Introducing the Fordham Bengals…part one

I’m very excited to be starting my next comission as I’ve always wanted to draw these beautiful cats.
Tracey and Steve Fordham have a lovely family of Bengal cats and we met at a recent cat show.  They were keen to commission a ‘family’ portrait with all five of their cats, so Tracey got to  work collating all of their best photos and sending them on to me.
On the left is Spirit – we met at the show and apparently he is inseparable from his brother Shadow who you can see on the right here
Next is Sonnet on the left and Inca on the right and finally you can see Jasper in the shot below.
We had chatted a little about the layout at the show, but I had a little time to think about such a large piece as Tracey and Steve were off on a Med cruise.  When we caught up to plan the layout in more detail, Tracey had news!     A sweet new addition to the family – a kitten called Carminah.  So now there were 6 in the family portrait.
The next job was how to layout the composition.  Bengals are known for their highly distinctive spotted patterning.  This results from their origins – crossings between small wild cats and domestic cats.  Carminah in particular has spectacular markings and Tracey wanted to capture this in the finished piece, so she spent many hours trying to entice Carminah to look at the camera. Now if you’ve ever tried to photograph a cat that won’t look at you, you’ll know you’re on a hiding to nothing ;0)
For an artist this is where photoshop comes into its own. For portraits with several subjects it’s important that the client is able to have an idea of what the finished portrait will look like. Photoshop is great for creating mock-ups of compositions and the speed means that you can involve the client every step of the way. Tracey had two great shots of Carminah which we decided would work well.
We wanted the back shot from first picture with the head shot from the second, so with a bit of jiggery-pokery we ended up with this – a workable reference shot for me to work from.
In part 2 of this project I’ll show you how we worked on the layout to agree the final composition. 
See you soon

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