How to Draw a Sandhill Crane: Basic Lines

How can you capture the basic shape of a crane in a few critical simple lines?  Here we explore a wonderful trick for sketching sandhill cranes that you can use to draw moving mammals and large birds. This technique involves first drawing the line of the back and then hanging the body and head  masses from it. 

Crane Details

  • The bill is straight and emerges low on the face. If you are close enough to see it, the nostril is open. The red of the crown connects to the upper bill. The white on the face pushes into the lower bill. The head is larger than you are used to seeing on herons.
  • The neck is gently curved, not angled as in the egrets and herons. The neck expands into a slight cone where it connects to the body. 
  • The wing is a rectangle of secondary feathers on the side of the body. The primary feathers are completely hidden.
  • The front side of the wing (wrist) is usually hidden below a flap of breast feathers. The scapular feathers make a pile of large feathers on the back. Where the scapular feathers meet the wing you will see a sudden change in the size of the feathers from big (scapulars) to small (secondary covert feathers of the wing). 
  • The bustle of feathers in the back are attached to the base of the wing. You will often see two sections, a line of large overlapping feathers right behind the wing, and a looser bustle to the back. 
  • The top of the leg (tibia) is covered with feathers. Pay close attention to the distance between the body and the end of the feathered section and the distance to the heel joint. 

Click on the first image to start a step-by-step slideshow.