How to Draw a Toucan
In this tutorial, we are going to learn to draw two characters: how to draw a toucan on a tree branch (a Toco Toucan), and how to draw a toucan flying (a Keel Billed Toucan)
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.
How to Draw a Toucan (Toco)
How do you draw a toucan? You will need to start with basic shapes. In this tutorial, our toucan has a foundation of the following things:
- four trapeziums (one for its body, one for its tail and two for its feet)
- a circle (for its eye)
- a beak.
If you can draw these – then you can draw a toucan! These birds are flippin’ cool. They are found in Central America, South America and Froot Loops boxes. Looool!!!
Each tutorial is broken up into three parts:
- the Pencil Sketch – laying down the foundation of our toucan using basic shapes
- the Inking Stage – using the foundation as our guide, we should now able to confidently draw in the toucan’s main features with a black pen
- the Coloring Stage – time to bring our toucan to life with some color!
Let’s just quickly go over the important traits of our toucan design.
The toucan we will be drawing in this lesson will be 60% body and 40% beak!
We will be basing our design on the Toco Toucan – the largest and best known of the toucan species.
Plumage: Toco Toucans have black plumage with a white throat and chest. However I don’t want to use pure black as it will overpower the image, so instead we will be coloring him in with a dark blue.
Beak: Toucan beaks are awesome! They are long and hooked with a big black spot at the end of them. Our character’s beak will consist of orange and yellow, with a red stripe going around it.
Feet: Not sure if you’ve ever noticed a toucan’s feet – but they are blue. That is fantastic.
The toucan in this tutorial was created in Adobe Photoshop, but you can use pens, pencils, paint – whatever you fancy. If you’re using pencils, make sure you go over your character with two or three layers, as this will make the colors richer and more vivid.
The materials I use when drawing cartoons are as follows:
- Paper (Sketchbook or printer paper)
- Pencil (HB or #2)
- Thick Black Pen (I used a Posca PC-3M)
- Thin Black Pen (I used a UNI Pin Fine Line 04mm)
- Colored Pencils. You can use simple Crayola pencils. Or you can go crazy and splash out on some Faber Castell Albrecht Duhrer Watercolor pencils or Prismacolors.
So those are what I recommend, but ultimately just feel free to use any brand or medium that you may have on hand.
How to Draw a Toucan Part 1: the Pencil Sketch
Step 1: Draw two tall trapeziums – a large one on top (for his body) and a small one underneath (for his tail). The right sides of the trapeziums should line up with eachother. These shapes will be refined later on to look like a body and a tail.
Step 2: Draw a circle surrounding the top right corner of the top trapezium – this will be our toucan’s eye
Step 3: Begin your pencil at the top right hand corner. Draw a long curve going upwards to the left and then straight down – this will be the top of our toucan’s beak
Step 4: To complete the beak, draw a straight line connecting with the bottom of the circle
Step 5: For his feet, place two upside-down trapeziums at the bottom of his body
Step 6: Finally draw in some horizontal lines coming out of his feet – this is going to be his branch!
Okay we now have a nice, messy pile of shapes, but ya know what? It kinda looks like a toucan! We are now ready to move onto the inking.
How to Draw a Toucan Easy Part 2: the Inking Stage
Time for some inking! Just a few tips before we begin:
- We are not tracing – we are refining our design. The blue lines are merely our foundation for a much more detailed and well-designed character – You’ll see!
- Remember to use line variation (different line thickness) – for example, if you look at our final drawing, the toucan’s outlines are thicker than his feathers and striations on his feet.
- Try and draw quick confident lines – it will add a lot of life into your drawings! If your line work needs improvement, make sure you practice drawing random lines on a scrap piece of paper – you’ll be amazed at how much it helps!
Step 7: The toucan’s feet are the closest things to the viewer – given that they superimpose the branch, his tail and his body, we will need to ink in his feet before we do anything else!
Step 8: Now draw in the branch – things look pretty abstract at this point, but they will start looking like feet clutching onto a branch in step 14!
Step 9: Draw in the eyeball, with a little dot inside for his pupil
Step 10: Ink in the toucan’s straight back. Up until now, the inking has essentially been tracing over the blue lines, but now, we start to go a little bit off road! For his front, instead of drawing a straight line, draw a curvy line – make the line curve in for his neck and curve out for his tummy!
Step 11: Let’s now go down south and put in his tail – follow the straight lines going down to the bottom of the trapezium. Instead of tracing in the trapezium’s base, connect the two sides with the crazy zig zags.
Step 12: Okay, time to spruce up his beak! Draw an S going from the top of this beak to the bottom of his neck
Step 13: This part is a bit tricky – trace the top of his beak with your black pen, but for the bottom, draw in a curved line connecting back to his neck. This will give him a nice hooked toucan beak!
Step 14: We’ve got his overall shape sorted, now add in some details – his toes, wing, chest and his other eye poking out from behind his head. Ooh and most importantly, give him a smile!
Step 15: In this step, get out your thin pen and put in some fine details – give him some nice wavy curves for his plumage and ink in some striations on his toes
Step 16: This step is quite fun – put in some nice dark areas at the tip of his beak, on the branch in the areas surrounding his feet. If you’re a bit nervous, feel free to draw the outline of the shadow first with your thin pen and then fill in the areas with your thick pen. You should now notice your toucan as a lot more depth now – the dark areas around his feet really make them pop out more!
How to Draw a Toucan Step by Step Part 3: the Coloring Stage
Step 17: Here we are putting in the first layer of color. I used dark blue for his plumage, light blue for his feet and red, orange and yellow for his beak. Oh – and brown for his little twig!
