To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Workbook ~ Drawing Eagles, Hawks & Owls!

It's ready!
I redid (totally) the Drawing Raptors book into the Drawing Eagles, Hawks & Owls Workbook, and I expect it's going to be popular. If I hadn't written it, I might want to buy it m'self {grin}. Actually, it's the birds that make it so attractive. Talk about scene stealers.

Looks as though it's taking me about a month to prepare these workbooks. I thought they'd go a lot faster, but I don't want to do a slap-dash-hope-it-works kind of job, so.....

There's a lot of meat in this one. It is probably most useful for intermediate artists, although a determined beginner could probably do just fine with it. As usual, I suggest starting out first with the Nature Sketching Basics Workbook to get a good grounding in basic drawing techniques (by the way, I've decided to leave Nature Sketching Basics at the lower $9.95 price indefinitely so people won't hesitate to start out with it, the price being so reasonable).

Most people
have trouble drawing birds because they can't quite envision the bird's structure underneath those feathers and how it affects the way the bird stands, moves and flies. I know it made a lot of difference to my bird drawings after I tucked some bird anatomy into my skull.

So I've put in a couple of skeleton diagrams (one is actually flying) from my days of working at the Fish & Wildlife Forensics Lab years ago. And I've gone into detail about how the eyes work so that the artist can figure out how to position them in the raptor's face. There are pages about wings and feathers, talons and foot scales and tails ~ how they work and how to draw them, plus the three obligatory pages of Sketching Basics,
Drawing Tips, and Shading Principles.

The best part, to me, was reconstructing a sketching session I'd had with a horned owl last year.
I included a 3-page step-by-step tutorial on the making of the owl's portrait (along with photos I'd serendipitously taken at the time), including my thought processes as I went through each step. There's another tutorial on how to get the best sketches when working with a moving target, with a page out of one of my sketchbooks showing my process with a wiggly screech owl.

And if you know anything about my teaching style, you'll expect me to have included some practice with eye, foot, and beak templates to help you jump-start your sketching process.

The idea is that
, like a musician, if you memorize your scales and practice your fingering, you will have the basics for quickly learning a music piece. If you start out with no practice, it will take you ages to figure out each tune. So yes, there are templates up the kazoo.

There are also some good feather exercises,
to give you some "stock movements" for quick creation of feathers. You can change it to fit the situation, but you already know how to draw that feather texture, so a slight twitch will give you a brand-new look.

There's even a bit on note-taking as you sketch. I just have to include a note I found next to a sketch I made of a young vulture.
I'd completely forgotten about it (well, it WAS twenty years ago) but when I read it the whole scene came flooding back: "...defensive sound, much like a man snoring or water going very fast down drain -- a rattling hiss. 3-4 seconds on, 1-2 seconds off, continuous when very upset." I not only could recall the sound, but also remembered that I did a super-quick outline then withdrew from the enclosure where I'd been sketching so that the little guy could relax again. I got the rest of it by peeking at it through a crack in the door. Even so, it has to be one of my favorite sketches of all time.

I know that people who download this workbook will be eager to go out and sketch eagles and hawks and
owls, but I strongly suggest doing a bit of preparation and learning some stuff at home before going out to sketch live raptors, particularly if someone is going to be holding the bird on the fist while you draw.

Knowing the basics will make it a much more enjoyable session with vastly better results than if you go into it cold. I speak from experience, and from the experience of my students ~ they always wished we'd been able to schedule at least another day of workshop to practice drawing the birds from photos before we went to the raptor rehab place to draw.

To that end, I've included a gallery of copyright-free photos of
hawk, eagle and owl for the artist to practice on. These are pictures I took myself at Wildlife Images (see the previous blog entry), so I have full control over their copyright. This eagle is a sample, as is the owl photo above.

The hardest part of creating Drawing Eagles
Hawks & Owls was having to leave a lot of really cool stuff out. For instance, I really wanted to include these little sawwhet owls in the workbook, but there just wasn't enough room. So here they are just for fun. Aren't they sweet?

So there you are, the latest in my Workshop Workbook Series. Like the others, I have it up on the Workshop Workbook Page at the lower introductory price ($9.95) until April 20, when all the prices go up to $15.95.


I still have a couple of workbooks to go:
  • Natural Landscape Sketching Basics
  • Travel and Nature Journaling (both sketching and writing)
But I might take a little break, a couple o' weeks, mebbe, before I sail into those. I think they'll both take a little longer to do, and besides, Lorna, one of my workbook "students" (she just downloaded Nature Sketching Details yesterday) asked me to slow down a bit so that she could save up for the next one.

And it's surely going to be spring out there someday, although it snowed for awhile this afternoon and then it rained and then a huge windstorm roared through. I've just about despaired of ever getting outside to the wildflowers again (if there still ARE any!). This is Oregon, for heaven's sake! It's supposed to be warm out there in April!


Alex said...

Awesome looking tutorial! :) thanks for sharing

Renie said...

Thanks, Alex!

Anonymous said...

Hi Irene.

I would like to use one of your drawings for my personal site ( web developer portfolio ), it's a hand drawn design type and your owl ( image marked as 2 male sawwhet owls 8/15 ) is perfect for it.

Please let me know can I use the image and what are your terms for use.

I'm planning to mention your name in site credits, if you allow me to use the drawing.



Anonymous said...

you are an amazing artist. Great job and keep up the good work. from lucy aged 11

Irene said...

Hi Lucy,
Thanks for stopping by, and for your nice comment. I definitely will keep working at this, as drawing is my favorite thing to do in the world.

Unknown said...

Jamie, nice blog. I enjoy your drawings and information. I am old to nature journaling but new to drawing. Your blog is full of info. Thanks for opening your hearat and sharing your Nature with us.


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