What tex­tures could I use when paint­ing an alien creature?

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Ca­tri­ona Pahich, US

Dave replies

One of the fun things about draw­ing aliens is that they can ex­hibit all kinds of bizarre char­ac­ter­is­tics. Start by think­ing about where your alien comes from. A dry world? One with heavy grav­ity? Is it am­phibi­ous? Or just a good old­fash­ioned rock mon­ster? Some fore­thought about the creature’s ori­gins and en­vi­ron­ment can help to in­spire you when it comes to tex­tures.

For this ques­tion I pho­to­graph some plant and fun­gus tex­tures – hope­fully, they’ll help with my alien’s ap­pear­ance. I come across an oak tree with fan­tas­tic round growths all around its base, which re­minds me of the horns and knobs that are vis­i­ble on some species of crus­taceans. I let the shapes sug­gest a form for the alien’s head, and then use a Chalk brush to sketch its gen­eral sil­hou­ette.

The tree tex­ture sits above that on a layer set to Over­lay, and I draw on top of both with my blocky Chalk brush, play­ing with the forms and pulling out fea­tures such as the eye bulbs. I set the Eraser tool to use the same brush that I’m draw­ing with. A bit of stri­ated fun­gus is per­fect for mak­ing a strange gill-like mouth. Even though I’ve comped up this alien from for­est tex­tures, he now looks like he orig­i­nates from a dis­tant wa­ter-cov­ered planet. Have fun and let your tex­tures in­spire you as you work!

This alien character con­cept orig­i­nated from my ref­er­ence tex­ture. I let the forms in the tex­ture guide me as I sculpted his crus­tacean-like fea­tures. Tex­tures that I pho­to­graph dur­ing a walk through a na­ture re­serve sug­gest a knobbed shell of some kind – I imag­ined tiny eyes on each bump!

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