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A-Z of Bird Portraits
  • Publisher: Search Press
  • Edition: BC Paperback
  • Publication: 07 June 2019
  • ISBN 13/EAN: 9781782218173
  • Stock: Temporarily Out of Stock
  • Size: 216x280 mm
  • Illustrations: 0
  • Pages: 144
  • RRP: £12.99
More Information

A-Z of Bird Portraits


An illustrated guide to painting beautiful birds in acrylics by Andrew Forkner (Author)

Book Description

Now available in paperback!

Andrew Forkner's book provides you with all you need to paint a range of birds in acrylics; taking in birds of prey, songbirds and waterbirds from all over the world. It contains information on the materials and preparation you will need to capture the delicacy and majesty of the subjects.

Table of Contents

Introduction 6
Materials 8
Colours 10
Composition 12
Basic techniques 18
Features of birds 24
Projects 34
Alcedo atthis Common Kingfisher 36
Aquila chrysaetos Golden Eagle 40
Bombicylla garrulus Bohemian Waxwings 44
Cinclus cinclus White-throated Dipper 48
Dacelo novaeguineae Laughing Kookaburra 52
Egretta garzetta Little Egret 56
Erithacus rubecula European Robin 60
Falco tinnunculus Common Kestrel 64
Fratercula arctica Atlantic Puffin 68
Garrulus glandarius Eurasian Jay 72
Haliaeetus leucocephalus Bald Eagle 76
Icterus galbula Baltimore Oriole 80
Junco hyemalis Dark-eyed Junco 84
Lanius excubitor Great Grey Shrike 88
Merops apiaster European Bee-eater 92
Nycticorax nycticorax Black-crowned Night Heron 96
Oenanthe oenanthe Northern Wheatear 100
Picus viridis Green Woodpecker 104
Quelea quelea Red-billed Quelea 108
Recurvirostra avosetta Pied Avocet 112
Sitta Europea Eurasian Nuthatch 116
Troglodytes troglodytes Eurasian Wren 120
Tyto alba Barn Owl 124
Upupa epops Eurasian Hoopoe 128
Vanellus vanellus Northern Lapwing 132
Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus Yellow-headed Blackbird 136
Zenada macroura Mourning Dove 140
Index 144

About the Author

About Andrew Forkner

Andrew Forkner is a keen naturalist and has travelled the world in search of wildlife. His artwork has also travelled widely, with examples of his art in collections in the UK, Europe, Kenya, Canada, USA and Nepal. A self-taught wildlife artist, he works in a variety of media, including graphite pencil, acrylics and pastel to complete his originals. Andrew lives in Oxfordshire. He has produced several commissions for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, of which he has been a member for over thirty years.



Acrylics are unique among paints in that they can be used like watercolours or oils and have their own special characteristics that make them a great choice for all kinds of painting.  This book looks at how to use them when depicting twenty-seven different birds.


As this is a book about painting rather than drawing, that part has been taken care of so you can get on with learning more about acrylics.  Each bird comes with an outline to trace, plus detailed instructions on how to transfer it and even combine tracings.  This takes less time than drawing, so you can produce a whole walls worth of fine pictures in no time.  To begin there is advice on what to buy and why, a look at the palette of colours the artist works with and a piece about why he chose to work with acrylics.  There is also a chapter on how to make a pleasing composition, and paint features like feathers, bills, feet and eyes.  Throughout the book there are lots of tips showing how to do various things from working with washes, to using a viewfinder to test colours and how to paint various features from rocks and water to detailing on plumage, subtle shading and using backgrounds.  The birds themselves are a varied mix so you get plenty of practice at capturing diverse details.  They tend to mostly hail from the UK, Europe and the US rather than hotter climes and many you wont need to go far to see if you live in these places.  There are colourful species like the kingfisher, bee eater and green woodpecker and more subtly coloured birds such as the barn owl, wren, mourning dove and golden eagle.  Each project features a full sized painting plus tracing, list of what you need and a swatch down the page showing all the mixed colours; a useful tool.  The instructions are broken down into preparation followed by the various layers and finishing touches.  There is usually an inset detail showing a particular technique plus a very helpful actual size image of the picture showing the base colours before the final details go on.  Although there is nothing on the outside of the book to indicate it this would be a wonderful choice for a fairly inexperienced artist.  Even a beginner could have a go with the user friendly projects and achieve decent results.  More books like this please!


This book was originally published as a hardback in 2015.


