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Avian Files: Feathers I by SilverFlight Avian Files: Feathers I by SilverFlight
So I have registered for an avian biology course which will eventually teach a basic understanding of bird anatomy amongst other things. Since this is directly related to the things I draw I decided to squish the two together. This is not a traditional art tutorial in that I don't tell you how to draw things, but I tell you about them so you can create more detailed (and anatomically correct) works yourself. I also tell you many of the whys that perhaps you wonder about but have never known.
The 'Avian files' are a new project, a hybrid of art and science, I'm sure they'll become more useful as I get used to making them.
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:icondaydragonart:
DayDragonArt Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2018  New Deviant Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for this one! I have been looking for some good feather reference to make my MLP pegasus wings(which are based on small bird's, round and used for flapping and not gliding,) more believeable.
This was very helpful!
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:iconxepharon:
Xepharon Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2013
See, while this isn't exactly a How-to, I did find it VERY useful in my current project, which has yet to be finished. Anyway, it gives insight to how a feather shape is, and thus, will help in correct wing shapes as well. Thank you.
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You are very welcome :)
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:iconxepharon:
Xepharon Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2013
^_^ Well, because of your very informative piece there, I did say I had a project going. I've finished it, and although the feathers are not by any means perfect, your image here was a huge help in the design. Thank you. If you'd like, so as not to seem like I'm advertising artwork on other people's pages, I'd like to still show you, but perhaps a PM link. Again, thank you.
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'd love to see it :)
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:iconxepharon:
Xepharon Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2013
=D Well, they aren't perfect, mind you, I have never done feathers in this much detail, but here [link]
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey! I love that texturing. And your body form is amazing. I love the motion in the whole piece. ^^
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:iconxepharon:
Xepharon Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013
Thank you! I really appreciate that! Your artwork is simply gorgeous, by the way! Just... Wow.

...I feel kind of shameful really, I hadn't looked actually until now >.>; I'm sorry...*hides*

But yeah... that compliment, coming from you... Makes me happy ^_^
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you very much ^^ and all compliments from me are certainly earned. =P
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(1 Reply)
:iconauronyth:
Auronyth Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2012  Professional General Artist
Great information and useful tips!
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Apr 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you!
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:iconrhavkoress:
Rhavkoress Featured By Owner Jul 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Hey if it helps make it stick with you go do it. ;)
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
XD
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:iconsiriusbells:
siriusbells Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2011
Amazing. I'm favoriting this and referencing it whenever I draw wings.
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you. I'll try and get one done that goes through wing anatomy, from bone to muscle to feathers. Its so much easier if you can picture the real proportions and joint positions under the feathers.
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:iconsiriusbells:
siriusbells Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2011
Thank you very much. :) It would help a lot!
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:iconmightymeller:
MightyMelleR Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2011
well thank you very much for this tutorial!
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You are very welcome. ^^
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:icondragonling140:
Dragonling140 Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011
Super awesome :la:
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you!
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:icondragonling140:
Dragonling140 Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2011
You're welcome :)
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh noes! I lost the game!!! Xl
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:icondragonling140:
Dragonling140 Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2011
Bwa ha ha.
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:icongenkofox:
GenkoFox Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Student General Artist
niiiice! XD
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks!
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:iconfalconsong:
Falconsong Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Professional General Artist
Actually there are three main types of feathers (according to my thesis co-chair, an ornithologist): Vaned, down and filoplume. (I thought there were two- vaned and down- but he corrected me saying "There are 3 main types; you left out filoplume, which have some very specific functions including in the transmission of nerve impulses from individual feathers to the brain for control. "- note on my paper. I figured filoplume fell under "vaned" but apparently not. Wikipedia insists on only two basic types and lists filoplum as a "special rarer third type", source of this being from an essay in The Quaterly Review of Biology.) If you want to define speciffic feathers then there are far more than the five you listed: Contour, remiges (flight feathers-primaries, secondaries), rectrices (tail), down, semiplume, bristle, filoplume. Theres also after feathers and powder down feathers in some birds (different from down feathers because down feathers are moulted, powder downs grow constantly and the tips break off as they go turning into a powder, such as seen in african greys and cockatoos).

