Last year as I was touring local fairs, Mili Fay Art had a Horsing Around contest. Everyone who visited our booth were invited to submit an idea for a future story and art print. I chose the idea I liked best, and the winner won the story and the art print to come.
I did not anticipate the hurdles that would come my way in 2015. Needless to say, I have still not finished that prize, but thankfully the contestant that won is a wonderful person and she does not hold it against me.
A few weeks ago I wrote the story of a filly named Zoé and how she met her best friend, the bunny Mannon. Currently I’m working on designing the limited edition art print.
As you can see in my sketches, my drawing are always very rough. It is at this stage that I’m considering who is this character. I wanted Zoé to be an Arabian filly, and therefore she had to be different from the North American horses that populate the Horsing Around Ranch. Though I write the story of these horses, I have to confess that I am not a horse person. I have never lived with a horse in my life, and I have only glimpsed them occasionally throughout my life. The most I know about the life on a ranch is what I have observed watching Heartland (amazing show, if you have not seen it you should). Nevertheless, I have always found horses beautiful, and when I was tasked with creating a series of original stories involving animals, horses were my first choice. I wrote all this because if you are a horse person and you see me writing nonsense, please feel free to correct my mistakes.
On Google I have learned that Arabian horses are fleeter of foot, have a lots of stamina, and look more delicate than the North American horses. Arabian’s nostrils are larger (so they could get more oxygen), their heads and muzzles are smaller, and their necks are bent into a gentle C curve.
Due to the staples of the Horsing Around design universe, I cannot give Zoé a C curved neck, but I did try to stick to the other points. While designing her, I kept thinking of Disney’s Jasmine. Arabian Nights was playing around in my head as I sketched. I also looked up “Arabian hair designs” on Pinterest. In the sketch above you can see me trying some of them out. However, I soon found that the hair designs did not look right. In the end, Zoé ended up with longer legs, smaller muzzle and hooves, tilted eyes, and long wavy mane and tail.
Initially I wanted Zoé to be white. However, I already have a white filly in my Horsing Around universe; Bella is a Lipizzaner, beautiful and very proud. Zoé will just have to be black. Somehow, I cannot see her any other colour.
Mannon will be a pure white bunny. I tried colouring his ears and giving him a few patches here and there (in the above sketch you can see one on his back), however in the end I wanted him to be white and fluffy like a cotton ball. In my first sketches (which you will never see because they are just awful) I designed Mannon as a regular bunny. I tried to make that design work, but it did not feel right. Then, “ZING!”, an image of a brown bunny from one of the Telus commercials popped into my head, and I gave him floppy ears. As soon as I did that, Mannon the character came to life. Mannon also has a tiny body and enormous paws.
The art print will show Zoé and Mannon jumping over a hedge (they both love jumping) and I want them to be doing so at night with a moonless sky full of stars as their background. The drawing above was sketched on my Cintiq Companion. There were maybe 4 or 5 drawings that I created first, but what I love about digital sketching is that I can make changes very quickly. I am happy with this layout. What do you think?
If you cannot read the squiggles as well as I, Zoé and Mannon are jumping over a natural hedge (it is only rectangular in the picture to help me determine the perspective). The squiggle on the right is a rose bush, the smaller squiggle on the left is also a rose bush, just a tiny one. As you can see, Zoé will also be wearing a jeweled harness. I’m thinking lapis lazuli maybe? The harness wraps around her neck like a necklace and extends to wrap around her “waist”. I’ll have to do some research on Arabian/Arabic jewelry.
How will I make the dark coloured Zoé stand out from the dark sky is something we will find out together.
My next step is to print out this sketch, so that I can clean it up.
And here is the final image:
P.S. If you have any questions about anything I’m up to feel free to contact me, or comment below. I’ll answer in a future post.
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Mili Fay, a Toronto-based artist, classical animator, illustrator, writer, and singer, is an award winning graduate of Sheridan College and Art Instruction Schools. In November of 2011 she created Mili Fay Art determined to support the world one artwork at a time.
Her latest published work is Animals In My Hair; a story about a boy who goes for his first haircut only to find endangered animals falling out of his hair.
Currently, Mili is working on her first ever illustrated Fantasy novel, Warriors of Virtue, about a reluctant princess who must prevent a war with the dragon-people, while keeping her mission a secret from her over-protective mother.
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