Ok so it's become obvious I'm going to have rethink technique for snowy owls. I've ditched the dark background and tried to model the shapes with subtle blues for the shadows. Ends of the wing feathers are now defined by paint rather than negative space with the background. Details are dark and sparse.
I think there's progress here and I'm learning as I go. The shadows are *very* subtle and edges are crucial whether they're crisp or soft. Also pencil lines need to be very light or non-existent. Hard edges spoil the effect.
A few more experimental goes and I hope we'll be good for the demo.