How to Draw a Vulture

How To Draw A Realistic Vulture

If you enjoy drawing wildlife and are thinking of choosing a bird as your next subject, then choosing a vulture is an outside-the-box choice that could pay big dividends.

When most people choose a bird to draw, they choose something beautiful like a hummingbird or something majestic like an eagle or a hawk. Vultures are not beautiful or majestic by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn't mean they aren't worthy of being depicted in the artwork.

Vultures are unique, and if you embrace their uniqueness of them and emphasize it, you can create a drawing of a bird that looks fierce and intimidating. Vultures are predators and scavengers and are described by some to be nature's clean-up crew. So embrace that and work to create an image of a dark and foreboding bird. If you do that, you'll create a work of art that embraces the true nature of this unique bird.

How to Draw a Vulture
How to Draw a Vulture

Basic Equipment

What essential equipment will you need for your vulture drawing? First, you have to decide what approach you'll take. If you want a detailed and technical drawing, graphite or colored pencils are good options.

Charcoal is a good option if you want a rougher vulture drawing. You should apply this same line of thought when choosing a surface to work on. Rougher surfaces work better in most cases for less detailed drawings.

You need to keep in mind that if you feel like adding color to your drawing later with paint, you'll need a surface that can handle water or moisture.

Preview How to Draw a Vulture Drawing

Start With Basic Construction Lines.

Every drawing should start with a light sketch to get the primary forms of your subject in place, and this drawing is no different.

Drawing a Vultures Head
Drawing a Vultures Head
Overlapping Curved Line

It would help if you started with the primary construction lines, creating a very rough, loose sketch of the general outline of your vulture. Keep your arms loose and use big movements when drawing the initial sketch.

This will help keep the sketch fresh and loose and make for a more lively finished drawing.

Draw The Basic Shape Of The Vulture's Body

Once the basic construction is finished, it's time to start putting some meat on the bones by creating the body's round shape.

It would help if you started sketching the general shapes of the different parts of the vulture's anatomy. Keep in mind that even though feathers will be covering a lof the bird, you need a solid sketch of the anatomy to render those feathers realistically.

This doesn't mean drawing each muscle; it means that the general forms of the muscles need to be sketched correctly. This includes getting their shapes right as well as their proportions.

Once the basic shape is drawn add short, curved lines, and draw the plumage on the vulture's chest.

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    Draw The Outline Of The Wings

    When drawing a vulture, you can take the easy way out and draw the wings folded down, but where's the fun or challenge?

    You want an image of an intimidating bird, so you'll need to draw wings that are either fully extended or at least partially extended.

    As you do with the rest of the drawing, sketch in the wings lightly and slowly add more detail to them as your drawing progresses toward its finished state.

    Draw The Vulture's Neck And Vulture's Head

    The vulture's long neck is virtually devoid of feathers and the head is the same. It's one of their defining features, so if you don't get this part right, then no matter how well the rest of the drawing turns out, it will fail.

    Draw Curved Lines

    Start by sketching the neck as a curved cylinder, then place a pyramid shape on top of it for the head. That pyramid's tip should be a long, sharp, slightly curved beak.

    Remember, this bird is a predator; make sure to give it a beak that suits its role in the natural world.

    Draw The Legs

    The legs of a vulture are not that remarkable; they are similar to most other bird legs in that they are long, thin, and have no feathers on the lower part of them.

    Please pay attention to the rough textures on the legs since they are a nice contrast to the smoother look that the features created on the rest of the body.

    Draw Sharp Claws

    Much like the vulture's beak should be sharp and pointed, the claws should reflect that this is a predator bird.

    The claws should be extended, dark, and sharp. They should be a focal point of the drawing since they are such an essential part of the bird.

    Draw Tail Feathers

    The tail feathers on all birds are very prominent because they are essential and stabilize a bird during flight.

    When drawing the tail feathers, keep in mind the angle you are viewing them from. They should have a flat overall appearance and a roughly square overall shape.

    Add Details to Vulture Drawing

    This is the part of the drawing where you can start to focus on the details and bring your vulture to life. Make sure to take the time to render in the roughness of the head and neck of your vulture.

    These are defining features that you don't see in other birds, and they deserve your attention. Don't be afraid to go very dark when you draw in the eyes.

    Most of the time, vultures' eyes are inky black, adding to their foreboding nature. Go very dark, then make sure to put in reflections and highlights. This is an ugly bird, and it's as simple as that, so add details to embrace it.

    Make it hideous and scary. If you don't, then your vulture won't end up looking like a vulture. You might also consider putting some carrion in its beak and specks of dried blood on its face and claws to emphasize its predatory nature further.

    Draw Background Elements

    Vultures are found in dry, desert regions, for the most part, so keep that in mind when you are drawing in any background elements.

    If you draw a vulture on the ground, make sure it's a dry, arid-looking scene. You might also consider adding dead carcasses that perched atop the vulture.

    Vulture's a predators, and more notably, they are scavengers, so having a carcass in the picture makes perfect sense in this case.

    Addition Questions

    How To Draw A Cute Vulture Drawing

    If you decide to go the other way and don't want to draw a dark, fierce, and intimidating vulture, cartoon vulture drawing a cute one is possible.

    If this is the path you are pursuing, you will have to create more of a caricature than a realistic drawing. Emphasize larger eyes, and lay off the details such as carrion in its beak.

    Try to create more of a cartoon vulture look and give your vulture a less severe expression. These might help you get a more cute look for your drawing, but it's still going to be a challenge since vultures are not cute animals by their very nature.


    Ian Walsh is the creator and author of and an Art teacher based in Merseyside in the United Kingdom. He holds a BA in Fine Art and a PGCE in teaching Art and Design. He has been teaching Art for over 24 Years in different parts of the UK. When not teaching Ian spending his time developing this website and creating content for the improvedrawing channel.

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