How to Draw a Pelican

Easy, step by step Pelican drawing tutorial
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"A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belly can.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week."
- Poem by Dixon Merritt. 1910

Pelicans are seafaring birds famous for their extendable throat pouch that they use as a fishing net. They are large birds; many have wingspans of more than 10 ft or 3 meters. The name "pelican" comes from an ancient Greek word meaning "ax."

Did you know? Contrary to popular belief, pelicans do not store food in their pouches. They readily consume their catches.

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Pelicans entered into human artwork long ago. In ancient Egypt, carvings of pelicans can be seen on the walls of tombs, inside pyramids. The bird was seen as a goddess related to passage from death to the afterlife. In Medieval Europe, "the pelican was thought to be particularly attentive to her young, to the point of providing her own blood by wounding her own breast when no other food was available." This was referred to as "vulning." The bird became connected with the death of Christ in Christian iconography. The pelican was also used in Medieval heraldry.

Pelicans occasionally enter the realm of popular culture as mascots or characters, even being pictured on modern coins or flags. One memorable example is Nigel the pelican in Disney's Finding Nemo.

Would you like to draw a cartoon pelican? This easy, step-by-step cartoon animal drawing tutorial is here to show you how. All you will need is a pencil, an eraser, and a sheet of paper. You may also wish to color your finished drawing.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Flamingo, Seagull, and Swan.

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Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing a Pelican

Pelican drawing - step 1
How to Draw Pelican: Step 1

1. Begin by sketching the cartoon pelican's head and neck. Use long curved lines and short "U" shaped lines that give the head a feathery appearance.

Pelican drawing - step 2
How to Draw Pelican: Step 2

2. Draw the pelican's eyes. Use curved lines to craft the irregular round outlines. Draw a curved line across the top to indicate the eyelid. Enclose a circle within a circle, then shade them to indicate the pupil. Draw a curved line over each eye to form the eyebrow.

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Pelican drawing - step 3
How to Draw Pelican: Step 3

3. Begin sketching the pelican's large beak. Draw a wavy line across the face. From it, extend two long curved lines and allow them to meet at a point. Draw a short curved line at the corner of the mouth.

Pelican drawing - step 4
How to Draw Pelican: Step 4

4. Use overlapping curved lines to draw the drooping lower portion of the beak. Then, use a curved line for the front of the neck, and a series of curved lines to indicate the feathers of the cheek.

Pelican drawing - step 5
How to Draw Pelican: Step 5

5. Draw the wing. Use a long curved line for the top of the wing, and overlapping curved lines for the flight feathers along the bottom.

Pelican drawing - step 6
How to Draw Pelican: Step 6

6. Use a long curved line to draw the bird's belly. Then, use "U" shaped lines to outline the tail.

Pelican drawing - step 7
How to Draw Pelican: Step 7

7. Draw the leg, erasing as necessary. Use a series of curved lines to trace the feathered upper leg. Then, extend a pair of curved lines to form the leg and foot. Draw pairs of curved lines in a "W" shape, and allow them to meet at gentle points. Draw curved lines between the toes to create the webbed foot.

Pelican drawing - step 8
How to Draw Pelican: Step 8

8. Draw the remaining leg. Use curved lines for the upper leg, and overlapping curved lines to create the foot in profile.

Pelican drawing - step 9
How to Draw Pelican: Step 9

9. Detail the wing with "U" shaped lines.

Complete Pelican drawing
How to Draw Pelican: Step 10

Color your cartoon pelican. Many pelicans are white. Others have combinations of white, brown, grey, and black feathers.

What's for dinner? Fish are on the menu for this pelican. Learn how to draw them today.

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The Complete Pelican Drawing Tutorial in One Image

How to draw: Pelican - all drawing steps
How to Draw Pelican

Printable Drawing Tutorial

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