How do I paint the pelt of a fan­tasy beast hang­ing on a wall?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - ImagineNation -

Regis Sin­clair, Canada

An­swer

Dave replies

Cre­at­ing a pelt for a fan­tasy an­i­mal is a great ex­er­cise for the imag­i­na­tion, and the main thing to con­sider with this ar­ti­cle is that ei­ther the over­all shape should be rea­son­ably fa­mil­iar and recog­nis­able, or the tex­ture and pat­tern­ing should be. If both aspects are too strange and un­usual, the viewer may not read the ob­ject as a an­i­mal pelt.

Even a made-up an­i­mal will re­late some­how to its en­vi­ron­ment. So be­fore you tackle the de­pic­tion of the dead an­i­mal’s pelt, spend a bit of time think­ing about where your an­i­mal lives. Ask your­self ques­tions such as what’s the sun­light colour, and what cli­mate does it live in? Th­ese can give you ideas for de­tails and colour­ing that have inherent logic.

When a real-life pelt is spread flat on a floor or wall, we can see a rough con­fig­u­ra­tion of the an­i­mal’s body. It should prob­a­bly be sym­met­ri­cal, with the spine be­ing the cen­tre­line of the shape. For my fan­tasy-based im­age, I’m go­ing to choose a six-legged, furred beast that has scaled crests go­ing along the spine.

To keep the pelt splayed out flat, I de­cide to at­tach it to a hang­ing wood frame, which helps to give a nat­u­ral con­text and pro­vide more vis­ual in­ter­est.

As Har­vey Dunn put it, I’ll “let the edge carry the form“and im­me­di­ately con­vey not only the shape of the an­i­mal, but the fur con­struc­tion as well. This en­ables me to be more painterly within that shape. I’ll use pat­tern­ing pulled from real-life ref­er­ence, but take the op­por­tu­nity to be cre­ative with the colour­ing.

To mix in some ex­tra strange­ness, I’ll add a large cara­pace down the spinal ridge. Fi­nally, a strange spear weapon hang­ing on the frame pro­vides me with a bit more sto­ry­telling heft!

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