How to Draw Wings


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STEP 1. Welcome to my "How to Draw Wings" tutorial. Let's start by taking a look at some basic wings from a bird and a bat. These are probably the two most common wings out there. They can be found on countless real and mythical creatures, as well as fantasy characters. These basic steps should be considered every time you draw wings on anything. Without the proper basic structure, your drawings won't be as believable as they could be. Remember that beneath every wing, feathered or skin-covered, there lies flesh and bone. Start from the inside and work your way out.   STEP 2. Before you even begin to draw wings on a creature, you have to figure out how they'll attach. For birds or bats, the wings are actually their forelimbs, in place of legs or arms. For angels, demons or other creatures that have wings in addition to forelimbs, the thinking is pretty much the same. Attach the wings to the shoulder area (more specifically on the shoulder blade). This will always give your creature a more natural look, even if this type of anatomy doesn't occur in nature, and even if you're using a cartoony style.   STEP 3. Wing placement isn't always limited to the shoulder blades, though. Depending on the subject matter, you can place wings *almost* anywhere, so long as it makes some sort of sense. A character could wear wings on their helmet or armor. They might even have wings growing from different parts of the body. Marvel's Namor has wings on his ankles. Other characters have wings growing from their pelvis. The trick is to understand the basic anatomy of bones and to find a believable attachment point somewhere on the human or animal body.   STEP 4. Insect wings are quite a bit different than bird or bat wings. Do some research. Look at photos. Go outside and look at real, living creatures. Once you start to really understand how different types of wings work, you'll be able to visualize the anatomy in your head and have a much easier time drawing them.   STEP 5. Something else you might want to try is designing wings with atypical construction and materials, such as plants, coral or even rock. It might not make sense with standard physics, but with a little imagination, I suppose anything's possible ;) Here I drew examples of rock/crystal wings, spider web wings and plant wings.   STEP 6. Now let's take a closer look at constructing wings. We'll start with feathered bird wings. To begin, draw the three anatomical sections of the bird's forelimb. I want to just say "Draw a chicken wing!" You know, like fried chicken. That's literally what this is. So think of the food item when you're drawing bird wings. It's actually easier to visualize that than to work from anatomical diagrams.   STEP 7. Next we want to lay out three rows, where the feathers will be. I used to only draw cartoon wings with cloud-like feathers, so learning the proper placement of feathers has been a challenge for me. The feathers closer to the bone are shorter, and those furthest away are longer and wider. Small, medium, large. Notice how the curve of the "finger" is continued toward the tip of the top feather. From that line, each row of feathers curves back toward the "armpit" area. The red guide lines show the directions our feathers will be facing. Each feather is technically at a different angle, and they all fan out from their attachment points on the "arm." Think of a Japanese folding fan.   STEP 8. Either lightly erase the underdrawing or use an overlay to draw the finished line art. This is going to be a slightly more fantasy wing, so we'll start out by detailing the fleshy appendage of our friend, here. I used repetition of shapes in various places to mimic a feather pattern.   STEP 9. Now for the first row of feathers. This bunch is made from oodles of tiny feathers, clumped together in a poofy, fluffy... I forgot the word I was going to use. *shakes head* Anyway, rather than draw every feather, we'll simplify by only drawing the outer edge for now. Make sure these tiny shapes overlap each other. They should be less orderly than the larger feathers to come. Naturally, all birds have different feathers, so be sure to use reference material if you're drawing a specific bird.   STEP 10. Use simple strokes to draw the tips on the middle row of feathers. They remind me of the blade on a butter knife. Remember the Japanese folding fan (the wooden kind). Draw long curves from the inside of the wing outward to define the separation between feathers. There's no need to outline each feather perfectly. That would make the drawing look very flat. For the third row of feathers, break up the edges with some fraying. This will add some texture to the drawing.   STEP 11. For the final step, use short dashes to indicate the fibers on some of the feathers. Again, there's no need to draw each one. Just indicate. Fluff out the smallest row with a few extra feathers here and there. Add some more scratches and bumps to the fleshy part, and this feathered wing is complete!   STEP 12. The finished pair of wings.   STEP 13. Now let's tackle drawing some bat wings. These could also be dragon wings if you wish. The basic concept is that bat wings are big hands with long, skinny fingers, and webbed skin inbetween. To start, we basically want to draw an arm. Here I added an extra section, but you could consider that the shoulder blade if this we actually attached to something... Next we draw the three basic shapes of the hand. Look at your own hand. Theres the lump attached to the thumb, the lump on the opposite side, and then there's "the rest of it." I try to simplify whenever I can :) The palm is rather small here, but the fingers are anything but. Draw the "thumb" as a hook-like shape pointing upward. Then draw the first digit of each "finger." On a drawing of a realistic bat, this would be the longest digit, but we're going to take some creative license here.   STEP 14. Next draw the remaining digits of the "fingers." Each finger comes to a point at the end. These will become claws when we add detail later. Note how the first finger is much shorter than the rest. Interesting...   STEP 15. This is the fun part, where the wing finally takes shape. After adding some details to the arm, use large curves to draw the skin between each finger. Leave some room at the end of each finger for the claws.   STEP 16. Here's where we can add all the optional detail we want. I really wanted to add some veins in the webbed skin, so that was the first thing I did. In general, you want to remember to add straight wrinkles to show where the skin is folded (toward the palm) and where it's stretched (toward the claws). Add little tears and scratches to the wings for a scarier look. Finish up by drawing wrinkles and spots on the arm, and feel free to draw some stray hairs (for a mammal) or scales (for a reptile).   STEP 17. The finished bat wings. I added some extra mini-wings just for fun.   STEP 18. Our last wing for this tutorial will be a fantasy wing with insectoid features. The basic shape will be similar to the bird wing from earlier. First we need to draw the structure of the "arm."   STEP 19. Next add a row of blade-like shapes. These will actually be armor plates, but will mimic the look of feathers.   STEP 20. Here we draw the blades that make up the wing itself. We want these to look like feathers for now, but they'll be transformed when we add details.   STEP 21. To bulk out the "arm," first draw some armored plates stack on the "knuckle" "elbow" joint. Then draw curved lines flowing down the shape to its base. Use overlapping folds and wrinkles to give this shape a sense of dimension.   STEP 22. Outline the armored "feathers" and draw ornamental swirls to break up the blank spaces in the drawing. These designs can blend into the wrinkles of the arm.   STEP 23. Now we'll detail the "finger" shape. I wanted this part to feel more fleshy and organic, as opposed to the armor on the rest of the arm. This isn't much more than a gnarled mess of folds and wrinkles, but notice how the tip hooks inward. This will hold the main blade of the wing in place for stability while flying.   STEP 24. Finally we outline the individual blades of the wing and add details within each of them. Starting on the largest blade, break up the shape with long curves. Then cut across the grain to form rounded, rectangular "cells." Although we're not outlining every cell, this will make our blade resemble a dragonfly wing. It's important to repeat these details as closely as possible from one blade to the next. The repetition of shapes will look great. If each blade has different details, the drawing will become cluttered and hard to "read." Finish it up by drawing some runic designs on each blade.   STEP 25. The finished insect wings. I doubled the wings so they can support a massive creature. I guess that wraps up this tutorial! I had a lot of fun working on this. Check out the colors in the preview image up at the top, and be sure to post your drawings when you're done. Thanks for reading!   Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 5. Step 6. Step 7. Step 8. Step 9. Step 10. Step 11. Step 12. Step 13. Step 14. Step 15. Step 16. Step 17. Step 18. Step 19. Step 20. Step 21. Step 22. Step 23. Step 24. Step 25.