The Swan is a beautiful species of bird. They are the largest members of the duck and goose family. With mute swans weighing as much as 15kg. There are six species in the genus. All the swans native to Britain have white plumage, whereas those from the Southern hemisphere have all black or partly black feathers.


The swan is graceful but also the most territorial and aggressive. Cobs tend to be more aggressive than their mates and can be particularly troublesome during breeding season. Although in a mixed collection swans may accept some smaller species such as the Hottentot teal, they can show aggression towards or even kill larger companions. As a result swans are better kept in individual pairs or where extensive water is available. The traits shown in the swan, or those that come through within the the actress role in black swan, she is aggressive and anger but although this unattractive trait is apart of the swan it never takes away from its grace and elegance. This is shown through the actress, Although she develops an aggression she maintains beauty and poise. I find it important when looking at creating a character to not just bring throughout physical traits but both those of habitat and mentality, as this is what creates the character and bring it to life. I felt that i wanted to look further into the swan and its habits. From researching i could find a few facts that might not give any inspiration but will be the touching details to how a final makeup turns out.

Swans spend considerable time in the water, but some also graze ashore. They are voracious vegetarians and their diet in captivity should be supplemented with wheat and layers pellets. Breeders pellets are recommended in breeding season.

Swans benefit from a long lifespan, some reaching as many as 30 years. Pair bonds are strong and swans usually mate for life. Mute, black and whooper swans are prolific breeders but other species breed more sporadically.

Notably there are two types of swans, the black and the white.

The Black Swan..

Black swans are prominent in wildfowl collections across the world. Easily recognisable by their black plumage, white flights and bright red bill, the black swan has a proportionately longer neck than any other swan. It is a feature that makes it particularly graceful whilst afloat. I think the white swan is really beautiful but i find the black more intriguing, as when we associate colours with emotions i immediately think dark to be evil, as a character i wants my final creature to be dark and mysterious. Similarly they use black feathers in the makeup of the movie ‘The Black Swan’. The dark feathers represent a evil existence, as her body is being taken over.

The black swan has a soft high-pitched bugle that is not very far reaching. It can also whistle, particularly when disturbed from nesting.

These swans are highly gregarious and may assemble in their thousands in Southern Australia and New Zealand. They are comfortable in a wide range of habitats but their preference is brackish and salt water lakes or wetlands.

Black Neck Swans..

The Black Neck swans combined both the black and white feathers, white represents elegance, and black the dark side and aggression of the swan.

Black-necked swans are highly ornamental but not abundant in wildfowl collections. The largest of South American waterfowl, the black-necked swan is defined by its white plumage and velvety black head and neck. It has a striking blue bill with large bright red knob or caruncle at its base.

The black-necked swan has a soft musical whistle. It is less aggressive than its closest relatives the mute or black swan, however they are known to be particularly intolerant of European shelducks.

These swans spend the majority of their time on water; with legs set far back on their body for greater efficiency, they are ungainly on land. The swans’ natural habitat is fresh water marshes, lagoons and shores.


Most people would agree with me that swans are some of the most beautiful birds in the world that have a quite mysterical quality about them. This is brought about with the numerous legends and tales in which they feature. For example the black swan, And most famously, the children’s tale of ‘the ugly duckling’.

In The Ugly Duckling, the baby swan is teased and bullied for being so ugly compared to the pretty yellow ducklings, but he grows up to be a beautiful swan and is then accepted by his kin. This is an idea is similar to the one of my human to creature transformation but in a different context, instead of ugly to beautiful, its beautiful to mystical. Swans are often considered symbols of devotion and fidelity because they are monogamous. However, Greek mythology has a legend called Leda and the Swan which suggests that Helen of Troy was conceived after a partnership between Zeus, disguised as a swan, and Leda, the Queen of Sparta. These symbols ultimately make me feel that the swan is the way forward of development in my idea to transform a woman to a human creature.

As from an irish background i was fascinated to research about the irish swan legend story about the Children of Lir, in which a wicked stepmother transforms her children into swans for 900 years. After they have undergone their time as swans, a monk breaks the spell and they come to life withered and old, then die to spend a happy time in heaven with the rest of their family. A second Irish legend tells the tale of The Wooing of Étaín, in which the king of the Sidhe – a group of subterranean, supernatural beings – has himself and the most beautiful woman in Ireland, Étaín, turned into swans to escape the King of Ireland and his hordes.

Through Researching Norse mythology  it told me how swans came to be white. Two of the birds drank from the sacred well of Urd in Asgard, the kingdom of the Gods, and the well is so pure that it turns all who drink from it and their descendents white.
Meanwhile, Kalevala, a Finnish legend, speaks of a swan who lives on the river of Tuoni in the underworld, the realm of the dead. Anyone who kills a swan will die, according to the story.
As we see, swans are important in myth and legend, and the photographs in this series show their beauty and perhaps help explain why so many stories grew up around them. All these legends gives me development to work with, and character i could possible create.


From this i wanted to look close at images of swans, there necks, beaks and especially there wings of feathers, i am really fascinated by swan feathers, Looking closely at the Anoatomy of the swans wing, and feathers, i can get a closer idea of the way in which a feather fall/ grows. This will allow me work out if ideas i have are doable.  I love the soft, delicate look of a swan feather. Its white, fluffy hair in the wind is cause for a beautiful view. I would like to work with feathers as i find they can make a piece come to life, or bring great colour or elegance to a piece depending on where the feather has came from. I have started to look at the anatomy of the swans wing, and set of the feathers. The set of the feathers can help me in putting together a design, of feathers and hair for a head piece. The setting of the feathers is very important to make it look realistic.


i went to the local park and got some snaps of the swans, i got to watch them, this let me see there reactions, movements and traits.

IMG_6159 IMG_6160



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s