Sculpted feathers

Hello everyone, i’ve been working on a owl model for the past week and have been experimenting with different aproaches to feathers, I figured i’d go for a sculpted look, sort of like this (ignore the placeholder wing feathers)

where I made a basic shape and duplicated a hundred times.
I tried it again with more detailed feathers with a less satisfactory result but still not too bad
Needless to say this takes forever and doing it by hand is a pain, i’m having a hard time getting each feather to follow the mesh not to mention what may happen should I try to animate the owl itself, I tried using hair particles to repeat the feather objects but they didn’t work the way I wanted and sculpting would be an option if I had the time (which I don’t). So basically my question is… is there a better way of doing this?

i was going to say partical system as hair but thin you said youv always tryd it,
but if i was the one who is working on this ,i would try the partical system,as hair , coomb it to fit the body,add some childrens and thin change the render hair to the feather model i did !!!