How to Draw Overlapping Birds


Here is a lesson that I taught to my second graders a few years ago. It was a great “intro-to-drawing” lesson but after teaching the lesson, I felt it would be more age appropriate for third grade and up. The skills are slightly complex and while most kids did very well, I recall a few frustrated souls and that’s something I hope to avoid in the art room.

1 piece of 12″ x 18″ white drawing paper
Pencil and eraser
Black fine tip marker
Colored pencils, oil pastels, markers or crayons (whatever your preference!)

Drawing the First Bird
The idea here is to draw 3 overlapping birds of varying sizes and even shapes. I show the kids how to draw a simple bird and then lead them through a directed line drawing . I ask them to place their first bird near the bottom of the page. For young kids, this is hard.

Demonstrate visually by placing an actual size paper on the white board and point to where the beak starts. A surprising number of kids will draw the beak towards the middle of the page (especially if they are left handed). This leads to some problems (no room for the body) so take your time at the beginning. You can speed up later.
Drawing the Second Bird
Draw another bird, either in the same direction or facing the opposite way, just above the first bird. Okay, now here is the trick: tell the kids to “jump” over any lines they come in contact with. If they are drawing the belly of the second bird and they are about to “run” into the head of the first bird, lift up the pencil to “jump” over the line and then begin drawing again. Of course, if this is challenging, here’s another plan of action….

Alternative (better for younger kids)
Just above the first bird, have the kids draw a second bird, but this time, completely ignore the first bird and overlap. If lines get in the way…forget ’em! Just go straight through them.

How to draw overlapping birds

You can see from the illustration above, that the birds all intersect one another. You can also see how confusing this can be!
How to draw overlapping birds outlined
Next, take a black marker and trace the first bird completely: beak, head, body and tail. Then, and this can be tricky so make sure the kids watch first…trace over the second bird’s pencil lines but make sure to “jump” over any lines that intersect the first bird. The second bird is now behind the first bird.

Do this step again for the third bird.
Finally, ERASE all pencil lines.

Step Three: Coloring
Once all the birds are outlined, the kids will have three birds of varying distances. Now it’s time to have some fun. If they want, add polka dots, stripes or feathers. Use any color they wish!

Bird Art Lesson Gallery
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  • nelliemaeii

    I love this! Thanks for the great ideas!!

  • Paula

    This is the best site for ideas! You have been so helpful. The art projects are wonderful. Love it.

  • r.pepe

    just what i was looking for, I’m teaching art for 24 years and I was surfing around and there was child creatied work as well., Thanks

  • Hayden

    This is poo

  • anthany

    thank you

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