How do I draw an imaginary creature that’s stretching?
Dominic Armstrong, US
Creature posing can be difficult, but if we work from general to specific, we can achieve an interesting pose. The stretch is a universal movement for a lot of real-life animals, and visualising your creature design this way will show off its character.
I begin with a rough gesture to block out the pose. I like to push through my strokes and draw through the forms, much like an animator. To this end, use your shoulder when you draw in poses – you’ll develop a more dynamic posture for your creature.
In working out the pose, I’ll usually work with wire frames to find those big skeleton landmarks like the rib cage, the shoulder blades and the pelvis. From here, I build up the drawing, using layers in Photoshop to overlay more finalised drawings over the last. Every time I bring the drawing to a certain point, I reduce the Opacity, make a new layer and refine the drawing.
As I work, I consider the shapes of the creature before I think about the details. It helps to keep things in perspective as I work. I call this “the planar view”. Now I find those major muscle groups: the glutes, the triceps, the latissimus dorsi and so on. Muscle anatomy for creature design takes lots of study and practice. The more you draw real animals, the easier time you’ll have adapting anatomy to creatures.
From here, I move into detail. I think about the weight of the creature and where I can flatten the forms to show where they meet the ground.
Even though I’m using digital tools, I choose to keep a pencil-like aesthetic. This means I can maintain an animated feel to the pose and have fun exploring the shapes and rhythms of this creature’s body.