How to Make a Detailed, Silhouetted Wing

This tutorial will demonstrate how to make a silhouetted wing from custom feather brushes.

Step 1: Creating Your Custom Feathers

Use your Pen Tool and draw out some custom feather shapes. You’ll want to curve each of them slightly differently, to give a little variation in shape. You can ‘fray’ each of the feathers too, making some little gaps along their curves to show some separation and texture, as shown above.

Now, to create the actual brush.

Bust out the Cropping tool and draw a box around one of the feathers and hit the enter key. Make sure you feather is black and the background is white. Everything white is going to show up transparent, and everything black will be the brush.


Go to Edit>Define Brush.

Name the brush whatever you like.

Once you’ve accepted the name, select your Brush tool and go to the brushes menu. At the end of it you will find your custom brush. It may look distorted in the preview, but I assure you it’s exactly as you created it.

Step 2: Outlining the Wing

Take a small brush with your Brush tool and a light grey or anything you want and sketch out a wing. This does not at all have to be perfect, in fact you just want a general shape to go on because this is going to change immediately after we make it.

Once you have the shape, use your Pen Tool and draw an even more simple shape inside of the wing.

Step 3: Applying the Feathers

Create a new layer and pick one of your new feather brushes. Click once on the canvas out in a white area. Select around the feather with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (dotted box), and hit CTRL+T to transform the feather. From here, you can reverse the way the feather is shaping, change the size and/or the angle of the feather. Whatever you end up doing, you’re going to also drag it to the wing, placing it where you see the best fit.



If you’re not exactly sure where you should be putting the feathers, it’s all right. You’re going to be layering so many of these that it’s not going to look awkward at all when it’s finished.



A quicker way to place several feathers down is to space several feathers out across the canvas. Leave enough room for easy selection around them. Then, you can select each one and place it much faster.


To finish your wing, simply repeat the feather steps for application until you’re satisfied with the spacing. Try to switch up the size and direction of the feathers along the wing to give it some variation. It will look less ‘manufactured’ if you pay attention to the surrounding feathers.

Have fun!

By Kirin Knapp

Kirin Knapp is a graphic designer for the iEntry Network, publishing company of FlashNewz. A flash animator and illustrator, she is the creator of her home site, Inkdu.com.

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