E is for Emu

Emu Doodlewash by Charlie O'Shields

Well, it seems that an Emu was among the most requested subjects for today’s doodlewash, so that’s where we landed. Not the entire emu, mind you, because their funny little faces and big orange eyes are the best part. This big little guy is listed as the second largest living bird by height after its cousin the ostrich. The emu is a flightless bird that is also an important cultural icon of Australia, appearing on the coat of arms and various coins.

Years ago, when I was the Creative Director of an interactive design firm, we were challenged to create an online game for Lee Jeans in support of their sponsorship of the annual Gravity Games – an extreme sport competition that ended in 2006. Lee had featured an emu in an incredibly weird commercial they were running, so we decided it would be fun to make it the star of our game. The next step was simply to figure how how to combine an emu with an extreme sport.

We chose the fringe extreme sport of BASE jumping, which involves the incredibly shortsighted idea of skydiving off a cliff. Next, we figured our game would consist of helping an emu perform this stupid stunt using the gameplay of an old Atari game called Lunar Lander where you had to safely land your shuttle on the surface at just the right speed. The result was an edgy, strangely fun and addictive game that became rather popular at the time with the simple and ludricrous title of Emu*Lander: Because Emu’s Can’t Fly.

Needless to say, this was one of my favorite jobs of all time. It’s not every day you get to make ridiculous video games for a living. But of all the various websites and games we created during that time, this was one of my favorites. I still have a soft spot for emus to this day. Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Next up is F, and it’s Draw a Bird day tomorrow (championed by Laura at Create Art Everyday and hosted again this month by Kerfe and Nina over at Method Two Madness), so if you make a suggestion in the comments, help me think of something that’s another one of our fine feathered friends.

About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Azo Orange, Quinacridone Gold,  and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal



Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
  1. Diane Wallace Studios 7 years ago

    Love your emu. F is for Flamingo…..can you tell I’m moving to Florida soon!

  2. Jill Kuhn 7 years ago

    Your Emu is extremely wild and wonderful, Charlie! 😜 Love the orange eyes! As for a feathered friend, how about a Falcon? 😄🎨🌟

    • Author

      Thanks Jill! 💕😃hehe…emus are so weird, but kind of cool! Glad you liked him. I couldn’t even exaggerate those eyes. In the all the references I found it was like they were flowing! Hehe… Hmm…falcon could be cool! I’ll see what happens when I grab for the pen tomorrow 😉I’m not sure until I do! 😊🎨

      • Jill Kuhn 7 years ago

        It will be FANtastic whatever you create, Friend! 😃👍🎨

  3. memadtwo 7 years ago

    That game sounds like fun. I remember when every young child wanted to grow up to design video games! And once again, a face all can love.
    Well, I already suggested flamingo, but I’ll just be official about it. (K)

  4. Kari 7 years ago

    You are certainly creative! Your emu has the most precious expression, as if to say, “what the heck were you thinking?” Hahaha

  5. Teresa Robeson 7 years ago

    Heeey, you should have saved this for Bird Day tomorrow! Such a an ugly cutie-pie! You put such expression in its eyes. I love him/her! <3

    • Author

      Awww thanks Teresa! 💕😃yeah…I almost went with elephant, but I already did one of those. I’ll still be doing a bird for tomorrow though! 😉

  6. Jodi 7 years ago

    What an adorable emu! Love the eyes and the fuzzy hair! A flock of flying flamingos – I’m guessing flamingos are going to be popular! 🙂 Or how about a furtive flycatcher?! Betcha have to google that one – hehe!

    • Author

      Thanks Jodi!! ❤️😃hehe…the fuzzy hair worried me at first, but I was pleased with how it turned out! And yes…flamingos are popular…but a flock sounds challenging! Lol yep! Had to google furtive flycatcher…cute bird… And should win just for the name alone! Hehe

  7. Catherine Johnson 7 years ago

    I love the detail in this. Flamingo would be fun tomorrow.

  8. artandmoondreams 7 years ago

    Gorgeous eyes, beautiful reflective quality, and such a cute and endearing face…love your painting, an instant smile maker. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Jacob 7 years ago

    Oh how adorable! And expertly done, your eyes as usual are talking to me… I now want an emu, or at the very least I’d like some coins with them on. He looks slightly perplexed to me – perhaps he’s seen your game? 😉 That sounds like it was a hoot! I’ll have to look for this Lunar Lander, too… I was going to say I’ll spent my Sunday playing it but I’ve just remembered it’s Monday tomorrow. Or actually it’s Monday today. I think I’m tired.

    I would gladly support either Falcon or Flamingo for next time!

    • Author

      Thanks Jacob! 😃Lol…he would definitely be perplexed by seeing the game. It was weird. Some mirror sites downloaded it…so if you google it you can still play it (though they didn’t get the fonts, but the main graphics are there and it’s still playable at least! Lol) hehe…yes, it’s Monday there already…and sounds like you need some sleep. Hopefully, a dream of owning your own emu and not scary girls with bears. 😉👍🏻Sweet dreams!

      • Jacob 7 years ago

        I found your game and reached level 14. Hilarious and very addictive!

