“Barn Owl” Print
A stark but meticulously detailed and striking image of a nocturnal predator swooping out from the inky blackness of night.
It had been over eight years (!) since I last drew an owl, so it was high time to do another. Animals are a favorite subject of mine, in particular birds. And to break it down even further: owls. They’re fascinating creatures, these birds of prey that are so highly evolved and specialized for silent, nocturnal hunting. Visually, they’re so set apart from other birds and have a number of interesting physical adaptations for their ecologic niche—extra large forward-facing eyes, endlessly rotatable neck, and soft feathers for silent flight.
Barn owls are perhaps the eeriest-looking of the owls, if not the creepiest birds of all. Their large, empty dark eyes and flat, featureless faces are strikingly unsettling, and the way their bone white forms swoop out of the inky blackness when you’re driving along a country road at night… chilling. And that’s what I wanted to capture!
From the start I wanted to do a very stark image, with practically no detail save for the owl itself. My original composition was even emptier; just the owl against the blackness. But it proved to be too stark and the composition was unbalanced. The branches helped to even it out and to frame the form of the owl. My concept for the piece was of this to be the last thing a mouse sees!
Inking was done almost entirely with Sharpies (typically I use a variety of pens, mostly Rapidographs). I didn’t set out to render it in a photorealistic style (it was to be more graphic like the previous owl, though still textured), but the delicate lines around the eyes demanded a softer, sketchier approach (much like my octopus). Color was kept equally stark. Barn owls are mostly white, but do have a good amount of color (brown and gold). I dialed down the saturation and gave the image a washed-out, sepia tone. It’s practically black and white, which I think helps to not distract away from the detailed quality of the linework, and to enhance the silent, nocturnal nature of this creature.