His chest has a light cream color – if you don’t have this particular hue in your arsenal, feel free to just leave it white.
Step 18: We are at the final step! There’s not much difference here compared to the previous step. In this step I added some subtle shading in certain areas, as well as putting in a green background. It just makes the character look a little cooler! This character was created digitally using Adobe Photoshop. If you want to achieve this shading effect, simply put a new layer over the image and draw in your shading areas with a dark purple. Then lower the opacity of the shadow layer until you’ve got the desired effect. When I’m shading using pencils, I simply get out a purple pencil and lightly shade in the areas that I want in shadow.
How to Draw a Keel Billed Toucan Flying
Traits: Apart from its colors, the Keel Billed toucan has a similar appearance to the Toco toucan.
Plumage: Keel Billed toucans have black plumage with a yellow throat and chest. Like our previous toucan, I will be coloring him in with a dark blue instead of black.
Beak: The Keel Billed toucan’s beak is super colorful. It has bright green, purple, orange and light will consist of orange and yellow, with a red stripe going around it.
Feet: Like the Toco toucan, the Keel Billed toucan also has blue feet
Okay, let’s now move on to the tutorial!
How to Draw a Toucan Flying: The Pencil Stage
Step 1: Start by drawing the toucan’s head – just a simple little circle
Step 2: Next, draw in another circle for his eye and draw in his beak.
Step 3: Moving on to the toucan’s body now… Start at his head and draw in a nice, organic looking peanut shape for his torso.
Step 4: Next draw in his tail and his feet. For the tail, draw a cut-off triangle at the back of his body. Draw a small, rounded trapezium for the foot on the left. Draw two small triangles for the foot on the right.
Step 5: Let’s now start drawing the toucan’s wings. Draw three curves coming out of his body.
Step 6: Complete the wings by now drawing some large curves connecting the lines from Step 5.
Alrighty, we have completed our preliminary sketch for our cartoon toucan. Now grab a pen and let’s move on to the inking!
Cartoon Toucan Flying: The Inking Stage
Step 7: Let’s start the inking stage by inking in our toucan’s beak and eye. If you compare the beak in this step with the toucan sketch in Step 6, you’ll notice that the inking stage is a lot more complex. For the top of the beak, simply trace over the pencil sketch, but for the bottom part of the beak, draw a slightly wavey curve. The part of the beak where it connects with the head should be a back-to-front S.
Step 8: Now ink in the toucan’s chest. This is just a U shape with its sides slightly curving inwards.
Step 9: Let’s now start inking in the flying toucan’s wings. Simply follow the U shape from our sketch. But also add in a short, sharp line perpendicular to the U shape.
Step 10: Complete the rest of the wing. This looks complicated, but remember to rely on the sketch to guide you. We want the toucan to look feathery, so draw in some sharp waves following the sketch line.
Step 11: Now that you’re a pro at drawing a toucan’s wing, do it again on the other side!
Step 12: Let’s move down to the bottom of the toucan’s body. This is a very easy step, because all you need to do is trace over the sketch line. But make sure that you don’t ink in the bottom of the tail’s trapezium… that will come next!
Step 13: Hokay, now we can finish the tail! Connect the two sides of the tail with some sharp zig zags.
Step 14: Next, ink in the toucan’s feet. This is just a simple tracing over of the sketch.
Step 15: We have nearly finished the inking stage! Get out a thin black pen and put in some details! For the toucan’s beak, draw a curve at the tip of his beak. Draw in a tiny area under his chest – this will be colored in red later on. In each foot, draw in two lines to create his claws! Finally, Add some feathery texture on the upper part of his tail. This is just a whole bunch of “U”s stacked close together.
Step 16 (below): Let’s now add in the final details. Add in a whole bunch of more U shapes all over his chest, body and wings. Ink in some striated lines on his claws for extra texture on his feet. Finally, draw some thin lines crossing over his smile and two little hairs sticking out at the top of his head.
We have completed the inking of our toucan! Now it’s on to the coloring!
Cartoon Toucan Flying: The Coloring Stage
We are near the end! Grab your colors and let’s get coloring!
Step 17: You will need dark blue (or black), and red for the feathers, light blue for the feet and yellow for the toucan’s chest. For the toucan’s beak, you will need bright green, orange, purple (for the tip of the beak) and light blue (on the bottom). If you are coloring with pencils, remember to add at least two layers of color. That way, the toucan’s colors will look much richer and vibrant.
Step 18: The final step! Here we are adding in some subtle shadows and putting in a green background. If you are using coloring pencils, you can add in the shadows using a light shading of dark purple. The background is optional, but it’s always fun to draw in a background to add a little bit extra to the drawing!
Aaaand we are done! In this tutorial we learned how to draw a toucan sitting on a branch and a toucan flying.
I created these cartoon characters by looking at reference photos of toucans. I tried to break down their appearances using basic shapes. After a few designs, I settled on the ones that you see on this page.
Remember to think big and then go small. Start with big shapes – if your character doesn’t look good at this early stage, then it probably won’t look good when you slap a whole bunch of details on it either! Once you’ve drafted up a rough design that you think looks cool, then go ahead and give it some tender loving black pen and colors!
Once you’ve copied my toucans, feel free to try some of your own designs. Jump on Google and study a few photos that interest you. Then try and simplify your subject down into basic shapes and build it up into your own cartoon character!
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 course here : https://www.discovercartooning.com/courses/
Thanks so much for hanging out – I’ll see you in another post soon!