Art History Lab

Drawing Owls: A Step-by-Step Guide to Capturing Their Wisdom and Mystery

Owls are known for their mysterious and captivating appearance. They have a rich history, with different meanings in different cultures and have been a subject of many artistic works.

Owls can be found all over the world, in different sizes, with varying features and coloration. However, they all have one thing in common: their remarkable hunting skills.

In this article, we will explore the diversity of owls, their symbolism in mythology and art, and a step-by-step guide on how to draw an owl.

to Owls and Their Symbolism

Diversity of Owls

Owls are a diverse group of birds that can be found in almost every part of the world, from tiny elf owls to the giant eagle owl. There are about 200 different species of owls in the world, and they come in various colors, structures, and sizes.

Some owls, like the snow owl, have white feathers that help them blend in with their surroundings. Other owls, like the great gray owl, have ear tufts on their head, which helps them detect prey.

Owls in Mythology and Art

Owls have played a significant role in mythology and artwork. They have been associated with wisdom, mysticism, death, and night.

The Greeks believed that owls were a symbol of wisdom and associated them with the goddess Athena. The Egyptians also revered owls, and they were often depicted in hieroglyphs.

Many artists have used owls as the subject for their work. The famous painter, Vincent van Gogh, created many works featuring owls.

The barn owl is a favorite subject for many artists because of their distinctive face and feathery appearance. Owls are also featured in childrens books, with popular characters such as Harry Potters Hedwig and Poppy the owl from the book series, The Adventures of Poppy the Owl.

Step-by-Step Guide for Drawing an Owl

Constructing the Owl’s Body

When drawing an owl, its essential to start with the basic structure. The body of an owl can be easily constructed with a simple oval shape.

Draw the oval shape in the center of the paper, then add two construction lines to indicate the height and width of the owl’s body. This process will help keep the proportions of the owl’s body consistent.

Constructing the Owl’s Features (Head, Wing, Legs, Talons)

Once the body is created, it’s time to work on the owl’s features. The head of an owl can be made with a circle, and the wings and legs with oval shapes.

Follow the construction lines to keep the features in proportion with the body. Symmetry is important when drawing owls, so make sure to mirror each feature on both sides.

The talons of an owl are sharp and powerful, and it’s essential to capture their menacing nature when drawing them. Draw the talons with sharp tips, and use construction lines to make sure they are in proportion with the legs.

Adding Detail and Outlining the Owl

After the features are created, it’s time to add the details that make an owl distinctive. Owls have a feathery look, and it’s important to capture that in the drawing.

Use curved lines to create the impression of feathers on the wings and legs. The wings of an owl are broad, so be sure to capture their shape when adding feathering details.

An outline will help give the owl definition and bring together all of the features that have been drawn. Use a fine-tip pen or pencil to outline the entire owl, including the talons.

Clean up any extra lines created during the construction process. Shading, Blending, and Adding Highlights

The final step is to add shading, blending, and highlights to the drawing.

Start with shading the areas that are darkest, like the eyes and body. Use a combination of light and dark shading to create the impression of depth.

Blending is an important technique to create a smooth transition between shadow and light areas. Use an earbud or a blending tool to blend the shading together, creating a seamless transition.

Highlights can be added to the eyes and the feathers of the owl to give it life. Use a white pencil or paint to create the highlights, making sure to keep them subtle.

Too much highlight can overload the drawing and give it an unrealistic appearance.


Owls have played an important role in culture and art, not just because of their distinctive appearance but also because of their association with mystery and wisdom. By following the step-by-step guide provided, anyone can create a depiction of an owl.

By combining the basic principles of construction, shading, and blending, the owl can become a dynamic and memorable drawing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Drawing an owl might seem like a daunting task, but with a step-by-step tutorial, it’s easier than you think. Here are some frequently asked questions that may help clear up any confusion.

Clarifying the Tutorial’s Purpose

What is the purpose of this tutorial? The purpose of this tutorial is to help beginners learn how to draw an owl realistically.

The tutorial provides a step-by-step guide that shows how to construct the owl’s body, add the features, and add shading and highlights to create a 3D effect.

Importance of Construction Lines

Why are construction lines necessary, and how do they help in drawing an owl? Construction lines provide a skeletal structure to the drawing, making it easier to divide the body into manageable sections.

These lines ensure the correct proportions when adding details and make it easier to create a realistic final product. They also offer the flexibility to adjust the proportions and composition of the drawing at any point in the process.

Time Needed for Drawing an Owl

How long will it take to draw an owl using this tutorial? The tutorial is designed to be a quick tutorial, and it will take a maximum of half an hour to finish drawing an owl.

However, the time it takes to finish the drawing will depend on the artist’s skill level and choice of medium.

Tools Required for Drawing an Owl

What tools are required to draw an owl? The tools required for drawing an owl include pencils of different grades (2B, 4B, 6B, etc.), pens (fine-tip and medium-tip), an eraser, earbuds (for blending and smudging), and a tablet (if using digital tools).

The choice of medium is dependent on the artist’s preference, as both traditional and digital methods can be used.


Learning to draw an owl can be a fun and engaging activity for artists of any level. By applying the techniques demonstrated in the tutorial, anyone can create an impressive drawing that captures the owl’s distinctive appearance and characteristics.

The tutorial provides a step-by-step guide, making it easier for beginners to learn the fundamentals of drawing owls realistically. In summary, this article provided an introduction to owls and their symbolic significance in mythology and art, a step-by-step guide for drawing an owl, and frequently asked questions that addressed common concerns.

Through the diverse array of owl species and their representation in various forms of art, owls have historically been associated with wisdom and mysticism. By using construction lines, shading, and blending techniques, anyone can create a realistic drawing of an owl that captures its feathery appearance and menacing talons.

With patience and practice, drawing an owl can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

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