This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission from purchases made through them, at no additional cost to you.
Swans are very majestic creatures and are quite a challenge for artists of any level. Fortunately, our resident artist has put together a very easy-to-follow tutorial to guide you through the process of drawing a realistic swan. Grab your pencil and paper, or your drawing tablet put on some music or your favorite TV show, and let us get started!
Table of Contents
- 1 An Introduction to Swans
- 2 A Step-by-Step Swan Drawing Tutorial
- 2.1 Supplies for Drawing a Swan
- 2.2 Step 1: Constructing the Body
- 2.3 Step 2: Constructing the Wings
- 2.4 Step 3: Constructing the Neck
- 2.5 Step 4: Constructing the Head
- 2.6 Step 5: Constructing the Wing Feathers
- 2.7 Step 6: Constructing the Beak
- 2.8 Step 7: Separating the Parts of the Face
- 2.9 Step 8: Bringing Together the Upper and Lower Body
- 2.10 Step 9: Defining Our Swan
- 2.11 Step 10: Adding Fine Lines and Details
- 2.12 Step 11: Time for Texture
- 2.13 Step 12: Adding the Final Shading
- 3 Frequently Asked Questions
An Introduction to Swans
Swans are incredibly intelligent birds, with the capacity to remember their interactions with humans. Throughout the world, there are six different swan species. If you are scared of swans, then you are likely to have kiknophobia or cygnophobia. Swans tend to mate for life and only begin to breed when they are around 3 years old. According to legend, the Queen of England owns all of the swans in the country, making them even more prized.
A Step-by-Step Swan Drawing Tutorial
Now that you know a little more about the majestic swan, it is time to get down to the tutorial. Our tutorial guides you through the entire process, from drawing the construction lines to adding shadows and details.
Supplies for Drawing a Swan
We have designed this tutorial so that you can use almost any medium to follow it. You can easily use a drawing tablet to complete this realistic swan drawing, or, if you would like to follow along with us on pen and paper, you will need the following supplies:
Step 1: Constructing the Body
The best way to begin any animal drawing where proportion and shape are essential is to start by drawing a series of construction lines. These construction lines help us to form the basis of our drawing before we add details. When it comes to drawing a swan, the proportions are even more essential because the swan has a very unique and recognizable shape.
If we dive right into drawing a swan without any construction lines, we are likely to end up with some very odd proportions.
The first shape that we are going to construct is a large oval, like the one in our example. This oval will represent the body of our swan, and we will flesh it out with more details much later. Remember to leave a great deal of space above and all-around your oval.
Step 2: Constructing the Wings
In the second step, we are going to construct the outline for the swan’s wings. For this, we are going to use another oval, at a slight angle. This second oval needs to be slightly rounder than the body oval, and the angle should not be too extreme.
At the end of this stage, your construction drawing should look a little something like this.
Step 3: Constructing the Neck
Time to get down the most essential and recognizable part of the swan; the long curved neck. Because we are only constructing at this stage, we are going to use a single curved line to represent the basic shape of the neck. You want to begin this curved line on the left side of the body oval. You do not want the line to begin right on the end of the oval, because the line is only the structure for the neck and you will be fleshing it out on either side.
The curved line should look something like a stretched out 2. You can see the ideal shape in our example below.
Step 4: Constructing the Head
This step is another very simple one, and once again it involves an oval. The oval we are drawing for the head is much smaller than the other two and should sit directly on the top of the neckline. You want the head to be slightly angled downwards. Imagine that the beak on the end of the head is pointing down to the front of the body oval.
Tip: The construction drawing of the head can be at different angles depending on the desired head angle. We have placed it in the resting position angle to look more natural, but you have artist’s choice about the way you position it.
Step 5: Constructing the Wing Feathers
Step five is the first step where we are moving away from construction shapes towards more freehand drawing skills. Begin by drawing a small curved feather line that extends from the top of the wing oval, dips down, and then comes to a point before ending in the oval. You can follow this up with some freestyle feathers that go towards the back of the oval wing.
