Any ad­vice for mak­ing a fan­tasy crea­ture look plau­si­ble?

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Si­mon Kamin­ska, US

Mike replies

Tack­ling anatomy that doesn’t ex­ist isn’t as dif­fi­cult as it may seem if you take a look at an­i­mals that closely re­late to what you’re try­ing to de­sign. It’s just a mat­ter of ap­ply­ing the ref­er­ence and com­bin­ing what ex­ists in the real world with what you’ve en­vi­sioned in your mind.

Re­gard­less of how alien or crazy the anatomy may ap­pear, it all func­tions the same way as Earth’s own an­i­mals’ joints and mus­cles. I’m sim­ply mod­i­fy­ing the amount of bones, joints and how that struc­ture is de­signed us­ing what I’ve learned from var­ied species in all the dif­fer­ent classes and fam­i­lies of our own tax­o­nomic ranks.

Some­thing that I tell my­self and oth­ers, which I be­lieve helps a lot, is to think of your crea­ture as a real an­i­mal and not some myth­i­cal mon­ster. If you take the view that it’s an ac­tual species, it’s eas­ier to re­late your fic­tional crea­ture to how a real world an­i­mal walks, runs, jumps and how its anatomy reacts in a vast ar­ray of dif­fer­ent ac­tions. It’s best to con­sider the pur­pose be­hind the anatomy as well, in­stead of just draw­ing some­thing that looks in­ter­est­ing.

This comes down to the guid­ing prin­ci­ple that form fol­lows func­tion. Which sim­ply means that it’s more im­por­tant to make sure a de­sign func­tions prop­erly be­fore you worry too much about the aes­thetic de­tails. So I al­ways try to keep things sim­ple early on un­til I’ve solved the way the anatomy is bro­ken up and how this crea­ture fits within my own fic­tional world.

This beast has a fore­limb that con­sists of an ad­di­tional joint not usu­ally seen in na­ture, but it’s some­thing you can recre­ate by study­ing bones.

The bone struc­ture of the limbs in canines and fe­lines are very sim­i­lar. I’ve used their limbs as a start­ing point to cre­ate my own multi-jointed limb.

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