In this tutorial we are going to learn how to draw a kookaburra! Before we begin, if you need information on what equipment to use for cartooning, check out my Recommended Equipment page. Also, if you are interested in more detailed step-by-step video lessons on how to draw cartoons, check out my Online Courses page.

Kookaburras are birds from Australia that are found in the bush. Aaand they are also sometimes found on cricket bats as well. (If you follow cricket, you will know – that was an awful joke).


This tutorial is broken up into three parts:

  • the Pencil Sketch – laying down the foundation of our Kookaburra using basic shapes
  • the Inking Stage – Once we have a confident foundation sketch, we will then get out our black pens and commit to some ink!
  • the Rendering Stage – Once the inking is done, we will take things a little bit further and add in some pencil shadows and highlights!

Before we begin, let’s just quickly go over the important traits of the kookaburra

Traits: Kookaburra’s are kinda stocky and solid looking, but also give off this cute furball vibe. In this drawing I made sure I focused on his thick neck, thick beak and his fancy swooshed back crest!

Drawing Materials:

You can use whatever medium you like, but the materials I used here are as follows:

  • Paper (Reeves Kraft Paper Pad)
  • Pencil (HB or #2)
  • Eraser
  • Thick Black Pen (I used a Posca PC-3M)
  • Thin Black Pen (I used a UNI Pin Fine Line 04mm)
  • White Coloured Pencil (Prismacolor)

Okay, let’s get crackin’!


How to Draw a Kookaburra Part 1: The Pencil Sketch

Step 1: First we draw a square – if you’re anything like me, squares are much easier to draw than kookaburras. If you stick around until the end of the tutorial, this square will hopefully look a lot like a kookaburra’s head!

Step 2: Time for his beak. Just draw a really long V lying on its side.

Step 3: Now draw in his eyes (shhh don’t tell anyone, but the eye on the right is just a circle. It’s a trade secret). I want to make this bird facing a three quarter view angle, so for the eye on his left, draw it popping out from the front of his head.

Step 4: Let’s leave his head for now and start blocking in his body. Draw a long, horizontal line for the base of his body and connect it to his head with some curved lines.

Step 5: As you can imagine, kookaburras like to hang out on branches. Let’s put one in now! Just add in two par super duper long parallel horizontal lines underneath his body.

Step 6: The branch will be in front of the Kookaburra, so it will be obscuring the bottom of our character. But fear not! We will still be drawing in his wings and tail and other feathery things underneath the branch. For this tail, draw a big trapezium. For his wings, draw two parallelograms.  To prevent a boring drawing, make sure that they are different sizes! These shapes will be refined more in Step 10. In this step, also make sure you refine his tummy by cutting a little curve out of the main shape.

Step 7: Now add in his little claws – just draw a bunch of ovals for now.

Step 8: Time to add in some wings. Draw an S curve going from the middle of his chest down to his claw on the right. Also puff out his wing a bit by drawing a round curve coming out of his back. Going up to his face now, don’t forget to add some dots for his pupils!

Step 9: Okay, we’ve been slowly refining the basic shapes into something that looks a bit more birdy – now let’s get serious and start putting in feathers at the top of his chest and along the top of his head.

Step 10: His tail and wings are looking waaay to geometric – let’s spice things up by drawing a whole bunch of zig zags along the bottom of those shapes!

Step 11: That’s about it for his overall form – now let’s move onto some details! To make him look more feathery, just draw in some repetitive soft zig zags along his body

Step 12: Let’s now draw in some lines around his eyes which we will shade in later. These dark areas are one of the kookaburra’s main features.


Step 13: Okay, this isn’t really a step, it is a correction. I’m not happy with his foot on the left, so I have erased it and drawn it again. I’ve also put in a little kookaburra toe which I neglected to draw earlier on! Remember that drawing isn’t a linear process – it’s okay to make mistakes and try new designs!

Step 14: For our final step in the sketching phase, let’s give this birdy a bit more personality. Simply draw in a friendly smile on his lonely little beak. Now he looks complete! Time for some inking!


How to Draw a Kookaburra Part 2: The Inking Stage

Step 15: Get out your thick pen and draw in some outlines. Remember to only outline the main shapes. We’ll save the details for the thin pen!

Step 16: With your thin pen, draw over the detailed areas. This includes the zig zaggy feather pattern on his body and the patch around his eyes

Step 17: Once you’ve added in the details, get out your thick pen again and put in some nice bold shadows! For this character I put shadows underneath the tuft of feathers on his chest and also underneath his claws and branch. It’s in this step that our character is starting to have some depth to him!

Step 18: Okay, this is just weird, random shapes, but they look super duper cool. Draw some in with your thick pen to make your character look more dynamic! Notice how I drew two leaves on the right. I did the outline with the thick pen and went over them with some sweet, thin pen details!


How to Draw a Kookaburra Part 3: The Rendering Stage

Step 19: I drew this little dude on toned paper, so I want to add some white in some areas. Here I’m just adding some white coloured pencil to his eyes. This step is always fun!

Step 20: Let’s put the white pencil down for now and grab your lead pencil again. In this step I’m just adding some extra shading on the beak, face and under the feathers. if you imagine a the sun is above the character, the light will be hitting him from above and shadow will be cast below his feathers and on the bottom ends of his claws.

Step 21: Woah woah woah, I know what you’re thinking – Step 21 looks a lot like Step 20! It’s a bit of spot the difference here. In this step I got out my thick black pen and went over his outlines again, just to thicken them up a bit more! Also, I added some solid black shadow underneath his wing (just above his claw on the right hand side)

Step 22: The branch is looking a little bit sad and lonely, so let’s drop in some nice confident shadows! I first drew a random outline near the top of the branch and then shaded in the area beneath this outline with quick and broken pen strokes (this adds to the texture of the branch). Using my white pencils, I’ve also added some more white highlights on the random floaty shapes and also drew in some little spots on his wing

Step 23: In this step I continue with the white rendering on his feathers and claws.

Step 24: We have finished our kookaburra! In this stage (mainly just for personal amusement) I draw a nice thick outline of white around the character, just to make him pop out from the page a bit more!



Okayyy we are at the end of today’s lesson! Once you’ve copied my drawing, try find some pictures of kookaburras and see if you are able to come up with some drawings of kookaburras in different poses.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, if you are ready to get started with cartooning, feel free to check out some of my online courses here:


All the best and happy drawing!

Malcolm Monteith

Melbourne, Australia



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