done that, color in the cross-hatched area as dark as you can. Then start lightly shading and blending in more feathers (also look at the next picture to help you with the shading part). Make sure to especially shade the base of the feathers (not the tips) to give it more of a fluffy look.
For the forehead area and the next few steps, you'll pretty much do the same thing as the chin area. This is what it looks like once you color in the really dark parts and before you start to shade and blend it. Make the basic shapes, it looks a little weird now but with the power of shading it’ll look awesome!
This is what it looks like once it's shaded. Notice how I only shade the base of the feathers. It makes it look like there’s more depth and it looks like the feathers are sticking out.
For the area around the bottom of the beak, I used cross-hatching to give the thin feathers as overlapping look. The mustache looking part was pretty simple: draw lines that only go in one direction (no cross-hatching for this part) and make sure not to make the lines too dark or else it’ll take away from the fluffy look.
Now for the parts boxed in green, I did the same thing as the chin and forehead area except with much less of the really dark parts. I mostly lightly shaded for this part, and like with the forehead area, I just shaded the base of the feathers to make it more 3D looking.
Have fun exploring more pencil art in the Nobby Inspire Section!