One of the thrills I get when I start a new commission is I usually discover something new about the subject. Whether it's a place, a person or an abstract that needs to reflect and speak to a specific space where it will be hung, there's always the learning aspect to it.
This time the subject was wildlife, specifically a cheetah. In my mind I roughly had an image of what one looked like. As I started to study the subject I realized I had melded a leopard and cheetah into one animal.
In the excitement of wanting to get started; I jumped in and began a sketch of what I quickly found out was a leopard (as seen below).
Research and preliminary drawings are a crucial part of the process when I'm beginning a project so all is not lost when something like this happens. Outside of making sure that the details of the subject are correct (like getting the right species!) a quick painting like this is a handy guide for determining the mood, palette and style. In this case, a more restrained color range was chosen in the end which created focus on the cheetah's lovely pattern.