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Doodle Tip: Draw from Real Life

We all use reference when we draw; sometimes it’s from an image from a book or a photo we took. But the best reference  — whenever possible — is to draw from real life.

Doodle Tip: Draw from Real Life



We were especially lucky to live in Brisbane, Australia, where the climate was mostly warm year-round — a great place for doodling outdoors. It’s also fantastic for bird watching. Not only do you see (several kinds of ) pigeons roaming the neighborhood, but there are cockatoos, rainbow lorikeets, and kookaburras. Birds are terrific drawing subjects; we enjoyed taking the ferry to Ascot, a suburb near the Brisbane River, or venturing to the Wynnum waterfront to draw pelicans and seagulls.


Pelicans are much larger than you’d expect, and their distinctive long beaks make them easy to draw, because it’s a very recognizable feature.

  1. Start with oval shapes for the head and body.
  2. Then draw the long, pointy beak, skinny legs, and feathered wings.

See more drawing tips for drawing birds here.


Little Dude had his own interpretation of the pelicans. He drew their soft throat pouches, webbed feet and textured wings.

kcd_draw_pelican3 kcd_draw_pelican2


Seagulls are easy to spot anytime you’re near the sea. You have to be quick to capture them, but if you’re patient, you might catch one standing around. Here’s a video of me drawing the seagulls:

One floating in the bay by Little Dude:


trythisGo outside in your backyard, or to the nearby park and see if there are pigeons, crows, or squirrels to draw. Often there may be people walking their dogs, and they make terrific models too. Hope this inspires you to draw from your life too!

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