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Post Reply drawing tutorials wings
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Posted 7/24/08
Designing Fantasy Wings
step 1
Your fantasy character doesn't need to have plain old bird wings. It can be anything! While feather, fairy and bat wings are the most common, in this tutorial I'll touch on how to make them uniquely yours, and also how to decorate them.

First, you have to determine the basic shape of the wing. This is the skeleton, and generally they are curved with about 2 or 3 turning points. Keep it curved for gentler wings, or sharp for more sinister evil wings (bat wings etc), and don't go more than 3 turning points (whoever heard of zigzag wings?). Usually the pair of wings are symmetrical so that they are aerodynamic, but if you are creative, perhaps your fantasy character has different shaped wings.
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step 2
Wings come in pairs, or more. Maybe your character has two pairs, or even three or four. However, try not to over clutter the wings. You can have great big wings if there are one or two pairs, but try to vary the sizes if there are more then 3 pairs.
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Posted 7/24/08 , edited 7/24/08
step 3

Feathered wings are very popular, but can be a bit complicated to draw. However, it shouldn't be a problem as all you need to do it to look up pics of birds for reference. Just keep in mind that the feathers on the wing are of different size, and should have their own groups. This keeps the wings interesting and realistic. The smaller feathers are generally at the inside of the wing, and the larger feathers at the outside. You can have fun designing different feathers too.

Don't worry if the wings don't look anything like normal birds' wings. These are fantasy wings! The birds' wings are just for reference. Also, be careful not to overdo the wings! If you add too many feathers, the wings may look clumpy and boring. Variety in size and shape is the way to go!
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step 4
Fairy wings could generally be referenced using butterfly wings, but since fairies are magical, I'm sure their wings are much more beautiful! The wings are thin and have veins running through it, and can be all types of colors and patterns. Like feathered wings, it is easier to draw wings by grouping them and then developing the shapes.

The wings could be more than one pair, and the top pair is usually the biggest.

The wings could be rounded, but usually they are depicted as sharp and tattered, sometimes resembling dead leaves. It is all up to you!
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step 5
Bat or leathery wings are usually meant for more sinister characters, and they tend to be leathery. Usually just one pair, these can be referenced from bats or dragons. Sometimes they have claws at the edges or the wings to add a more evil mood. The structure of the bones is more important here as it is the main shape of the wings.
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step 6
So is that all there is to it? Well think about it.. if you were a noble angel, or a fairy princess, or a proud succubi, wouldn't you be proud of your wings? I know I would. And I would certainly take care of them and decorate them! But of course, this depends on the character. You wouldn't see an angel draping itself with dead lizards as ornaments. So it should be appropriate to your character. A precious item from his/her past maybe, or something to describe the personality of the character. Here are some examples I made but of course.. it's not limited to these!

My angel wings would drape itself in glorious rich velvet and golden tassels.. it would look magnificent!

The fairies would use flowers and twigs and magical lights to decorate their wings.. the twisting twigs would compliment the veins of the wings too.

My evil wings are so evil that it has an evil shadow aura of its own! Look at that.. aww.. so deliciously evil.
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step 7
But why stop there? Who says wings have to be just feathers, membranes and leather? Why not other materials? Here are three examples I made.. my fairies have wings made of rose petals, velvet drapes and even wings made of pure light! So let your imagination go wild, and design your heart out!

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Posted 7/24/08
How to Draw Wings
step 1
Before you start drawing a wing, it might be useful to know some things about its structure. On the left side you can see bone structure with the names of the bones. This one would be a really large wing, but you can change the length of the humerus (as well as the radius and ulna) to make the wing shorter and smaller. One of the most important things are feathers - keep in mind, that there are two main types - both drawn above. The longer feathers (notice where the quill is located) created the outer portion of the wing, and the smaller, regular feathers overlay the rest.

« I always begin drawing the inner portion of the wing, and then small (lets say ;)) regular feathers. Bird wings have several feather "layers" - the closer to the bones, the smaller they are.
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step 2
Draw the next feather "layer" - the feathers should be longer and longer. Remember about the quill, especially when you draw the longest feathers.
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step 3
Now you can start adding details. Feathers aren't plain - draw some barbs. They will make the wing look much more realistic. (Don't forget about the placement of the quill =) ).
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step 4
Of course you can draw more feathers, not only these three basic "layers" I usually tend to draw many tiny feathers in the inner portion, some of them without barbs. You can also change length of the feathers, it depends on the shape of the wing you would like to achieve.
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And finally, here are some rough sketches of wings with different feathers and shapes.
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How to Draw Wings Nixxa Style
First, before we get into drawing wings, you may want to consider the purpose of the wings you would like to draw and whom they are going to go on. For example, at left we have a pretty generic bird. As it is with birds, their forelimbs are their wings, and their metacarpals (finger bones) only serve to aid in the control of their wings and flight feathers while flying. Humans, on the other hand, have forelimbs that are not used for flying, and are thus useless when it comes to trying to fly. In actuality, a human would need a wingspan of about 2.5 times their actual arm lengths to even think about being able to fly (multiply one arm length by 2.5, that should give you the span for one wing). Why? Because our bones are so dense. Birds have very hollow bones, filled mostly with spongy bone, and less dense connective bone tissue. Humans have much more dense connective bone tissue in their bones, making them quite a bit heavier than a bird would be if you look at the ratio of size to weight. Thus, if you are thinking of putting wings on a humanoid character of yours, you may want to think about the size of the wings you are giving them in relation to their purpose.

A human would need quite large wings to be able to realistically achieve flight --- but of course, a character of yours most likely wouldn't have wings of that magnitude, would they? That would be difficult to fit on a page! However, now that we know a little bit more about wings in terms of whom they are going to appear on, we can start to talk about vestigial wings...
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Vestigial wings are wings that are actually "useless", by definition. However, I categorize wings that are unrealistic for flight as vestigial wings, because they wouldn't have a purpose, other than being ornamental, in actuality. Even if the wings that you are intending to put onto your character are going to give them the ability to fly, it is still important to know that they are within the range of vestigial wings. This range goes from very small and completely ornamental wings, to semi-large, partially-ornamental wings. This range can be seen a left.

Very small wings: the pink and yellow wings on the top are two variations of small vestigial wings. They are very obviously ornamental and should probably not be portrayed on a flying human character... unless of course, your character is a child. If yours is, then apply a body size ratio to the wing size and go from there. The pink wing at left would have a very awkward bone structure, because it doesn't have the same sort of "elbow" that the yellow and blue wings do, making it the least realistic of the three. Many characters in anime and manga have wings in this form, usually appearing on children, chibi's, cutesy/bouncy characters, and short angelic characters. Of course though, that is just from what I have seen and inferred. The yellow wing is basically a shrunken version of the larger blue wing, having the same bone structure. They are usually found on children and short angelic characters, but less so on chibi's and cutesy characters, as wings of this structure are more complex than is necessarily needed on chibi's, etc.

Semi-large wings: the blue wing at left is a larger, more realistically sized wing and would be suitable (and probably more believable) for your character to fly with. Even though these wings are still vestigial in nature, they give the appearance of being flight-worthy and are the correct shape in terms of bone structure. There are, however, wings of this size that are more like the pink wing --- though I have never actually seen an anime or manga where a character has tried to fly with wings like that. Variations of wings at this size are numerous, so I advise that you play around with feather types, lengths, and colors for these wings.


Eep, I'm sorry for spewing so much information out at you. But if you have read it all, then you are definitely ready to start drawing wings!
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