THE designs which will be used to adorn 150 fibreglass cows for the world's largest public art event in Edinburgh were unveiled today.
Local artists have created more than 230 designs which will transform the cows into unique works sculptures for the Evening News-supported Cowparade.
And tonight representatives of almost 100 businesses which have signed up to sponsor the parade will look at the plans and select their favourite designs. Some sponsors, including the Malmaison Hotel and Mercat Tours, have used their own designers to create special cow sculptures.
Others will gather tonight to view the designs at Ocean Terminal, which as a major event partner is set to become the central focus of preparations.
The shopping centre has provided secure storage space for all of the "naked" fibreglass cows, which were constructed in Poland, and will also be providing space for the artists to paint and decorate their cows, allowing them to work on the sculptures 24 hours a day.
Organisers are planning to set up a public painting area, where visitors will be able to watch progress on the models.
Major city attractions including the Scotsman Hotel and the Royal Yacht Britannia are among the businesses who have signed up to sponsor a cow.
The Edinburgh Cow Parade will see city landmarks, famous streets and public parks get their own cow decorated by celebrities, artists and local schoolchildren.
The event has already proved a major hit in cities such as New York, Chicago, London, Sydney, Prague and Barcelona.
Among the innovative designs in previous events have been a gangster cow - "Al Cowpone"- as well as a bizarre "Moodoo Doll" cow and a military-themed "Cattle of Britain" cow.
Some of the new designs include a rainforest cow, and a circus cow.
Visitors and locals are likely to be able to follow a complete cow trail around Edinburgh, to places such as Leith and Portobello, as well as Princes Street Gardens, the Meadows, The Mound and the Grassmarket.
The ten-week event is due to start in May, and afterwards most of the cows will be auctioned to raise money for the Vet Aid and OneCity Trust charities.
The Mercat Tour Company, which has been running tours of ghostly sites in Edinburgh since 1985, had their own artist Nial Smith design their cow - called 'A Night-Moo on Blair Street' - which will be painted with a fluorescent cow skeleton.
Win Brogan, head of development at Mercat Tours, said: "This is a really fun event and we were really keen to get involved, but of course we had to have a spooky cow of some kind."
Event sponsorship and marketing manager Trish Strachan said: "We were really delighted with the number and the quality of the designs we received from local artists, and now we feel we have something to suit every taste."
Fay Jameson of Ocean Terminal said: "We are delighted to be an official partner of the Edinburgh cow parade.
"There is already a strong partnership of business, community and the arts working together to promote the waterfront and our association with Cow Parade Edinburgh gives us an opportunity to showcase this."