Iberian lynx: the value of the individual
Early this year we had the privilege of encountering this majestic Iberian lynx in the wilderness of southern Spain. A recent study reveals that the genetic diversity of this species is alarmingly low, something that makes each wonderful individual like this one even more valuable (you can check the study here: http://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13059-016-1090-1). It is almost a miracle that we still have the Iberian lynx with us, and it is such a shame that so many of them are killed by cars each year (see a recent news article about the latest lynx killed by a car: http://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13059-016-1090-1), not to mention those that fall victim to the ridiculous “predator controls” still practiced in many private hunting concessions in Spain. In spite of genetic problems and centuries of persecution, the Iberian lynx has shown it has what it takes to make a comeback: now it is time for the authorities to get serious about protecting each cat.
One thing you learn from trying to reconstruct fossil creatures is to value the everyday wonder of encountering living, breathing animals in their environment. Unlike the case of our reconstructions, there is so much in them that we didn’t put in there! Portraying the individual is something that is usually beyond the scope of paleontological illustration, because fossils only tell us so much about the variation and subtleties of physiognomy. If only by contrast, that makes it even more enjoyable to be able to portray living, unrepeatable creatures like this male Iberian lynx in his prime.
At this stage, I concentrate on the shading in order to create volume and depth, but I already block in some of the spot patterns of the face. The animal’s shadow on the ground contributes to create the feeling of perspective
I continue adding spots, but as I advance with this process some of the shadows I defined at the beginning are now looking almost too subtle by contrast with the more marked spots,so now I have to deepen them in order to keep the balance between light and dark