How To Draw an Owl is a satirical instructional image purportedly illustrating how to draw an intricately detailed owl in two steps. Despite what the title suggests, the vast majority of the artistic process is left unexplained for comedic effect.
The illustrator behind the instruction remains unknown, however, the earliest known instance of the image was hosted on a Tumblr blog and submitted to the /r/Pics subreddit on August 21st, 2010. The post received 1,787 upvotes, 893 points overall and 124 comments prior to being archived. The top comment on the post pointed out a similarity to a comic featuring parody superhero the Tick (shown below, right), in which artist Ben Edlund instructs readers to draw the tick by first drawing an oval with a line in it, followed by drawing the Tick holding the oval. This comic was first published in 1997 as part of The Tick Omnibusand shared online as early as 2008.
In August 2010, the owl image was reposted on FunnyJunk, Buzzfeed and deviantART. Throughout the rest of 2010, the image continued to spread on DamnLOL, Democratic Underground and MemeCenter. In June 2011, it was reposted to /r/Funny, but only accrued 19 points overall. On January 5th, 2012, one of the first derivative instructional images was posted to Tumblr by artist Van Oktop providing a guide to drawing a horse. The post has received more than 7,200 notes and was featured on the curated Comics tag.
In April 2012, an interpretation of the Owl image created with the mobile gaming app Draw Something was posted to the /r/DrawSome subreddit. In May, an instructional image using artwork by late cartoonist Burne Hogarth was posted on Ki Creative Studio and in September, another variation of the owl image was shared on Flickr. In January 2013, artist Marlo Meekins posted a series of similar instructional drawings to her Tumblr.
How to Draw Draco Malfoy
On February 20th, 2013, Twitter user @wasabeeef0630 shared an image with similar satirical instructions on how to draw the Harry Potter character Draco Malfoy, as played by British actor Tom Felton. As of July 2013, this tweet has been retweeted more than 41,000 times and favorited more than 18,000 times. The image was inspired by blending Draco's Japanese name, Marufoi (マルフォイ) the phrase "Maru kaite" (まるかいて), or "Draw a circle." This yields the phrase "Maru kaite foi," translating to "Draw a circle. Presto!"
マルフォイの描き方。 pic.twitter.com/ZFt9zlKv— わさ★ビーフ (@wasabeeef0630) February 20, 2013
Other Twitter users began to draw similar images with other Harry Potter characters, resulting in the creation of a mobile app in July 2013 that produces a drawing of Draco after the user inputs a circle (shown below). Coverage of this drawing phenomenon was posted on Kotaku on July 4th, 2013. The article was syndicated on Airing News and Addicted Gamer the same day.
 Airing News – Japan's “Draw the Owl” Meme Has a Harry Potter Twist
 Addicted Gamer – Japan's �Draw the Owl� Meme Has a Harry Potter Twist