Drawing Birds From Paper Models

a paper model of a nightjar to sketch from in creating a plate for Birds of Trinidad and Tobago
a paper model of a nightjar to sketch from; the field guide to Birds of Trinidad and Tobago is back on my plate. Plate, get it?

I’ve talked about model-making before- when I worked on the elasmosaur mural for the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (that’s SNOMNH for short) I made a clay and aluminum head based on old drawings of a fossil skull that helped me see what I was doing in 3D. I could put a light on it, literally. It made all the difference in the final rendering.

Nice teeth.
Nice teeth.


Now I’m back to working on Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. The owl plate is done with and I’m on to the antbirds and the goatsuckers (a.k.a. nightjars). The goatsuckers need to be shown in flight as well as on the ground, and those flight poses pose a challenge- I’m finding photos online but nothing is harder to draw than wings in perspective. So I made a model.

A couple of years back I got to be part of the annual Bird Artist’s Gathering, an informal group meeting of kindred bird art spirits, a sharing of talent and technique over a food and wine filled weekend. That Gathering was held at the beautiful rural Ohio home of Julie Zickefoose and Bill of the Birds. One of the attendees was Larry Barth, a bird sculptor extraordinaire, who held us spellbound with a quick tutorial on making bird-wing models from a single sheet of paper.

I’m sharing this with you- print out the template and cut around the edges, fold on the dotted lines, and you’ll have a reasonable wing facsimile. Do two of these babies and make a central bird silhouette to attach the wings to, and you’ve got instant Fun With Birds!

Cut 'n fold, enjoy!
Cut 'n fold, enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Drawing Birds From Paper Models

  1. Janet Wilkins says:

    It was interesting that you should mention Larry Barth. Before I got to that line in this entry, his name was the first that came to mind in regard to making paper (or metal) models. I recall reading a tutorial that he wrote for Wildfowl Carving magazine some years back.

    I agree, it is an excellent way to give one a 3D image and to see the way in which light falls on the subject.

    Thanks for the reminder!

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