Fantasy creature design is essentially breaking down real animal forms and combining them to make something new,
Brynn Metheney on animals.
Creature design is built on the foundation of understanding real-life animals. Even when we design fantastical creatures like dragons or demons, pulling from nature can help make it more believable.
First, I explore the animals themselves. Drawing each species helps me get to know their anatomy. I take note of certain traits, proportions, markings and shapes as I draw. Then I find a shape inspired by one of the animals, which acts as a foundation for where I’d like to go. I use a harder pencil lead to keep things light and workable. I’m only concerned with getting down big shapes, like the shape of the head and general body and tail.
Studying how certain animals carry themselves will help you pose your creature. I’m looking to the tapir and spiny tailed lizard. I find a stance between these two animals and tweak it to make sure it looks natural. I sketch out the rest of the animal to find the landmarks, such as the shoulders, knees and the rib cage, using boxes and planar shapes to help flesh out the creature.
Now I add detail and other shapes, looking at the secretary bird. Claws, spikes, scales, fur and feathers help to flesh out its silhouette. It’s important to make it iconic. Having too much detail or “stuff” happening on your creature could dilute the effectiveness of your design. Brynn specialises in creature design, fantasy illustration and visual development. www.brynnart.com