Step 6 - Hold down Alt and drag to make copies of the feathers. Then, using the Selection tool (V), distribute copies of the feathers around the eye. Adjust the scale and rotation for each feather to make them a little chaotic – this gives the picture a more realistic look. Continue adding feathers, placing them around the eye area.
Step 7 - When you’ve finished placing the feathers, adjust some of the gradient colours to add a little variety and contrast. To do this, I selected some of the shapes and made the gradient colours darker. Select the eye and all the surrounding feathers and make a copy (Cmd/Ctrl + C), then reflect them (right-click > Transform > Reflect > Vertical). In the same way, continue filling the owl’s head and body with feathers. Spend a lot of time playing with colours, making some parts of the owl brighter or darker to create the effect of volume.
Step 8 - When the owl’s body is done, draw a tree under it. Fill it with a bright gradient to make it contrast with the eyes. Then, using the Pen tool and gradients, add long feathers on the owl’s head and draw the claws. To add shadows under the claws, copy all the shapes that make up the claws into a separate layer, and unite them with the Pathfinder toolbar. Send this shape behind the claw’s group.