Umbrella Cockatoo with an umbrella

Since discovering Illustration Friday, I’ve always wanted to submit a piece. I love their rule: illustrate anything that has anything to do with their word of the week. The rule is just specific enough that there is a starting point for one’s imagination. This week, the word is umbrella. I was looking to draw some birds to get my pens out (quills, get it?) and back in action. Umbrella cockatoos! They are so funny and whimsical. I love it.

I’m digging myself out of a very tough winter and getting the groove back of drawing and illustrating. Phew! It’s been really hard since last fall! It seems like my to-do list has tripled from various factors. 

Here’s my first attempt.



Sakura Pigma Micron Pen: Brown 01 

My favorite pen these days is Sakura Pigma Micron in browns and sanguine. It gives a very classy feel and it keeps me from getting too dark compared to a black pen. This sounds obvious, but I lose myself looking really hard at shadows and sometimes overemphasize the darks and make the overall image too dark.

Illustrating in pen is a lot different from illustrating in pencil. One major thing about pens is that unless you have some tricks up your sleeve, it’s harder to erase a pen line than a pencil line. Lots of illustrators shy away from pen for this reason. 

I make mistakes all the time, so I have no trouble erasing. Where I get stuck is that I erase too often and not make any forward progress. Plus, pencils can come in various hardness, and I can get stuck with a very light pencil such as 2H and be intimidated to move forward. 

I really have to push forward to get to the projects I’ve been really wanting to work on, but couldn’t for various reasons. I had to keep playing offense and gain a bit of momentum.

The first attempt is okay, but I wanted to try again. I’m happier with the second attempt.

I could try one more time–I’m slowly figuring out how to create texture with the pen to describe the different textures of the feathers. Their head and feet are bigger than what I think they should be. It looks funny, and I appreciate everything about them.

Umbrella Cockatoo (Cacatua alba)Fun Facts

  1. Adult females can have reddish/brownish irises, and males usually have black irises. 
  2. They have zygodactyl feet–two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing back–to hold onto objects such as umbrellas.
  3. They are omnivorous: carbs like corn, proteins like insects. 
  4. Name comes from their feathers on their head that can open like an umbrella.
  5. Their other name, “velcro bird” comes from the fact that they like to cuddle. 
  6. Lifespan in captivity is 40-60 years. ~30 years in the wild.

Thanks Illustration Friday!

Pen is nice because it’s harder to erase. We just have to keep going forward, both in life and in art.