On the seventh day of Christmas, seven white swans are swimming during a hail storm, straightening their necks and looking up to minimise hail damage and injury.

I wasn’t really sure what to draw for the Seventh Day of Christmas besides the seven swans. I struggled to come up with an idea that hadn’t been done before. Swans in bathing outfits and snorkels are quite common on the internet. There are even some synchronised swans to be found.

Eventually I recalled a photo I had seen many years ago of some black swans by a lake during a hail storm. Cleverly enough, they straighten their necks and look upwards to lessen the horizontal surface area produced by their head and the arch in their neck when swimming or standing normally. This behaviour lessens their likelihood of being hit in the neck or head by a hail stone.

A small and rather poor quality image has been included below so you can get an idea of what they actually look like when they do this.

Swans in Hail Storm

With this in mind, I worked on my version of this. I have no preference for swan colour, but mine ended up being white. While I’ve not seen white swans behaving this way, I’m just assuming this behaviour would be the same across all types of swans (so long as they have long, slender and arched necks).

They have also been drawn in the V formation typically observed during flight. They probably don’t swim this way. I just thought it would be fun to mimic their flight pattern on the water.

One problem I ran into while colouring this drawing was gradient colour banding. I thought I had finished but when I uploaded to some destinations there was some significant colour banding that I hadn’t seen in production. I ended up having to lessen the gradient colour differential and remove a layer mask I had applied. There is still some mild colour banding evident, but it’s not as bad as it was. The only trade off was that I didn’t quite get the misty effect I was going for. It does however, begin to look a bit murky towards the top of the image but that’s ok as rain and hail storms tend to be a bit that way.

It was very tempting to just draw one swan, then copy, paste and resize to produce the seven required. I’m pleased to say I resisted the temptation and drew each one by hand. I can’t say the same of the water ripples and hail stones.

No swans were injured during the making of this cartoon.