How to Draw a Bird Skull

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The bird's skull is made up of five parts: the top of the head, or frontal area; the back of the head, or parietal area; the premaxillary and nasal areas of the top beak; and the mandible or bottom beak.

The bones of birds are very light, with the skull comprising only about 1 percent of the total body weight. This adaptation keeps birds light enough to fly.

The most common place to see an illustration of a bird's skull is in the scientific literature. Before the advent of gene sequencing, researchers often compared the skeletal anatomy of animals to determine how they were related to one another. The artist and naturalist John James Audobon kept a collection of preserved birds from which he painted highly realistic depictions.

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One of the most memorable instances of a bird's skull in cartoons occurs in the animated film How to Train Your Dragon. The young Viking maiden Astrid's garments are adorned with numerous small white bird skulls.

Birds were once deified in many cultures. They could be considered sacred, the messengers of the gods, or harbingers of evil. One myth in Appalachian North America held that if a pregnant woman looked into the eye of a dead bird, her child would not survive.

Would you like to draw a bird skull? This easy, step-by-step cartoon drawing tutorial is here to show you how. All you will need is a pen, pencil, or marker and a sheet of paper.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Turkey, Feather, and Yellow Angry Bird.

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Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing a Bird Skull

How to Draw Bird Skull: Step 1

1. Begin by drawing a long curved line. This outlines the braincase or rounded portion of the skull.

How to Draw Bird Skull: Step 2

2. Draw another long curved line extending from the front of the skull. Double it back upon itself to form the maxilla or point of the beak. Double it back again for just a short distance.

How to Draw Bird Skull: Step 3

3. Draw the lower jaw or dentary. Extend a long curved line from the base of the skull to the tip of the beak.

How to Draw Bird Skull: Step 4

4. Outline the maxilla and dentary by drawing a curved line on the lower bill and a "V" shaped line on the upper bill.

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How to Draw Bird Skull: Step 5

5. Draw a large circle in the middle of the braincase. This is the orbita or opening of the eye. Contour the orbita with curved lines, some in front to indicate a bulge in the bone and others behind it like eyelashes. This is the sclerotic eye-ring, a circle of tiny bones.

How to Draw Bird Skull: Step 6

6. Draw the nasal aperture. Enclose a rounded triangular shape near the middle of the beak. Draw a curved line along one side of it.

How to Draw Bird Skull: Step 7

7. Continue to contour the skull with curved lines. Draw an "L" shaped line and a backward "S" shaped line between the eye and the nostril.

How to Draw Bird Skull: Step 8

8. Draw curved lines below the eye to further contour the skull.

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How to Draw Bird Skull: Step 9

9. Draw curved lines on the braincase behind the eye. This contours the frontal area, parietal area, and occipital area.

How to Draw Bird Skull: Step 10

Color your bird's skull. Bones come in many colors depending on their condition. Healthy bones are white. Decay or preservation may make bones black, brown, or grey.

Check out our cartoon animal drawing guides to sketch living birds still in the feather.

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The Complete Bird Skull Drawing Tutorial in One Image

How to Draw Bird Skull

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