It seems that avian biologists and ornithologists like to call things differing names sometimes or conveniently forget to list feathers or how they view the "list", so depending on who you ask, the "number of feather types" varys from something like 2-10... It's been fun trying to sort through the confusion for my thesis (and I'm not entirely sure that the "there are three types of feathers" is fully accurate but after this many re-writes I don't care so much anymore). Add to it the confusion when reading visualization papers (which are written by people who know little about birds and will often call covert feathers "down feathers") and it makes one want to go stark raving mad. ^_^

...And I still don't understand why filoplume isn't counted as a "vaned feather" thereby making it "two types fo feathers- Vaned and non-vaned"... But that would just make it too easy I suppose.

(BTW, my thesis is on rigging feathered bird wings for computer animation, in case you were wondering.)
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm sure there are countless ways to classify feathers, being exposed to the scientific community in the ways I have there are many disagreements in many different branches of biology, which is notorious for being an inexact science.
I was taught there are 5 basic types of feathers, including the filoplume which I mentioned in the first paragraph. I have a great deal of respect for my prof. being a very qualified avian biologist and having been and classifying birds for countless years.
I won't be going into the different forms of contour feathers any further than I have, but in later pages I will discuss the form and function of the other 4 types.
I'm sure many more disagreements could be made on the way I have been taught what's what, but because I consider this course a fairly important part of my zoology degree I'll be relating what my professor teaches. Though it is always useful to know other views as well, I hope you'll continue to watch the Avian Files and keep me in line! ^^
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:iconfalconsong:
Falconsong Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Professional General Artist
My thoughts are that it depends on how the person thinks about bird feathers. There are tons of "types" but if you're tryig to classify it on an overall scheme, there would be three. From there it forms an inverse tree and the other "types" of feathers. Top level of the tree would be structure is types based on general structure (vaned feathers, down feathers, filoplume) second level would be the types based on function (the five you listed in general, plus or minus a few), then third level would be the rarer special stuff that can be considered branches of the second level (regular down, feather down and natal down could be branches of the general tag of "Down".) This is how I view it and it makes more sence to me this way. It also explains why numerous sources (ALL of them well educated and reliable- onithologists, old research papers, etc.) will say "two types" and other (equally reliable) sources say "5/6/10/etc." types. It just depends on what level of the tree they consider as "types".

(Still don't know why filoplume doesn't fall under vaned though... Yes I will grouse about it till I figure it out, I can't ignore a puzzle and this puzzles me. Maybe it's that vaned and un-vaned/down feathes don't have the nervous connection filoplumes have....)

I can understand where the confusion on types comes from. What I can't understand is the mixup of terms seen in my field (visualization). For example, I was reading on how the gryphons in Narnia were made and the notes said something about the flight feathers being broken up into primaries and secondaries and then the down feathers were generated procedurally using code. I wanted to headdesk because they meant wing covert feathers, since creating down feathers for a movie would be stupid as those are never seen in movie creatures. --*

Of course I will continue to watch, I'm fascinated by birds and my thesis work is on wings. ^^ It'd be hard to keep me FROM watching!
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:icontenshikitsune:
tenshikitsune Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011
Science just got a little more badass- Now do a Human Anatomy one with a comparative study on progressive illness and infections and I'll be set for life :P

<3

-Ps- Smirky cocky Griffin is hilarious :P Looks just like you!
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Not a snowball's chance in Hell I'm afraid ^^
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:icontenshikitsune:
tenshikitsune Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2011
So like, really improbably low but significantly higher 'cause I outfit all my snowballs in protective space-age bubblewrap conducive to high temperatures?
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No dear, a normal snowball. ^^
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:iconclockworksky:
ClockworkSky Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011
I agree with *LadyZero it IS wonderful and thank you! Great idea for combining the two. That's how I like to study!
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No better way for visual people like me! XD You're welcome.
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:iconserzero:
serzero Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
This is wonderful! Thanks so much for posting!
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Pleasure's all mine!
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:iconrethiamat:
Rethiamat Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011
Wow! Brilliant! The very concept of an art-science hybrid piece here on DA isn't one I see often!
I reckon you COULD call this a tutorial of sorts!
Either way, you got a fav from me!
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:iconsilverflight:
SilverFlight Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Lols, thank you, I might attach a series of pure art tutorials when I have time to draw them ^^.
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