Crea­ture de­sign

Brynn Metheney has used real an­i­mal ref­er­ence to com­bine char­ac­ter­is­tics to cre­ate a new crea­ture. Now she re­fines her ideas to find a fun and unique de­sign

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Issue 129 Christmas 2015 - Brynn spe­cialises in crea­ture de­sign, fan­tasy illustration and vis­ual de­vel­op­ment for film, games and pub­lish­ing. She lives and works in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia. www.bryn­

Brynn Metheney on ref­er­ence.

Part of crea­ture de­sign in­volves re­fin­ing it into some­thing unique. Some­times, just adding shapes to a sil­hou­ette can make the de­sign more ex­cit­ing. The plain shapes break up the over­all de­sign and cre­ates spa­ces for fill­ing in with more char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Us­ing vel­lum or trac­ing pa­per en­ables me to work on top of my de­sign so I don’t lose my orig­i­nal draw­ing as I de­velop my an­i­mal. In this ar­ti­cle I’ll be look­ing to crea­tures like aard­varks and newts, but you should also con­sider pre­his­toric an­i­mals such as the platy­be­lodon and other ex­tinct pro­boscideans.

I use the Col-Erase with a reg­u­lar pen­cil to seal in the de­sign. I’m us­ing a Black­wing pen­cil be­cause the heavy lead en­ables me to so­lid­ify de­tails over top of the Col-Erase. Once I like a de­sign I can even use an­other sheet of vel­lum as a clean sheet to strengthen the de­sign. It’s also a good idea to pull from groups of an­i­mals that aren’t re­lated. For ex­am­ple, I can ref­er­ence an­i­mals that are out­side of mam­malian anatomy, even though my crea­ture has a more mam­malian form. This is es­pe­cially true for colour.

My fi­nal les­son will cover pos­ing, colour and spe­cific de­tails about my crea­ture. For now, I want to push the sil­hou­ette and have a strong sur­face anatomy.

1 Try out dif­fer­ent shapes for your crea­ture

I lay vel­lum or trac­ing pa­per over my orig­i­nal draw­ing and just have some fun lightly sketch­ing in shapes over the sil­hou­ette. I keep the new shapes light so I can build up my crea­ture. In this ex­am­ple I’m pulling from an­cient ele­phants in the face and newts in the neck dewlap. So while I’m com­bin­ing ba­sic shapes, I’m also us­ing gen­eral shapes from real-life ref­er­ence.

2 Find the de­tails

Now that I’ve got some shapes laid in for gen­eral de­sign, I can be­gin to find de­tails. The over­all move­ment of the ini­tial shape can help in­form where the eyes might be or where the ears might have moved to. I’m able to change the over­all iden­tity and char­ac­ter of this crea­ture just by mov­ing fea­tures around a bit.

3 So­lid­ify the de­tails

Now I can start to pull from the ref­er­ence more. I’m look­ing to aard­varks for the feet and claws , mak­ing the crea­ture feel like more of a dig­ger/for­ager. Al­ways think about the func­tion of your crea­ture as you go. I want to make an in­ter­est­ing sil­hou­ette but I also want to make some­thing that has a rea­son for look­ing the way it does.

4 Go in with graphite

Now that’s I’ve reimag­ined my crea­ture, I can start to find the de­tails and vol­umes of the crea­ture. Black­wing pen­cils are soft so it won’t take long to build up the draw­ing. I’ve laid over an­other piece of vel­lum on top of my Col-Erase sketch so I can keep th­ese lay­ers sep­a­rate. This means I have all of my work saved, and won’t lose any lay­ers.

5 Now, try tak­ing an­other vis­ual di­rec­tion!

Don’t stop at one at­tempt; try a few dif­fer­ent ways to see your crea­ture. It’s ex­cit­ing and fun to make the ef­fort to push your de­sign in op­po­site di­rec­tions. When you start to ex­plore op­tions with your de­signs, you can ar­rive in a place that you might not have thought of be­fore. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that con­cepts like this are never set in stone and shouldn’t be treated as pre­cious. Keep ex­plor­ing your de­signs!

Shapes like squares and boxes are as­so­ci­ated with power and sta­bil­ity, while rounded shapes are friendly. Pointed shapes are more sin­is­ter. I work to find de­tails like the eye place­ment, frill shape and what the feet look like. Keep­ing the over­all shape of your crea­ture in mind will help you con­vey the kind of crea­ture or char­ac­ter you’re deal­ing with.

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