• Karen Ruffles

Unleash the beast !

Not that I think anyone has ever succeeded in getting a lead on the Barghest and I wouldn't like to say what would happen to anyone if they tried it. Anyway, I think I've got my final layout for the latest commission about ready to go.



This time, our local black dog is out on the North Yorkshire moors, which has given me lots of scope for including local plant life and rock formations typical of the area. As with the cover for Tales in Sombre Tones which also featured my fanged friend, I'm having the spectral hound fade out from very solid teeth and claws at the business end to a shadowy, barely there form that's echoed in the background scenery. A thistle in the foreground becomes a back leg, the coarse hairs on his neck and back blend into a windswept hedge oak on a ridge that sweeps down his tail into the valley below.



It probably doesn't look like a lot right now but because charcoal is impossible to erase completely, I start with as few marks as possible on the paper and work from reference photos and sketches I've prepared as I go. The picture beyond that will fade out into another ridge and clouds - the lump on the furthest ridge is one of the Bridestones I visited recently, this is what it looks like up close :) I'll be adding more rocks and so on in the final piece but that one is such an iconic shape it's a handy reminder of what I'm meant to be putting there. Layout drawings aren't always that fancy either, for your amusement, below is one of the book illustrations with the notebook reference I started with ...



When I get the official thumbs up from the client I'll be transferring the Barghest to some alarmingly expensive paper so I can crack on. At that stage I'll be taking regular progress photos and videoing some of the most interesting sections as I work. Oh, which reminds me - a couple of weeks ago I'd said I'd be doing some drawing video for you - I skipped last week as was terribly brave and went for my eye test, which meant staying off the computer and away from fiddly drawing for a bit to let my eyes rest. I'm relieved to say my eyes are fine asides from the sad fact of not being twenty any more and some glasses are being made up as we speak so I can see what I'm doing for more than ten minutes at a time. The nice lady made a point of giving me a prescription that would allow the very fine detail I love so expect a lot of moonlit cobwebs and hairs on plant stems while I get very excited about that for a bit :)

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Whitby, North Yorkshire

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