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(I'm pleased to tell you that the team completed all the character reference sheets and sent them to Sheila. She'll be making high-quality Giclee prints for Kickstarter backers. The early onset of fire season in Colorado due to the Western drought has slowed progress, since one of our artists is also a firefighter there. The recent Heartbleed Internet scare also cost us another two weeks of lost time, but we are back on track now.) 

Once we designed the Named and UnNamed cats, we turned to their threehorn "deer" and dappleback horses. I had based my original dappleback conception on paintings of Eohippus, however Eo was far too ancent (Eocene), and far too tiny. Not only that, but Eo is no longer considered a horse, having been recently re-classified as a paleothere.

When I wrote Ratha's Courage, I based the dappleback horse on the pony-sized Parahippus of the Miocene, which fit better with the Named cats, who are a bit larger than cheetahs.

  Artist Lew Lashmit based his lovely concept painting on later horses Miohippus and Merychippus, adding primitive and bay horse coloring, deer-like dappling, and a horse-y tail. 
MioMertyhumbnail Lashmit by rathacat

Mio and Mery were more Oligocene than Miocene, and the size of a Shetland pony, which was too small. I suggested Parahippus, and put up some images of its skeleton and two artists' reconstructions; one chunky and one slender (which i preferred). I suggested that it would be easy to modify his painting of Mio/Mery, into Para.

Parahippus Copy by rathacat

Parahippus leonensis fossil skeleton mount photo from Wikipedia

Parahippus Robust by rathacat

A robust (chunky) interpretation of Parahippus, possibly by Zdenek Burian (1950's?). Image

from Wikipedia

220px-Parahippus gracile by rathacat

 A gracile (slender) interpretation of Parahippus. Jay Matternes from his 1964 Smithsonian mural. Photo: Wikipedia

I liked the gracile version better, probably because I drew long-legged slender unicorns when I was younger. 

Tod Wills then did a quicky sketch of the dappleback based on Lew's concept and our suggestions.

parahip Tod by rathacat

He also mixed gracile and robust features in his drawing. Dani Long did her version of the dappleback based on his, including three striking color variations.

Parahipdapplebackmix Dani by rathacat

She also included a uncolored dappleback image to Tod so he could play with it.

Dani also pointed out that some Parahippus visual references were actually mislabeled images of the slender forest browsing Kalobatippus. She did a turnaround of her Parahippus, which she sent to Tod for coloring. He then worked his watercolor magic,
Parahipdappleback Tod by rathacat

and we had the critter!

Next: Thrashing Threehorns
Add a Comment:
Lyrak Featured By Owner May 16, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I like to see how the process goes. It's really neat. :) Also love how the dapplebacks turned out.
YourClosetNinja Featured By Owner May 8, 2014  Student General Artist
i love seeing the books come to life through these updates!
i'm beginning to study illustration myself this fall, this is quite inspiring! exactly the sort of work i would like to be apart of one day! :aww:
Fyrepyromaniac Featured By Owner May 8, 2014
Cool! I like having some visuals to help me picture the Dapplebacks- part of the reason I'm so excited for the graphic novel.
SheilaRuth Featured By Owner May 8, 2014
Great update, Clare. Thanks for writing and posting it! I have an appointment Monday with the local graphic arts company that will be doing the scanning and Giclee prints. I'll keep everyone posted, and as we get closer to having them ready I'll send out Kickstarter surveys to the backers at those levels.
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