If you cannot find a good range of acrylic painting materials locally try http://www.searchpress.com for a list of suppliers. 

Leisure Painter

August 2019

In Brief

Andrew Forkner's popular A-Z of Bird Portraits is now available in paperback, teaching you all you need to know about painting birds in acrylics. 

Leisure Painter

February 2015

Andrew Forkner's A-Z of Bird Portraits shows you how to set about capturing 26 birds in acrylics, with guidance on composition and important bird features. The clear and easy-to-follow step-by-step projects include plenty of annotated drawings and detailed colour mixes, allowing you to concentrate on the bird themselves.

Cake Craft & Decoration

February 2015

Art books like this one by Andrew Forkner's provide cake decorator's with great inspiration particularly when painting cakes, or producing lifelike wildlife to portray the cake recipient's hobbies and interests. This book provides you with all you need to paint a range of birds; taking in birds of prey, songbirds and waterbirds from all over the world. With easy-to-follow step by step projects, guidance on composition and important bird features.

Marian Carr, Bradford College

December 2014

As a concept art lecturer I look at a number of books and must admit this one intrigued me. The first impression I had was colour and life and this stuck with me as I followed the book. This feels like a natural history tour while explaining the proportions and colours for each bird and makes wanting to draw and paint each of the birds a natural progression. My only concern is that I might get paint on the pages!

Karen Platt Yarnsandfabrics.co.uk/crafts

November 2014

For painters and bird lovers everywhere. Great book with all you need to know to paint twenty-seven different bird species. Andrew uses acrylics, both as watercolour and in their natural state. He shows you how to capture features, characteristics and feathers. The instructions are clear, detailed and easy to follow. Outlines to trace, colour palette, materials needed, professional techniques and tips are all included. Beautifully illustrated. My favourite feature is that you also learn something about the birds including their latin names. Absolutely fabulous and highly recommended.


November 2014

Have you always wanted to paint lifelike pictures of birds? Inside these covers are staged instructions on how to paint twenty-seven of them in acrylics. You know when Search Press gives a book a hard cover instead of a paper one to expect something special and this is no exception. Self taught wildlife artist Andrew Forkner sets out his love of birds and acrylics in a user friendly manner, ranging from what you need to buy to painting tips. Learn how to capture feathers on paper as well as birds; feet and beaks, get to grips with the unique properties of acrylics and think about how to compose your picture. Each project has a drawing to trace with instructions on how to do this, plus what paint and brushes to use and even the type of paper. This is not a step-by-step book in the usual Search Press sense as the instructions are remarkably brief. But it does not state anywhere that this is a beginners book and it is not; aimed more at existing artists who want to try their hand at using acrylics and painting birds. There is a wide choice of these to paint, with British and American species being the main ones represented. Choose from favourites like a golden eagle, robin, kookaburra, bald eagle and mourning dove to name a few; the ends results are handsomely displayed as whole page illustrations in this large format book. This ought to appeal to any bird lover with a bit of painting experience who wants to try something new.


November 2014

There arent many books on painting birds. The reason, of course, isnt hard to find: not many people want (or think they want) to paint them. They do, however, provide a wide variety of colourful subjects and theres no reason in reality for them to be any less popular than flowers. And you cant move for books on flowers.


Andrew Forkner adopts the sensible strategy of putting all the basic techniques (working in acrylics) together at the beginning of the book. These include information on colours, composition, eyes, beaks and, most importantly, feathers. These are the building blocks youll use later when it comes to particular species. The approach avoids continuous repetition, but it does mean a degree of jumping about if you havent fully grasped the technical elements which, frankly, you should have. Time spent at this stage is like learning musical scales, unexciting perhaps, but invaluable.

The whole thing is neatly executed and is about as good, within its own constraints, as it could be.


The A-Z format has worked before, but that was for flowers, and its just that Im not sure this is the place for it. Flowers are popular and well-known. Bird are, too, but I doubt there are enough people who both admire them and want to paint them for something like this to work. Its not, when alls said and done, a book for the complete beginner and I do honestly think thats whats needed. On the other hand, if youre passionate about painting birds but need practice and instruction, this is absolutely the book for you.


To read the rest of this review see http://artbookreview.wordpress.com/

Also by this author:

A-Z of Bird Portraits

A-Z of Bird Portraits

By Andrew Forkner


Drawing Birds

Drawing Birds

By Andrew Forkner


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