Tip: The feathers at the very back are the most pointy. These are referred to as flight wings and help the swan with airflow. As a result, you need to make sure that you draw these feathers very sharp and pointy.
Step 6: Constructing the Beak
This is another very easy step. From the center of the head oval, you want to draw a rounded ‘V’ shape.
Step 7: Separating the Parts of the Face
In this step use curves and arch lines to create the face of the swan. Swans have very characteristic patterns on the front of their faces. At a later stage in the tutorial, we will color in this pattern which will separate the swan’s face from the rest of its head. You need to also draw a little curved pattern within the beak, which will represent the bulge covering the beak of the swan.
Step 8: Bringing Together the Upper and Lower Body
This step is the beginning of the next part of the tutorial where we begin to use the construction lines to draw the swan. Use a darker stroke to draw over the bottom of the body oval. As the body oval joins the wing oval, you want to join them together. Use the same darker strokes to join the feathers together using curved lines. Draw another curved line from the top of the wing oval downwards onto the top of the main body oval.
At this stage, your drawing should look something like this. Your drawing may look slightly different, but this is because every artist has their own unique style.
Step 9: Defining Our Swan
Step 9 is another very simple step, and all you need to do is follow your construction lines to outline the rest of your swan’s body. You can begin with the head, using the same darker line to take the line from the head oval down on each side of the neck construction line. At this point, you should have a fully outlined swan!
You are now ready to erase any construction lines that are still visible.
Step 10: Adding Fine Lines and Details
At this stage of the tutorial, your own personal preferences start to come into play. Begin with the beak, draw a crossing line from the beginning of the beak to create a lower lip for the mouth. You can now add a small nostril on the beak and some texture streaks at the bottom of the beak.
Color in the face detail in black, leaving a small white oval shape acting as the eye. You can now begin adding some texture strokes along the face contouring lines, this will help for the later stage where we shade it. On the wing, begin by using the main three curves done in the previous step to fill in the full curve of the wing using curved lines.
Tip: When drawing the feathers, remember that they are not parallel. Draw one line starting with the big feathers, then the second line with smaller feathers all in an upward direction. All feathers need to be facing the same direction when they are on a wing.
Continue drawing the large wing parts with a large curve. Inside this curve, simply add more small feathers. You can create this effect best by using short overlapping curved lines. It is also important to add some line strokes between feathers to give a more realistic look of puffy wings.
Step 11: Time for Texture
Adding texture is essential to give the impression of a realistic swan. It is not difficult to add texture, and you have the freedom to add as much or as little as you desire. We find that the best way to add texture is with very small little strokes, which you can add all the way along the neck following the curvature.
Add these streaks and strokes on the feathers as well for a blended look, making sure that they are all in the same direction. For more feather details, draw some curved lines at the bottom half of the Swan’s body curved upwards.
Step 12: Adding the Final Shading
In this step add a light shade of grey or black along the beak, face, neck, the lower part of the body. You can use a soft brush or cotton swab to smear the shading along the different feathers to show depth and dimension.
Tip: when shading the feathers do them individually and not across all the feathers at once, to make it look like each one has its own shading and not a single shade.
Remember that to make the lower feathers appear further back you should make the shading slightly darker in these areas. After you have finished this step, you will have your finished swan! We have added a few curved lines around our swan to give the impression that it is sitting on water.
Hopefully you have enjoyed our realistic swan drawing tutorial and you are happy with your final drawing! Now that you have followed the process, you can alter the position of the swan by adjusting the construction lines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Difficult to Draw a Swan?
Many people think that swans are tricky birds to draw, but they are actually very easy. Once you have the construction lines down, it is simple to fill out the details and add texture.
Can a Beginner Follow This Tutorial?
Absolutely yes! This tutorial was designed for beginners and professional artists alike. We take you through the most basic elements of using construction lines and where to add shading, so you can easily draw a realistic swan even as a beginner.