Help me depict a beast about to pounce
Bailey Davis, England
Answer Allison replies
In tackling a crouching creature that’s ready to pounce, you need to first know what animals you’re basing the creature off, understand what their muscle structure is like, and then be aware of the body language they exhibit when they’re on the offensive. Most of the muscles found in humans are also found in other mammals – they’re simply shaped a little differently. Remember, form dictates function and vice versa. If you understand comparative anatomy it can help if you physically act out the pose to see what muscles you’re using, so you know what to accentuate in your piece.
Weighting and angles are hugely important in posing. Ask yourself how heavy is your creature, where is the tension, is it concentrated and focused or a little spread out? The chimera has the high ground here, so its head is down and forward, intent on you. Its weight is channelled into its right foreleg, which is bent to take some weight off the left arm, which is in turn extended. This isn’t an optimal angle for a launch, but instead suggests that it’s creeping forward. The left foot (unseen) steps down to the rock behind the body, while the right begins to pivot and is ready to step down after. The impression is not that it’s going to pounce immediately (because the hind legs are the primary drive of the pounce and the weight is spread momentarily at the fore), but that it’s simply moving into position to do so, and will launch itself once it’s there.
I save almost all of the detail for the final rendering pass and instead ensure that pose, movement and landmarks are taken care of I use a lot of Overlay, Hard Light and Multiply layers to build up lighting as I go, and work from large to small when I paint. Shapes first, detail second.