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Coming up with new characters, what is your process?


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What I usually do for Foodbabs is I draw the pet normally, then "remix" it for the type of food I want. My egg cat, for example, I turned the yolk part into the head. For my sharkermelon, I used melon slices for the fins and the green color for the rest of the body.




Not very complex, but simple things can be pleasing to the eye.


For most of my wolf rank markings, I really just scribbled around until I thought they looked nice. Others are symbols, like how the hunter marking resembles teeth. The shaman markings are loosely based on Amaterasu's markings. The genetic markings are my best attempt at actual dog markings. I used http://doggenetics.co.uk/ for a bunch of reference images. The bases come both in solid natural colors and blended fantasy colors. I take a single color for the blends and work in different shades of it and/or different colors that compliment them, like how I did with my Ivy and Saffron bases.




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For the Encarses, i think about an aesthetic theme, or just make it based on a real animal. But about the aesthetic themes, is that i love aesthetic stuff, so if you found many aesthetic things on my site, it's just me being crazy.

Then after finding a theme i want, i put it in the Encarse lineart.






(i couldn't show some more because my site is down)


Now for Pixeons, i make them based in real pigeon breeds. Just that.
I also use some sites to know how they look like.






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  • 3 weeks later...

All things already exists. The way the ancient chinese described the lung dragon, was something along the lines of "the antlers of a stag, the face of a camel/horse, the tail of a snake, the eyes of a rabbit, the belly of a clam, the scales of a carp, the ears of a cow" and so forth, with some variation in different accounts. But no one would think "oh look, it has a camels face!" by looking at the image of a Chinese dragon. That's the power of combining different elements until it is something unique. 

I usually just draw. I start with an animal I want to base it on, and I change a lot of things until it doesn't look like anything immediately recognizeable. 

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For me, I usually start in one of two ways:

Method 1: I come up with two animals that are far from each other, like a snail and a cat, and then work out several rough designs of how I can combine the two animals. Sometimes I'll come up with 3 or 4 different animals and combine them. Other times, I'll look to dinosaurs or creatures described in ancient mythologies and start combining them with things I see today.

Method 2: I usually do this one when I feel super particularly stumped that day. I start taking pictures of things and then import that picture into Sketchbook Pro drawing program and use the mirror tool. This tool splits the canvas in half so whatever side you have your image on, it mirrors it on the other side. I then move the picture around close to the line, kinda like what they do with those ink things where you splat the ink on one side and fold the paper, open it up again, and see what new image it creates. I'm basically doing the same thing here. Usually the longer I fiddle with moving the image around and seeing what is mirrored on the other side, I start seeing and making out shapes. I can usually get some really weird critters this way. Usually need a head to work with and then the body just seems to fall into place afterwards.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Melon Shark is so awesome.

Interesting to hear how people are developing characters. It seems most are basing off of other creatures- I mostly experiment in the same way. I might just draw some random shapes that end up with earth-like features (two eyes, two ears, two front legs or arms, two back legs, possibly tail, etc.) Sometimes I add extra legs, etc. but all in all mostly earthen.

I have tried drawing alien like creatures but they almost always end up with at least a few earthen features and even then they don't look particularily attractive.

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I develop species concepts more than characters. I pretty much always start out by sketching something super sloppy to get the rough shape I want down. Then I take some time imagining how it moves. Once I have an idea for movement I find an animal with a similar movement style and do some anatomy studies to figure out what makes it capable of moving the way it does. I compare animal builds and combine them to form the base for my creature. Then I work without the references in adjusting proportions by blocking out the muscle groups, then layering skin over the top, then adding the top layer. I usually go through and make any adjustments to the overall anatomy to come up with a standard for the species.

Most of my species boards (my big documents I sketch concepts for a species on) are full of quick-doodled pose studies to see if it looks feasible and natural, and various body parts, usually with a ton of notes jotted down like "movement based hunter- slit pupils" "arboreal- plantigrade, prehensile tail?" "herbivore- side eyes" "fast runner- flexible spine, sloped?" and the like. I base the design on what the animal is and does:

Is it an herbivore? A carnivore? Insectivore? Omnivore? - determines the necessary dental layout which I develop the rough skull shape from.

What does it eat? I get more specific than the broad group. What it eats/where it gets its food from is going to determine a lot. Say it's an herbivore and its main diet is fruit. Fruit grows commonly in trees, so it needs to get to trees somehow. Is it going to be large to reach up, or arboreal so it can climb trees?

