Q&A: crea­tures

Ques­tion

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Contents - Luca Lund, Nor­way

An­swer Al­li­son replies

If you’re ex­trap­o­lat­ing an an­i­mal’s char­ac­ter­is­tics out to that of a fan­tasy crea­ture, it’s good to know some­thing of the an­i­mal’s anatomy, its en­vi­ron­ment, how it moves and what the dis­po­si­tion might be.

I be­gin with a rough body shape and then work out a close-up of the head to set the tone of the crea­ture. This not only helps me come up with a solid sil­hou­ette and flow, but also en­ables me to de­cide what co­he­sive el­e­ments I’m go­ing to use through­out. I use the Lasso tool to lay out where mark­ings are go­ing to be, and to de­fine key shapes amid busy pat­terns to help bal­ance the de­sign.

Re­mem­ber that form and func­tion are 1 in­ter­twined. I ask my­self ques­tions as I work and look for an­swers in real an­i­mals so that I can in­clude more in­ter­est­ing el­e­ments into the cre­ation. I don’t just throw legs on a snake to make a dragon: there’s snake, mon­i­tor lizard and crested gecko in there.

Dis­po­si­tion is also in­te­gral to hon­ing in on the body lan­guage that will bring your crea­ture to life. A tense, slightly hunched and low to the ground an­i­mal could be ready to pounce or about to re­treat de­pend­ing on limb po­si­tion, body an­gle and fa­cial ex­pres­sion. A con­fi­dent an­i­mal may be the op­po­site. Once you know what your crea­ture is feel­ing, you can work out the best way to ex­press that.

I try to repli­cate the feel of the orig­i­nal in­spi­ra­tion an­i­mal through pat­tern, anatomy choices, pose and per­son­al­ity. Nail down your sil­hou­ette and shape and a rough colour pass prior to any real ren­der­ing, so you don’t wind up do­ing need­less work.

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