        Who was I more scared of: the bear or the girl? Good question. There were no emus last night, sadly. 😛

        • Author

          Haha! That’s awesome! I knew you’d be able to find it! Lol Trying sending the emu up off the screen and then just press down to send him to the bottom. It’s horrible. 😳lol Might be in your dreams tonight!

          • Jacob 7 years ago

            Level 15 this time! 😉 It’s the sort of thing I can imagine doing very well as an app today (if it isn’t already out there in some form!) a la Flappy Bird.

          • Author

            Nice!! Yeah…it’s sort of retro cool again. I’m sure it would hold its own as a silly app! Hehe

  10. This is wonderful, Charlie! Absolutely love the eyes. Terrific job with his very cool kooky face. Thanks for the mention, I really appreciate that. 💜 flaming go and falcon were my picks, so how about a Finch? There are purple ones that look cooler than the house finches. Flicker is also a cool one. I’m so glad you’ll be drawing a bird! Happy day to you, my bro and friend. 💜💜💜

    • Author

      Awww thanks Laura! 💕😃All your faces made me want to focus there for one of these! And the kooky face is the best part of an emu! Lol I had to google purple finch…pretty!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those! 😊happy day to you as well, sis!! ❤️

  11. *haha autocorrect. Flamingo. lol

  12. Carmel Campbell 7 years ago

    The expression is priceless!

  13. Teri C 7 years ago

    Love able Emu face and great commentary.
    I can already see a pink flamingo for tomorrow

    • Author

      Thanks Teri!! 💕😃Glad you liked this post! And yep…looks like flamingo is favored to win at this point, but we’ll see what happens when I start to sketch. I never know for sure! 😊hehe

  14. Sharon Mann 7 years ago

    What a cutie and I do love the eyes! I was hoping for a Emu! Beautiful doodlewash Charlie.

    • Author

      Hehe! Yeah…I couldn’t resist trying an emu when I looked at photos of them again. I didn’t remember they were so cute! Glad you liked him Sharon! Thanks! 💕😃

  15. anna warren portfolio 7 years ago

    He’s a great emu Charlie, they do have amazing eyes! But they have a nasty streak, you don’t want one creeping up behind you when you are in their way!

    • Author

      Thanks Anna!! 💕😃Yeah…I’ve heard that!! Hehe…guess it’s best to stay far away from them. 😳

    • jmnowak 7 years ago

      Oahh, that’s not right, Anna! I used to hand feed ’em. They’re like chickens…once they know you’ve got the food, they follow you ’round. I think they’re cuties! Just like this doodlewash, Charlie!
      PS: Can I get in early and ask for Hummingbirds next?!

  16. debiriley 7 years ago

    now that is an exciting eye popping emu Charlie! looking LOVELY! cheers, mate…. so, you going for an Oz theme? 🙂

    • Author

      Hehe…no, but they do have some amazing animals there so I’m sure more will crop up this month! Thanks Debi!! Glad you liked this little emu! 💕😃

  17. kathiwerner 7 years ago

    Awesome emu, Charlie, you got his expression right! I used to despair when trying to life-sketch the emu and the nandu (his blue-eyed cousin from south-america) in our zoo. It seems flamingo is chosen, but if not: flycatcher – there are very colorful ones (like Vermillion Flycatcher)!

    • Author

      Thanks so much Kathi!! 💕😃 I’m still on the fence so to speak on which bird to doodlewash. People keep suggesting ones I’ve never heard of like this. Hehe…I’m learning a lot while googling them all! Nice! 😊

  18. Tori 7 years ago

    Great emu to go with a great story Charlie, thanks for sharing 😊

  19. Susan Feniak 7 years ago


  20. YesterdayAfter 7 years ago

    Oh Charlie your emu is very lovely! 🙂

  21. itsmyhusbandandme 7 years ago

    It’s just like when I look in a mirror…!

  22. Cathe 7 years ago

    What a handsome Emu, I agree it’s in his (or) her eyes! Looking forward to F!

  23. dapplegrey 7 years ago

    Lovely little emu face! I love it! But have you ever seen a live one? Because their eyes are not the most amazing part of them in fact. I think it would be hard to see this from photographs but their tail feathers are completely AMAZING and their feet are – well I can’t tell you, except that all I could think of was dinosaur. And they are SO Huge! I never fail to marvel at how you manage to get such good drawings from photographic references!

    • Author

      Thanks so much!! I have seen an emu in person…their feet do look like a dinosaur’s!! Hehe… But I always get enamored with eyes. It’s fun to try to give them more of an aware expression than actually exists. I like to use a few references and then make a few extra bits up. Without heading to the zoo each day or moving to another continent it would be difficult to get live versions of all of the animals I want to sketch! Hehe

  24. Myriam (Myr's Bytes) 7 years ago

    Sooooooo cute :-)! Really, really awesome emu portrait!!!! And your story is hilarious and so is the Lee video (@#*??!). The making of an emu video game does sound like a very cool job.

    • Author

      Thanks Myriam! Yeah…it was a super fun time working on those projects. But it was actually really fun doodlewashing an emu so it’s all good! Lol Glad ya liked him!

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