A festive nativity scene depicting Mary and Joseph, three wise men, three shepherds, an ox, donkey, lamb and twelve little drummer boys (a.k.a. twelve drummers drumming) gathered in the manger to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

I really didn’t know what to draw for this one up until a couple of weeks ago. I was tempted to draw twelve guys on an oil rig working with barrels (a.k.a. drums) of oil. Then I thought about having a gardening scene with twelve people growing plants in 24 gallon drum shells. Finally, I began thinking about The Little Drummer Boy Christmas carol and just multiplied the number of drummers. Why not have twelve little drummer boys? I also liked the idea of doing a nativity scene and getting back to the true meaning of and reason for Christmas.

I had been putting this one off because of the number of characters to be drawn. I wasn’t looking forward to drawing twelve drummers, but once I started, I realised I would also need Jesus, Mary & Joseph, some shepherds, some wise men and perhaps some animals. Going with an ox, lamb and donkey, there ended up being a total of 24 characters, so it became rather crowded.

Not knowing how to handle the lighting for this one, I consulted a friend who suggested having a beam of light coming down from the star into the manger. Originally I was thinking flickering candles / lanterns on the walls, but I really liked this idea. Some may ask how it is that light from a star is shining through the roof of the manger. I wondered this as well, but then realised that a divine star can probably bypass all physics and logic to behave in any predetermined manner.

Obviously, I’m not saying this is an historically accurate depiction of the nativity scene. I know that the wise men arrived an undetermined time later and probably never even went to the manger. This is more or less my interpretation of the Biblical account, mixed with carol imagery and a little creative licence. I’m fairly sure there weren’t twelve drummers drumming there, let alone one. Also, it’s a probably unlikely that a sheep would be there playing the triangle.

Ultimately, it’s a drawing of a celebration of the birth of Christ.

The shadows are all over the place in this one and not accurate either. I thought about modelling everything with 3D software and using cameras and lamps to determine where the shadows should fall, but then realised that a couple of Christmases may have passed before it was completed.