The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds By John Muir Laws | 117 Pages | 700+ Colour illustrations | Heyday Books | Paperback | Sep 2012 | ISBN: 9781597141956

The Publisher’s View: John Muir Laws’s guide to drawing birds is itself winged, soaring between a devotion not only to art but also to the lives, forms, and postures of the birds themselves. Here, artistic technique and the exquisite details of natural history intertwine, and drawing becomes the vehicle for seeing.

As Laws writes, “To draw feathers, you must understand how feathers grow, overlap, and insert into the body. To create the body, you must have an understanding of the bird’s skeletal structure. To pose this skeleton, you must be able to perceive the energy, intention, and life of the bird.”

This how-to guide will perfect the technique of serious arists but also, perhaps more importantly, it will provide guidance for those who insist they can’t draw. Leading the mind and hand through a series of detailed exercises, Laws delivers what he promises: that “drawing birds opens you to the beauty of the world.”The Author: John Muir Laws is a naturalist, educator, and artist, with degrees in conservation and resource studies from the University of California, Berkeley; in wildlife biology from the University of Montana, Missoula; and in scientific illustration from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is a research associate with the California Academy of Sciences. Visit his website:

Fatbirder View: I am going to have to take issue with the artist author. Whereas I am sure everyone can improve their efforts – not everyone can draw birds well enough for the viewer to be able to ‘see what it is yet?’ to paraphrase Rolf Harris.

I for one would love to be better than I am, I have a modicum of artistic ability, but find birds just about the hardest thing to draw there is. This book does encourage you to get under the skin (almost literally) of the subject and can help. I am sure it will help a good artist make better bird pictures too.

Cheekily, as I looked through it did strike me that there are a few professional illustrators of fieldguides out there who would do well to take a look at this book! I think I am a bit long in the tooth to be anything other than a lost cause, but I wish this had been in my Christmas stocking half a century ago!


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