Inside: How to draw a Cardinal with cute feathers, feet & a tail.

Have you ever heard of Cardinal? They are beautiful red birds that seem to only come out in winter…at least that’s when people take pictures of them. Cardinals are almost completely red, so they are vibrant against the snowy backgrounds. 

Sidetrack: Many people believe that a Cardinal is representative that a loved one that has passed is visiting them. That’s a very interesting belief.

I have never seen one in real life, maybe there is a sacred feeling that comes along with a Cardinal sighting. 

Their basic shapes as with anything is made of some simple shapes, we can do this!

How to draw a cardinal bird step by step

Bird drawing supplies

Supplies you’ll need to draw this cardinal and any other red bird you might choose to try. 

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Colored Pencils, crayons, markers (reds + black)

Artist tip: As with any drawing it’s important to recognize how much space you are working with.

To do this, point to the middle of your paper with your finger or pencil.

This will tell your eyes how much space you have to draw in. It does not have to be exact as long as you have a place to start at. That’s the goal. 

Supplies for drawing birds

How to draw a cardinal body with circles

Let’s get started

1. Draw a medium sized circle, this is the body.

Remember circles can be tricky, draw a few lightly and pick your favorite lines.

Draw a circle

2. Next, on top of the first circle, draw a smaller circle. This is the head. 

Basic body of a bird

3. Off the top of the top circle, draw a curved line up and curve inward back to the circle, this will look like a little mohawk; it’s the Cardinals crown.

Cardinal sketch

How to draw a beak & bird face

4. On the left side, just under the crown, add a small triangle shape coming off the side of the head circle.

Add a line through the middle.

This is the beak!

cute bird outline

5. Next, add the neck lines. These will be short diagonal lines coming from the bottom of the head shape connecting to the body.

6. Now, let’s give them an EYE! Add an oval, just past the beak in the head shape.

Basic bird doodle

7. Cardinals have a little black area on their faces, it looks like a costume mask!

Draw a line coming from above the beak, around the eye, down to where the “chin” area would be if this was a person’s face.

How to draw a branch for our red bird

8. Draw a long gently curved line underneath the whole bird. This will be the branch they are resting on. It can come from the side. 

How to draw a bird face

9. Add a line underneath the first stick line to make it thicker.

Taper it to the end, so it looks like a long triangle.

Cardinal bird drawing instructions

How to draw bird feet & a tail

10. Next, they need feet!

Let’s add 3 small crescent shapes over the stick, just beneath the bird’s body.

Connect them by a small line or rectangle.

How to draw bird feet

11. Tail feathers are important as well.

To draw them add a long curved rectangle coming off of the bird’s body, way down past the stick.

Bird tail outline

12. Almost done! Let’s go over the outside pencil lines with a zig-zag line.

This will add texture and help it to look more “feathery”.

Erase the bottom of the head circle, and add a few texture lines from the middle of the body shape, outwards.

This will look like their wings are resting.

How to draw bird feathers

How to color a cardinal

The Best Part: COLOR!

Use several shades of red, if you have them, to give it depth and highlights.

Browns and black will add shadow.

Don’t forget the black “mask” on their face! This is how everyone will know your bird sketching is indeed a cardinal. 

How to color a cardinal

You’ve done it and drawn a Cardinal. Whether this is a bird you get the pleasure of seeing outside or you want to support your favorite team, hoping you will put this drawing to good use!

Let’s see what else we can draw together next time, perhaps we could try my favorite bird a flamingo! Or learning how to draw a frog together would also be fun…

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