One of the best tips to keep in mind when making owl cupcakes is to think in terms of three main design methods and use one or more of them. One idea is to have a full owl figure taking up most of the room on the cupcake. Another owl cupcake method is to use the cupcake's top as the owl's body and face, then have wings and ears protruding from the edges. A good method for beginners concerned about making too many mistakes is to first decorate sugar cookie shapes before placing them on the owl cupcakes.
The owl-shaped sugar cookies could be made ahead to save time. Since the basic shape of the owl will be there, some outlining with frosting using a cake decorator bag can define the wings and other features. Either the cookies could be done in different colors of piped on frosting or candies may be used for the eyes and beak. By decorating the cookies and placing them on plainly frosted cupcakes, beginners don't have to pipe an owl directly onto each cupcake. The decorated owl cookies could be placed upright or flat on the top of each background-frosted cupcake.
To make owl cupcakes with protruding wings and ears, a chocolate-frosted top tends to work well. Chocolate sprinkles may be added to give further texture to the owl body. Simple triangular and almond or leaf shapes can be cut with a knife from sugar cookie dough and baked before cooling, then topped with the chocolate frosting and sprinkles. These cookie parts should be placed into each decorated owl cupcake before the frosting sets.
When decorating the main cupcake, two large circular candies should be used for the owl's eyes with smaller black ones attached with frosting to form the pupils. A round candy on its edge could create the beak, or you may want to used a triangular-shaped sweet or even a cashew nut. Slivered almonds tend to make wonderful looking owl "feathers" when overlapped in a V pattern to define the chest area on owl cupcakes. Piping on small orange feet with icing at the bottom of the cupcake can complete the body. The sugar cookie wings and ears should be pressed in the unset chocolate background frosting to protrude from the sides and top respectively.
For making a full owl figure design on cupcakes, it's a good idea to sketch out the draft first before piping the lines with icing onto each background-frosted cupcake. A simple way to create the owl figure is to begin with an sideways hourglass shape near the top, then add an eye in each of the two spaces it creates. From the bottom edge of each hourglass section, an almond or leaf shape can form the wings. All that's basically left for this sketch is to add a triangular beak at the bottom center of the hourglass shape, two triangular ears at the top and some spindly bird feet at the bottom. You can fill in the body section with overlapping slivered almonds on the cupcakes or use some frosting as well.