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By rath8325 - Posted on 27 May 2009

Dinaelurus crassus became my new armature on which to re-build the Named. And build them, I literally did. "Big Cats" artist Mauricio Anton, when he learned about my project, kindly sent me drawings from the original Eaton (1926) paper about the fossil.

From those drawings, I built a 3-D model of the fossil skull, with the idea that I could generate my fictional species from D. crassus. A second clay model skull featured an expanded braincase to house the human-equivalent intelligence of the Named, and I now had the skull of Dinaelurus illumina sapiens, Ratha herself.

Photographing each step of the process, I did a facial reconstruction, using Anton's "Big Cats" illustrations as a guide. I began with the second clay skull, added deep muscles, eyes, overlying muscles, tendons, veins, and finally skin and a slight suggestion of fur. Having photographed the bare clay bust, I then used Photoshop to add color and fur texture.

The completed head needed a body. Existing fossils of Dinaelurus crassis have only the skull and neck vertebrae, so I would have to make an educated guess. Using drawings of cheetah and puma skeletons, I put my character together on paper.

For a speedy cat with good jumping abilities and the strength to pull down prey, I used a stretched version of the puma skeleton and gave it the rear legs of the cheetah. Once I had the skeleton, I could sketch in muscles and skin.

Another tool to visualize the Named was 3-D animation, done with Anim8tor. I had great fun putting together a Ratha model, which I could then animate. Using photos of lions, cougars and cheetahs galloping, I did a run cycle. First I had her galloping in place, then crossing the screen, then bounding in from the background in a feline grand jete'.

I settled into a steady schedule; the morning and early afternoon were for writing and story development; the late afternoon for chores, exercise and art/animation.

Early in the novel's development came a crucial question; should I continue the story of True-of-Voice and the Song-hearing(collectively dreaming group-think) face-tail hunters from Ratha's Challenge? Some readers thought that plot line; wandered too far away from the spirit of the series; others thought it enhanced the saga and wanted to know more about True-of-voice and his people. I decided that the face-tail hunters had to be in Courage, but I would focus on the effects they had on the Named and not stray off too far into the mysticism of the Song.


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Join other Named Series fans on the Ratha Series Forum.  Hunt up information in the Fire Den, read the new Twitter creation, "Ratha's Island", or strut before the clan to introduce yourself in the Fire Dance.

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