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  • Writer's pictureKaren Ruffles

The scene behind the scenes.

This week, I've been looking closer at some of the monster's home territories as I build up the Barghest commission and start deciding how exactly I'm going to present the others in the next pieces. It's also, oddly, an element of working a creature out that's necessary even if it doesn't physically appear in the final picture, as is often the case with a first drawing of something where I tend to present a clear study on a plain background.

There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, habitat is a factor in how something is physically put together. It affects how something moves, what it eats, how it behaves. Just like us, monsters react to their environment, choosing favourite places to do favourite things, like Mr Thingy and his swamp, and places to avoid, like Stephen and anywhere with a window (they give him the heebies). It also contains and affects possibly the most important factor in any image- the light. Where is it coming from ? Is it direct or filtered through something ? It it lighting the subject from the front or the back?

Perfectly normal and sensible work happening here, not playing with toys and a cardboard box at all in any way. No, really, this was the set for Stephen under the bed, in which light was the subject in a sense, as the 'monster' is hiding and his form is mostly revealed by the shadow he casts. Here, the nature of the environment and how he interacts with it is causing two things to happen at once in the same image. I'd sketched this out already so the set was purpose built to get a photograph to work from - again, checking my work against practical considerations to make the whole thing as real as possible.

I took many photographs of Stephen under the bed, changing the lighting and camera angle so I could choose the most striking. Then, yes, alright, I did amuse myself for a bit...

Stephen at the end of the bed (you're welcome).

Stephen in the bed. I still like these particular shots and intend to revisit them with some pencils one day, but chose to stick with Stephen under the bed first as it was an image that I felt expressed a lot about his essential nature.

This is where we are at with the new drawings - for the Barghest I am making one last trip into the wilds next week as I remembered something else fun I could include. For Mr Thingy I am looking at a lot of under water scenes as the change of element alters many things - from how his hair moves to, again, the light. For next week's post I'll see if I can do some drawing of light for you, always a challenge when working only in black but I've found ways and means. If by the way, anyone is not already familiar with the actual Stephen Under The Bed drawing, that's over in the Nightmares section.

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