How to Draw Birds for a Tattoo

Written by philippa jones
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How to Draw Birds for a Tattoo
Create Tattoo Made From Birds. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Birds are commonly featured in tattoos -- probably because they represent freedom, motion and nature. If you want to draw birds for a tattoo, then consider drawing a flock of birds. The image has high impact owing to the distinct shape of each image and the number of birds involved. Remember that the drawing has to be transferred to skin so keep it simple, dignified and according to your personal taste. After all, tattoos are for life.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Outline the shape of the body where the tattoo is going to be drawn. When you draw the birds, they need to engage with the space so include it in the drawing to get the tattoo right.

  2. 2

    Plan where you want to position each of the birds on the body part. For example, you could have the tatoo artist create a 'V' shape pattern of birds on your back, or have a series of birds circling around your upper arm. Make a small 'X' shape where each bird is to be positioned.

  3. 3

    Sketch a sample bird next to the body. Base each bird on the same design to keep the flock of birds coherent in shape to give the tattoo consistency. Plan this shape next to the tattoo drawing.

  4. 4

    Illustrate the birds by drawing a simple outline of each one. Make the birds silhouettes but in flight. Achieve this by drawing a sausage shape for the body, then add a triangle each side for the wings. This is the framework, and looks a bit like an aeroplane.

  5. 5

    Add a zigzag pattern around each of the wings to represent the feathers of the bird. Plus, add a more defined head by narrowing the sausage to create a neck just in front of the set of wings.

  6. 6

    Tidy up the outline of the bird. The wing in the foreground should be larger than the other, owing to the perspective of the bird in flight. Use this as a basic template for the other birds. Colour it in black so it is just a simple silhouette

  7. 7

    Refer back to the sketch of the body part where the tattoo is to be placed. Sketch copies of the bird silhouette onto each of the 'X' marks, where you planned to position the bird. Vary the size of each bird, and the angle of its wings.

  8. 8

    Review the tattoo design. Check that the birds flow across the body part naturally, and are in proportion to one another as if flying across the skin.

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