Step 1: Study nature. This is a plain coated cat, but that doesn’t mean it has to be one boring solid color.
The species I am focusing on is from a wonderful book I recently discovered, Ratha’s Creature, by Clare Bell. She has a dA account and the first chapter can be found here:
Ratha's Creature, Ch1Ratha's Creature by Clare Bell Chapter One Ratha leaped over a fern thicket and dug her paws into the spongy ground as she dodged sharp horns. One prong sifted through her fur and she skittered away from the beast. She turned and stood her ground with hunched shoulders and twitching tail. Her quarry advanced. A two-pronged horn on the stag's nose joined the crown of points on the head and it lowered the entire array, charging at Ratha. She launched herself at the deer, both front paws spread. She landed on her rear paws and bounced sideways as the multi
The art in her gallery is definitely more cheetah-like, and I will admit to being biased toward the raw power of lions over the grace of cheetahs. She has stated that she doesn’t mind alternate designs, so I figured I would at least explain why I saw it this way in my mind.
Female Named is too slim in the waist. That will be fixed when it is time to do individual and detailed character designs.
Facial proportions are all wonky. I did all the coloring by mouse, which is way harder than making the lines traditionally and scanning them. The main focus was establishing a unique profile and deciding on color, so it should look much nicer when I get to individual characters.
Apologies if anything is really off the mark. I haven’t made it past the first book yet.
I really loved this when I saw it. Leonca did such a lovely job showing the Named as an example of designing a fantasy species. People have asked why the Named have so many color variations in their small group.
Since they are former hunters turned herders, the need for a concealing coat is no longer needed. In order to manage their herd animals, (dapplebacks, threehorns, and attempts to include others, such as elephant-like creatures and the seamares (based on the desmostylian Paleoparadoxia) the sapient Named actually need to be seen, so they can drive or lead their herds . An invisible herder doesn't work! If the herd animals don't see you, they will ignore you. Yes, the creatures probably can scent the cats, but they are used to smelling their Named protectors .
Another reason that Named fur colors vary is the fact that Ratha's kind have sentience equivalent ( but NOT the same) as humans, and they value individuality and identity. As they became more intelligent and self-aware, they helped any odd colored offspring survive, since the cub would be a more effective herder. In contrast, among the UnNamed hunters, non-standard coloration would be a handicap, and the cub would usually die before breeding.
There is actually one more color phase among the Named which is a variant of the melanistic solid black.
Night-who-eats-stars got his name because his pelt has occasional white hairs that seem to sparkle, then disappear amid the black. Night is based on the "ghost panther" (leopard), which is a sold black when young, but starts showing scattered white hairs which accumulate. As the animal ages, more of the white hairs accumulate until the pelt becomes increasingly speckled, then white patches start to replace the black, until the animal becomes white, speckled with black. Ultimately in old age, individual becomes gray, and if it lives long enough, white.
I actually had a young black cat that started to get white flecks in his pelt, and might have developed into miniature version of the ghost panther. Unfortunately he ran away, so I couldn't watch him grow up.
Some of the Named fanart in my favorites depicts Night-who-eats-stars