How to Draw a Cartoon Bird Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

How to Draw a Cartoon Bird

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There are many how-to books on drawing in publication today. The only problem with these is that, often times, the drawings won't look right if the reader isn't able to draw perfect curves and lines. This is where the cartoon bird1 comes in handy for the beginning artist, as the drawing looks even more like a cartoon character when the curves and lines are imperfect. These imperfections also give each drawing its own flair: even when a practised artist draws it, each drawing looks different - sometimes very much so - to the previous one.


  1. On a piece of paper (of your choice, although if this is your first cartoon bird drawing it is suggested that you use wide-rule paper) choose a spot to begin your drawing, making sure it is somewhere around the middle so that you have room. It is probably a good idea to use pencil until you have got the hang of the process.

  2. Draw a circle that is about the size of two lines on wide-rule paper, or about 17mm.

  3. Draw a second circle, which should be the same size as the first, to the right that overlaps the first one by about a half of a line on wide-rule paper or about 5mm.

  4. Starting at the bottom of the first circle, about 12mm left of the point that the two circles you just drew overlap, draw a line at a 45° angle, down and to the left, that is about 12mm long. It should be about one line high and one line long, or about 9mm by 9mm.

  5. From the end of the curve, draw a straight horizontal line to the right. This line should be just over 1½ lines in length, so that the line ends farther to the right than the curve began, or about 14mm.

  6. Beginning at the end of this line, make a curve that resembles a fishhook. This 'fishhook' should be at the end of the horizontal line you just drew while the end of the 'fishhook', or the 'eye', should be touching the right circle that you drew. This 'fishhook' should be about 27mm wide at its widest point and about 27mm tall: this is about 4½ lines tall by 4½ wide at its tallest.

  7. At the bottom of the 'fishhook', draw two parallel vertical lines that are about 10mm apart or one line-width apart. At the end of each of these, put an upside down 'V'.

  8. About ½mm to the right of the legs, draw a tail on the bird, in the proper place for a tail to go. The tail should look like a spoon or fork and should be about 7mm long or about two thirds of a line's width.

  9. Erase the part of the left circle that overlaps the right.

  10. In each circle, put a dot for the eye. For your first bird you should put the dots in the centre of each circle; after that it's up to you.

  11. Put a sideways 'V' in the middle of the 'fishhook', as a wing.

  12. This is the fun step. First decide what type of expression your bird should have, then draw eyebrows just above the top of the eyes. For your first bird you should consider using slight arcs, but you could use any sort of line.

Here are some ideas for different emotions:

  • Surprise – two arcs that are tilted slightly upward.

  • Intrigue – right eyebrow is normal arc, while left has hump in the middle.

  • Anger – two straight lines angled down towards the centre.

  • Worry – two straight lines angled down towards the outside.

Just remember that after you get the hang of drawing the cartoon bird you can change its size, make it hold objects like books, and create new expressions by creating your own eyebrow design!

This Entry is the subject of a video clip created by the h2g2 Aviators.

1Dubbed 'The Bird of History' because it was first discovered in an eleventh grade history class.

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