A little job came up that took me away from continuing with the crescent splitfin fish illustration these last couple of weeks. Took me away from my 'to do' list of illustrations completely, in fact; even though that list has continued to grow.
A request came in for a series of silhouettes of some mammal species for a specific project happening soon at the Wild Place Project.
Originally they had silhouttes sourced from something like clip art.. one or two of them were pretty bad and all of them seemed 'lifeless' in staid poses. I was to draw up these silhouettes to life size for them to be produced as wooden 'cut outs' which will then be placed along a trail to illustrate a timeline of some of the animals which have gone extinct in the UK as the forests and woodlands were lost over the centuries.
I suggested that the poses could be more interesting. So I was given six species - Auroch, European wolverine, European Lynx, European brown bear, wild boar and gray wolf, with which to show 'better' poses for the silhouettes.
I did internet searches on images for each of these species to get a collection of stances that might be useful to use either as they were or adapted to suit the needs of the job. From these images I did some roughs of different poses - wanting to have something other than straight boring profiles I was looking for something natural and 'lively', if I could.
The first animal, the auroch, is extinct so I was having to rely on other people's drawn images and photo's of skeletons of this large bovine. Luckily I only needed one pose for this huge animal, as I did also for the wolverine. The lynx and bear needed two poses, the wild boar three and the wolf four. I can't explain too much about why, or other details, until the 'project' is done.
However here are my roughs....
They were met by approval so the go ahead was given to proceed.
So I went up to Wild Place, where they will be placed to look at the stretch of track the silhouettes will be placed along in four different spots. I stood for some time imagining which of the poses would look best in each location and photographed the length of the track so that I could piece them together to 'reform' the walk.
Then back in the studio I looked at the images again along with the animal drawings and refined the choices to suit the habitat, using bushes and trees etc so that the cut outs will 'interact' with the landscape rather than just being plonked in a clearing.
Eventually the silhouettes will be drawn, life-size, onto wooden panels and cut out by the Maintenance Dept.... so I had to work out the animal measurements, using average body length and shoulder heights, and scale them onto a piece of graph paper.
Using the same scale I drew a number of shapes to represent the wooden panels that would measure 8 foot by 4 foot. I then had the puzzle of working out how many wooden panels were needed, keeping the number as low as possible. To do this I had to juggle the silhouettes around to keep the number of boards to as few as possible, but also limiting the number of instances where a silhouette crossed over two panels. Having a silhouette cut from one single sheet of wood is stronger and less work for all, so was much more preferable. For auroch there was no getting away with having to use three panels... they were huge cattle and apart from the brown bear reaching up the tree trunk, I managed to fit everything else so that it used one piece of wood. The final tally was a total of 8 panels.
Now we wait for a quote on FSC marine ply 9mm panels and, if approved to purchase, when they come in, I have the job of scaling my silhouettes up onto the panels.