A couple of people (Lisa & Emily) at the recent workshop asked me how to draw an individual feather....I didn't get a chance to demonstrate to the class, so I thought I'd draw a Wild Turkey feather and outline the steps involved.
Step 1 - Place the feather on your page and mark the tip and end of the quill. Connect them together by following the curve of the feather shaft (called Rachis).
Step 2 - Lightly block in the outside contour.
Step 3 - Indicate the location of any bands or spots.
Step 4 - Pay attention to the individual barbs that grow from Rachis. Shade in the same direction using basic hatching. To build up the density, keep applying pencil strokes over top in the same direction, but don't cross hatch...it won't look right.
Step 5 - A paper stump can be useful for blending if you want to smooth out the transition between tones. If you need to add crisp straight highlights, cut into a hard eraser for a clean edge and use that to lift off the graphite from the paper.
That's the basics right there. Have a go yourself and let me know how it turns out.