SNOW on paper A short look inside the process of illustrating a Snowy Owl, pieces 1 – 3

SNOW on paper A short look inside the process of illustrating a Snowy Owl, pieces 1 – 3

Words and art by Jen Brumfield


Sketch 1: Finding the right pose and angle is key! To make a black and white bird come to life on a flat piece of paper, I chose a flight pose – a bird banking hard, showing powerful flight, heavy and long body, and piercing eyes. The first initial sketch is always pretty rough. It’s less about nailing a facial expression and more about getting jizz, proportions and angles down.


Sketch 2: Once the sketch is looking good, it’s time to harden some lines and get the eyes, bill, and head down pat. Key to an owl is abstaining from “cute” – while absolutely stunning and beautiful beyond words, these predators are fierce, intense and stern. Eyes and facial expression must be correctly interpreted as hard, cold but determined, and focused. While working with facial expression, black barring across the body and tail begins to take form.


Sketch 3: Hardening more lines and adding more black barring. Deepening shadows and giving more and more form and lift to the bird. From here, wings will get the next big batch of attention, until coming back to add more shadowing and putting a final last focus on head/face to make sure this SNOW carries the full vibe.

We’ll check back in with Jen as she wraps up her Snowy Owl piece for the Project SNOWstorm fundraiser. You can get your own Snowy Owl print by supporting Project SNOWstorm via the indiegogo site here.