I started at the L.A. Zoo, which features two species of vulture - the Andean Condor and the King Vulture. These two birds might be related, but judging from their appearances alone, they are for sure third cousins several times removed (disclaimer - I am not a biologist).
The Andean Condor is gigantic as far as birds go. Their wingspan is ten feet, which is quite a sight to behold when they open them up all the way...Michael Keaton as Batman status.
I was fortunate/unfortunate enough to catch the King Vulture right as she was feeding. So that means I watched a vulture eat a dead rabbit. After initially being severely grossed out, I got over it and started drawing. In the end, I'm that glad I caught this...it's what vultures do best after all.
I settled on the White Rumped Vulture of Africa for Noir, the story's villain. With their bald heads, sharp beaks and black feathers, they look like the most typical vulture...which was perfect for the by-the-book Noir.
When it came to "cast" Violette, the sweet and unique star of the story, I wanted to find a vulture that was distinctly different and more colorful than the others. I could not BELIEVE my eyes when I stumbled upon the White Headed Vulture. She looks like what I imagine Tilda Swinton would look like if she were a vulture. Elegant, poised, sharp hair styling...and my god that collar.