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August 13, 2012
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Thistle-chaser by bonefish Thistle-chaser by bonefish
The endless march of waves breaking on the shore drew and held her gaze. The roar and boom of the surf and the salt spray blowing into her face seemed to dash away some of the confusion that lay like a gray mist over her mind. Frothy water slithered up the beach and spilled onto her toes, drawing the sand from under her pads as it retreated.

- excerpt from Ratha and Thistle-Chaser by Clare Bell

----

This illustration came into existence in sketch form on my computer sometime in 2010, and I've worked on it in spurts since then, constantly revamping, tweaking, and changing things each time I revisited it. It was originally meant to be much simpler in execution but ended up as an artistic adventure: it was an experiment in digital painting, background painting, techniques, use of layers, lighting, and realistic detail. This is the first full painting I've ever done in PS Elements. I would do things differently if I had to do it all over again, but it was a good learning experience.

That being said, I have no desire paint tortoiseshell fur again anytime in the near future.

Newt/Thistle-chaser's colors and markings were based off of the descriptions given in the book, and I used reference photos of cheetahs, leopards, and cougars for her facial structure.

Download to see a higher resolution version suitable for desktop use.

Made in
Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0

I used several of redheadstock's texture brushes in this painting. If you are interested in custom brush sets that are compatible with Elements, check hers out.
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:iconrathacat:
rathacat Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
With all the wonderful art in the Ratha's Challenge, I missed this, and I'm very glad I found it today. Her eyes are haunting and her gaze diffuse, just the way I described it.  Striking and lovely.  
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:iconbonefish:
bonefish Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm incredibly flattered to receive feedback from the author herself! Wow, thank you. :) I'm glad that Thistle's haunting, diffuse gaze comes across in my painting, since it was a part of her description that rooted itself particularly vividly in my imagination. Thistle-chaser is a character I can identify with in several ways, and I enjoyed the challenge of translating my mental image of her into a real image.
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:iconbiggs2:
biggs2 Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Love it! reminds me of the khajit cats in the game skyrim.(the face does) But beautiful job!
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:iconbonefish:
bonefish Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you, glad you like it. I'm only vaguely familiar with Skyrim but I think I've heard of the khajit cats. I'll have to look 'em up!
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:iconthegirlcalledratha:
thegirlcalledratha Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2013  Professional Photographer
I can't get over how beautiful this is.
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:iconbonefish:
bonefish Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you :)
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:iconchristianonfire7:
Christianonfire7 Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Beautiful. <3
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:iconbonefish:
bonefish Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you :)
Reply
:icongraphiteforlunch:
graphiteforlunch Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2012  Hobbyist
Gah, I *love* this! Beautiful job! Deserves thousands of favorites!
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:iconbonefish:
bonefish Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you like it, and thank you!
Reply
:iconviergacht:
Viergacht Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
Lovely!
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:iconbonefish:
bonefish Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
:iconsheilaruth:
SheilaRuth Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2012
Oh, my. You've really captured her. Love the expression in her eyes.
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:iconbonefish:
bonefish Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks. I'm glad you find her eyes expressive - I was definitely aiming for the distant, unfocused gaze described in the book.
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:iconsheilaruth:
SheilaRuth Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2012
I think you did a great job of capturing it.
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:iconunicornreality:
UnicornReality Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Beautiful!
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:iconbonefish:
bonefish Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
:iconperxio:
Perxio Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2012   Digital Artist
Oh man, I love seeing incredible art for these books, this is so wonderful and spot-on...I love that you got the finer details of her design that are rather easy to forget, like the little lighter spot at the corners of her lips and the little blaze on her nose. I'm so impressed this had been an experiment when this was the outcome. I've used PS Elements for years and still couldn't pull this off.
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:iconbonefish:
bonefish Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you, and I'm glad you noticed and enjoyed the little details. When I was younger I would always be annoyed when a book's cover art didn't jive with the author's descriptions, so nowadays whenever I attempt any kind of story illustration, I always pay close attention to the information the author provides and try to illustrate according to those descriptions. I'm a sucker for detail.

It took a long time to figure out which brushes worked best, but overall I'm impressed by how versatile PS Elements can be as a digital painting program. The basic airbrush hard round + judicious use of layers worked pretty well, and there are a few custom brush sets floating around online that are compatible with Elements too. *redheadstock's texture sets come to mind.
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:iconcrazycrocuta:
CrazyCrocuta Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Beautiful! :D I always saw her this way, except with a little orange thrown in.
Reply
:iconbonefish:
bonefish Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! She had a bit more orange in her fur in some of the early passes of this painting, but I ended up toning it down to match the muted background.
Reply
:iconechobrooke-the-cat:
Echobrooke-the-Cat Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2012
That is soooo Beautiful!!
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:iconbonefish:
bonefish Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
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