Mechanical Owl – original by Shane Swann
Medium: Acrylic, fine liner, permanent marker
Mechanical Owl blog post
The idea for the owl illustration came from a feeling that even though I had been enjoying the subject matter of my wildlife illustrations, I was also beginning to miss the more imaginative, improvised approach I would apply to the abstract work I use to produce. This gave me the idea to attempt to fuse the two very different styles together.
I used the vibrant colour and the intricate mechanical shapes that feature in a lot of my old abstracts, and composed them into the form of an owl. I went about doing this by first looking at photos of different owls flying, familiarising myself with the form and all their features. Then using my imagination to try to transform those features into abstract or mechanical shapes, but also trying not changing them so much that they are no longer recognisable as feathers, eyes, beak etc anymore.
I then started drawing out a basic pencil sketch of the owl flying towards the viewer, planning out the composition and trying to workout further the abstraction of the features. Once I was happy with the design, I painted over the whole drawing with watered down florescent magenta and orange acrylic paint, creating a mottled extremely bright effect. I even had to wear sun glasses after a while of painting because it was making me feel sick due to the brightness.
After completing this, the paint was watered down enough so that I could still see my line drawn design underneath, so I then started working into to that with two types of black pen. One with a very fine nib for the detail, the other much thicker and glossier to block in larger areas. Once all the detail was drawn in, the overbearing brightness was gone, leaving only a zinging sense of colour radiating from between the black.