Drawing

Cavalry From Above


One of the stylistic themes that I want to have run through The Chasseurs is the overall confusion and chaos of war, and, in particular, of the battlefields where they travel. I envision a number of random shots of cavalry troops, from any and all of the different sides, blinding running around, trampling things, and accomplishing nothing.

The two sketches above are roughly drawn to show the mounted cavalry from overhead, traveling two abreast, and running through the various scenes. They appear, and disappear, within moments. They are important, and cannot be bothered to stop and see what's what.

I tried to do some research on how to adequately draw this, but I ran into a number of roadblocks. Here, you see the riders with the round, flat hats:


What's missing is a drawing guide. I found these after I did the two sketches above:



And, they're helpful, but not as much as an overhead photo would be. I'm not getting the details correct.

Anyway, I like that as a theme, and I'll drop that in when I can.

More on the Battle of Ligny


The Battle of Ligny was the battle that the French Army won en route to Waterloo. It must have been doubly cruel to have survived Ligny and to have been carried forward to the dashed hopes of Waterloo.
Napoleon won his final victory on June 16th, 1815 at Ligny, shortly before suffering a crushing defeat at Waterloo. Facing two enemy armies – Wellington’s Anglo-Allied and Bluecher’s Prussian – he aimed his main attack against Bluecher at Ligny and diverted Wellington’s attention by engaging his forward elements at Quatre Bras. The Eagle’s Last Triumph is the single most comprehensive examination of this vital aspect of the 1815 campaign available in English. Having put the battle at Ligny into perspective, the author provides a clear account of the action in detail, including much eye-witness testimony. The complex story of Wellington and Bluecher’s cooperation throughout the struggle against the French is revealed, with new light on Wellington’s promises of prompt aid to the Prussians in the early stages of the campaign – promises which he failed to keep. The reasons for General d’Erlon’s failure to support the French forces at either Ligny or Quatre Bras are traced, and how the main culprits in the fiasco later sought to cover up their responsibility. The Eagle’s Last Triumph is a vivid military epic, providing a cogent and lucid explanation of why Napoleon, victorious at Ligny, met with utter defeat just two days later at Waterloo.
Here's a modern map of the area around Ligny (I'd love to go there this summer, but I don't think it will happen).



I've been in the formative phase of The Chasseurs for just about long enough. I have let the story sort of build up in my mind and now the pieces are mostly in place. Ligny will be part of it, so I've been getting things organized along a sequence of events.

I also have a few photos of reenactors and things like that:






UPDATE: My plan was to work up some stuff before the 13th of June, and that just didn't happen. I apologize. I have such real affection for this project, and I'm still putting together so many different ideas. It just hasn't gotten to the point yet where I can get this down in words and all that.

Character Development Sketches





I have four baseline sketches for the four main dog characters--Ecarlet, Bretagne, Brom and Belge. These are the four breeds I chose last year, and, so far, I haven't seen anything that would convince me to make a change. These four breeds of dog were present during the Napoleonic Wars.

Future sketches will give them a little more of a three-dimensional look, and maybe be a little more "cartoony" or "animation-y." Or they'll just be amateurish. I'm hoping for acceptable.

Storyboard Development for The Chasseurs


Time to start storyboards and story detail.

The opening shot will be on the character Ecarlet (the red poodle). He is the eldest of the four dogs and serves as their leader.

Their life before Waterloo is based on being in that "post-war" mode where everything is wrecked, but just beginning to return to some sort of normalcy. They are scouring the countryside, practicing how they will look for and identify the wounded (which was their job in the French Army, until the Battle of Nations at Leipzig).

At a distance, the French countryside should appear lush and beautiful, but, up close, ruined and ravaged and abandoned and destitute.

The Flying Ambulance



This will play a critical role in organizing and moving the story.

The Chasseurs "hunt" for wounded soldiers and help the old French surgeon find them and care for them. Often, a chasseur dog will guide the litter crews from the battlefield to the flying ambulance.

Some background:

Emergency medicine has deep military roots. In 1792, the young French surgeon Dominique-Jean Larrey observed that most injured soldiers died for want of immediate attention. Inspired by horse-drawn "flying artillery" he developed a "flying ambulance." This ambulance volante combined with Larrey’s development of the concept of triage became integral to Napoleon’s army.
At full strength, the ambulance corps included 340 men, in 3 divisions, each with 12 light and four heavy carriages. A first class surgeon-major commanded a contingent that included apothecaries, a farrier, a saddler, a bootmaker, "a bearer of surgical instruments with a trumpet" and "a lad with a drum carrying surgical dressings." Few changes were made to his ambulance design until the motorized era.
During the 1799 battle for Aboukir in Egypt, Larrey reported that "none were left more than a quarter of an hour without being dressed." Larrey was also a gifted physician who performed the first successful leg amputation at the hip. This superb care helped troop morale, and even moved the enemy: at Waterloo the Duke of Wellington adjusted his line of fire to let the ambulances work.
SOURCE: "The Revolutionary Flying Ambulance of Napoleon's Surgeon," by CPT Jose M. Ortiz, U.S. Army Medical Department Journal, October-December 1998

The Chasseurs is Getting Underway


Organizing this project has happened in my mind, and not on paper. I have to put an end to that way of doing things and be more transparent.

This is where I will blog about the conception of the project, and try not to hold too much back.

The Chasseurs is a story about how four dogs, abandoned by their owners after the fall of Napoleon, have lived for about a year in northern France. When Napoleon leaves Elba, and when war is apparent, these four dogs have to figure out whether or not they will return to their units (they are trained dogs, used in various French Army regiments). The story culminates with being swept up into the Battle of Waterloo.

This is a decidedly anti-war project. The use of the dogs, of animation, and of this particular kind of story telling, is designed to highlight some universal truths. The people have been living in wretched conditions in a country wrecked by war, and war itself is no promise of riches or glory. The dogs are abandoned, but they stay together and survive. They have to say goodbye to their sweethearts and march away, just like the men, when they realize that they have no choice. They have to find a way back into the society of men after living under a fallen apple tree in an old, wrecked orchard. They have to survive the return of war to a devastated part of Europe.

I want it to be acceptable on many levels. I want the message to get through, but I want it to be full of action and humor. I want it to be difficult, but not too difficult. I want it to be good, and that's all I'm going to strive for. Good.

As to the history, well, I'm going to have to sort that out over the next few months.