The Hounds of the Morrigan," by Pat O'Shea. It's quite a wonderful children's fantasy based on Celtic mythology and has two very likable protagonists, 10 year-old Pidge and his 5 year-old sister Brigit. In this scene, the children, who are being pursued by the hounds belonging to the Morrigan, the Goddess of Battle and Destruction, meet the friendly spider Mawleogs who aids them in their journey to find the blood-stained pebble that is needed to stop the evil queen from regaining her full powers.
I originally envisioned depicting this scene from behind the children, looking over their shoulders so that the viewer could get a good look at Mawleogs. But with this layout, the spider would need to be further back in the scene and he would end up being so small, that most of his facial detail would be lost and therefore the scene would lose some of its impact. I did do a sketch of it though, which you can see below. Below it, is a close-up sketch of the spider, Mawleogs. He is described in the story as wearing a shirt with a ruffled neck and cuffs, black knee britches, knitted stockings, buckled hornpipe shoes, and a little hard hat.
In this part of the story, which takes place in Ireland, the children have crossed over into Tír-na-nÓg (the otherworld or Fairy land) so I'm guessing that the hard hat that Mawleogs was wearing might not be what we think of as a hard hat. Considering that he's described as a gentleman, I pictured the hat more like the type that you might see a leprechaun wearing. I had to dig for some reference to find out what a hornpipe shoe was.
After I decided to show the children from the front, and Mawleogs from the back, I came up with this sketch. After spending quite a bit of time working on this composition, I still wasn't happy with it. The children looked too stiff and I felt the layout lacked interest. It was too straight-forward and it was not matching the vision I had in my head of how I wanted this to look.
So, I revamped it one more time. This time I decided to tilt the scene a bit and show it from slightly above, as if you were up in the tree with Mawleogs, looking down on the children.
To help me in the perspective and the shading of the scene, I set up two figures in Poser, which you can see to the right. As far as using Poser, I only know the basics. I don't use it as often as I use to, but it still comes in handy once in a while to help with a tricky perspective. Below, is the final pencil sketch that I worked from, based on this new viewpoint. I feel this layout works much better and gives the scene some dynamic visual interest and movement.
One of my favorite children's book illustrators is Erik Blegvad (who I've written about before in this blog) who has illustrated many wonderful books using pen and ink. While drawing the children in my illustration and doing the cross-hatching, I constantly referred to some of his illustrations, in particular some that he did for the Mary Norton book "Bed-knob and Broomstick."