Werewolves on the brain

Psst! Hey, you! Ya like werewolves? I sure hope so!

I’ve been thinking a lot about werewolves lately, and there’s a reason for that! Last post, I mentioned that I’m taking a break from work on Strange Company to focus on a short comic. It’s called Blythe vs. the Werewolf, and it features—you guessed it—at least one werewolf.

Grayscale sketches of Blythe Bonfils. Three portrait shots, one where he’s smoking, one where he holds up a hand glowing with magical energy, and one where he has his eyes narrowed. A full bodied sketch of him holding a cigarette in one hand, and a magical flame in the other.
(Blythe Bonfils, as he appears in BvtW)

The titular character of BvtW plays a big role in Strange Company. It takes place over a decade before Strange Company’s events, and further up north, in the primordial forests of a country called Biscar. Blythe Bonfils has established himself as a wizard and a monster hunter, but hasn’t gathered all the mystical knowledge that he has in Strange Company. But I’ll go much more into detail about the comic itself in its project spotlight post.

First, a bit of world building. Werewolves are merely a legend in Biscar. Most of the rumors of their existence surround the prominent Garoux family, nobles under the long defunct Biscaran monarchy. It was said that, long ago, select devotees of the goddess Tepith and her Saint, Hanael, would be granted the ability to take the shape of a chosen animal at will.

Two full body sketches of a wolf-headed man. The first has a tail. The second is drawn in Medieval style and stands next to two stalks of wheat
(Sketches for a wolf-headed man in a style inspired by Medieval bestiaries)

One of the ancestors of the Garoux family, Odo le Loup, transgressed against Tepith and Hanael. Hanael cursed him to a shape caught halfway between human and wolf. It’s said that his entire line was likewise cursed, though there’s been no evidence of this. Many sightings of werewolves up in the forests of Biscar and elsewhere are dismissed as misidentified animals or mischievous spirits that have adopted a wolf-like appearance. After all, regular mortals are unable to shape shift, no matter how magically inclined they are.

Older Biscaran depections of werewolves are inspired by the cynocephali, or the dog-headed men of antiquity. A tapestry appears in-comic that illustrates the Legend of Odo le Loup, and depicts him in this style.

A transformation sequence from human to wolf, across five figures: 1. human 2. longer hair, ears, and teeth 3. covered entirely in fur with claws and a tail and slightly protruding muzzle 4. Crouching with head fully taking the shape of a wolf’s 5. Wolf
(Transformation sequence sketches)

The werewolf in Blythe vs. the Werewolf is, of course, an actual werewolf, and not a cynochephalus. I had a bit of trouble deciding on the type of design that I want, though. Do I go more humanoid and scraggly, or do I really lean into the very hairy bipedal wolf look? I do know that I want them to look unsettling, and to capture a form as close to the middle point between human and wolf as possible. Hence the Animorphs cover style transformation sequence to try and figure it out.

Sketches of various werewolf facial features and stages of transformation
(Sketches testing out different facial features and body shape for the potential werewolf design)

I think my biggest takeaway from doing these sketches is that I need more practice drawing werewolves. In my initial sketches, it was much easier to make them look feline rather than lupine, so I’ll need to push the muzzle more. Ear placement will be important to really hit on what I’m going for, too.

A waist up sketch of older woman with pointed ears and curly hair dressed in a floppy hat and rancher garb. A portrait shot of the same woman.
(Werewolf-bothered farmer, Genevieve Gauthier)

Back to a few of the more humanoid characters from the comic, Blythe is hired on by a farmer whose livestock has been attacked by a creature, and nobody believes her claims that it’s the legendary werewolf.

Sketches of a dark haired woman leaning against something, a portrait shot of her smiling, and another portrait shot of her inspecting a small object. Various portrait shots of a light haired woman in uniform. She wears her hair in a tight bun. In one portrait, her hair is down and shoulder length, and her eyes are closed in a grimace
(Suse LeBruin, the game warden, and Melanie Garoux, heiress)

Blythe finds both help and hindrance from Susanne LeBruin, the local game warden, and Melanie Garoux, one of the heirs of the Garoux estate.

Anyway, this was meant to be a sketch post! As mentioned above, we’ll learn more about the characters and the comic itself in the Blythe vs. the Werewolf project spotlight post.

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