This illustration was painted using watercolor, and I knew I wanted to superimpose the hawks over a textured dream-like background. My first thought was to paint the whole thing on yupo paper, a watercolor paper that is essentially made from plastic. However, I wanted more detail and an oil effect for the hawks, so I painted them independently on Arches Hot Press. Separately, I did a heavy wash of a granulating watercolor on a piece of yupo paper and let it dry overnight. The effect is a swirling sky with static clouds and water bubbles. I scanned them and touched things up a bit in photoshop.
I referenced the movement of the hawks by scrounging around youtube looking for videos. I came across this nat geo video, pause on 1:54 to see the rough and tumble.