What’s a good way to concepting an original fantasy humanoid?
Gerry Leyland, US
Inventing new humanoids is great fun, but an awareness of real-world creatures and anatomies can make them much more convincing.
I recently came across Dunkleosteus, a powerful armoured fish from the Late Devonian period with a beak-like arrangement of bone blades in place of teeth. Dunkleosteus had a great face, so I consider how to adapt it into a humanoid. Predators tend to have forwardfacing eyes, while prey have widely spaced vision on the sides of their heads. For my new Dunkeloid, I set the eyes slightly apart, but still forward-facing. Dunkleosteus even had armoured eye rings, which look very striking on my new chap! I narrow the wide jaw plates to create more of a chin effect.
With the powerful jaw mechanism that Dunkleosteus possessed, I figure that Dunkeloid would have massive jaw musculature. However, to introduce some vulnerability to the character, I look at the long necks of tortoises. Using softer, thinner neck folds creates textural contrast to all that bone and carapace, and I use tortoise-inspired patterns across the shoulders.
By borrowing interesting ideas from these two actual creatures, my new fantasy character now has more believability. Take a look into the less-travelled corners of the animal world, and let yourself be inspired by the unusual denizens waiting there!
My humanoid version of a large, imposing prehistoric armoured fish is now able to wear a hat or drive a car!
A Dunkleosteus skull at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane. The fish had unbelievable jaw power, and could bite through bone.