Generally, animals aren't 'ideas'. I usually have a documentary playing while I'm working on my jewellery, and I only have three kinds: animals, people and geology. Which I suppose means mostly Attenborough and Iain Stewart with other BBC Earth documentaries in between. And so, for that reason, I'm exposed to a lot of images of animals and nature every single day. I even play them, sometimes, while writing my book, especially ones about people and cultures if it's relevant. For example, I was just writing about a desert tribe, so Tribal Eye, Planet Earth, Human Planet and Wild Arabia has been gracing my screen frequently, and when I was working on The Archguardians of Laceria, I watched a lot of Planet Earth, Wild China and The Lost Land collection. I decide upon an animal, really, because it's charmed me for one reason or another. Perhaps I learned something about them, or maybe noticed something about them that I'd never noticed before, even if I've seen them in several documentaries a hundred times each. Or, of course, if it's requested by commission.
For example, the reason I'm working on hyenas right now is because of a segment in Natural Curiosities and a few things noted that Pliny the Elder said, such as believing the hyena could switch its gender, being female one year and then male the next. But then, he also believed hedgehogs used their spines to roll on apples and carry them back to their dens...
I gather my images through this amazing wildlife book and through the internet. But I do most of my work away from computers, so I generally use images saved onto a memory stick that I plug into my laptop, which I never connect to the internet because I do my writing on it and I get super paranoid about theft. That also means that, come 7pm, I am away from the internet until 7am the following morning, and so if it's a spontaneous decision, I rely more on books for images.
I always gather an image of the front of the animal, the side of the animal, the top of the animal and the back. Even if it's obvious. Who doesn't know what a certain animal - any animal - looks like? It turns out, no one does until they sit down and try to draw or sculpt one, unless they work with the animal every day. And I am not a zoo keeper! Though I have had many different animals as pets.
Next Up: Sculpting
And don't forget about my final Christmas order dates for domestic and international purchases!