Where does it live? The climate/habitat is going to determine a lot of the adaptations. If it's a fruit eater, and it climbs, chances are its in a tropical climate. Tropics are hot, so it'll need pretty big ears, a low-fat makeup, and exposed skin to release more heat.

How does it court? Most adaptations are based on two things- getting food and making love. Most animals have some sort of courtship ritual. Birds usually dance using their feathers, so those feathers need to be flashy, such as birds of paradise, and pigeons' iridescent necks. Other animals grapple with competition (lions), sing (frogs), fight with the potential mate to prove themselves worthy (oscar cichlid), etc. 

I continue from there by answering more questions, and I often come up with questions by learning about the behaviors of other animals- why and how they do what they do.

Right now I have a thread up for my species that I've already been working on for a while, but I am going to toss one up starting from scratch to share my development process with others. 

One of my favorite exercises to do is take a skeleton of any animal, be it extinct or alive still, and without looking at pictures of the animal, draw in the muscles/skin/exterior over the skeleton as though I have no idea what species the skeleton belongs to. I've come up with some really fun ideas that way.

Edited by KingofCrows
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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm more of a creature artist than a pet artist though I think there's a lot of crossover. Or pet could be a subgenre of creature art though that could be a topic of it's own.

Anyway Subconsciousness is an important factor for me.
Sometimes a vague idea comes up and i get my drawing book and start drawing the head. As I draw I get a more clear idea of where I want to take it. Maybe a long body, maybe 4 fingers, a spike here or a tuft of fur there. As I draw I get an idea of what it could eat and in what kind of place it could live or other such characteristics.

Other times I get a general theme in mind. Aquatic, misty jungle, desert.. and I think of something that could fit.
Something more reptilian or something fishlike maybe.

If you're ever struggling to come up with something new, have a look at documentaries on animals or environments.
It can be inspirational and it provides you with some materials whenever you make a new design. These materials I mean are aspects of animals and environments. The tail of a rattlesnake, the strands of skin that seem like hair on the legs of the hairy frog. Did you know there's even a flat frog who's young crawl up through the skin when ready for the world? (yeah I recently watched a docu on frogs c:) what if there was a flat lizard pet? Here's an article on that flat frog btw but I must warn for potential gross-ness, https://www.wired.com/2013/12/absurd-creature-of-the-week-the-toad-whose-young-erupt-from-her-skin/
Might be some good inspiration for halloween themed stuff.
The idea is not to just copy what's out there in nature but to keep it in mind and form something new with what you've learnt.
take the rattlesnake's tail for example, maybe you could make a design with a tip on the tail and that tip would have bands with each band having 3 small thin spikes on it? Maybe the bands are close together or perhaps there is some space in between them making it look like rings. it could be red it could be blue~
You can think actively on these things but given you've watched enough documentaries idea's may start popping up at random.
KingofCrows just above talked about a lot of things you can learn in documenetaries and books about animals and I think they gave great advice on making up new species.

Also, Sometimes I actually imagine a specific bodypart and then form the rest of the design.


Edited by Ouli
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  • 2 weeks later...

I guess I could add some more.

I tend to use a few methods to try to draw inspiration.
- Patterns from life
- Scribbles
- Random generators

There are times I'm staring at something from life and then see a pattern in it. The pattern can look like a character, or creature or part of, when I look at it. I tend to have a small hard cover sketchbook in my bag with me as much as I can for this reason. I star at some mundane object, lets say a towel, and I'll start too see either the towel itself make shapes of a creature based on how it is laid or shapes that form creatures in the pattern on the towel or the way the fibers are laying. For example, there is a little hand cloth near me and when I look at it and focus on it I can make out a cute eyeball like creature in the way the fibers are shuffled.

The other method I like to use is scribbling. I uses lines, curves, circles, and/or shapes. I just scribble them out in no particular way. This is like making my own patterns to see something in. This can also be done by silhouetting shapes instead of just using their lines. I remember when I was a kid I was shone a neat trick that involved wring a word on  paper, folding it in half to cut out around the wording. When unfolded the outline of the mirrored word can inspired a design. This can be done digitally too of course. This also helps make fun and interesting creature or even character silhouette shapes. It can help prevent you from using the same body structure for all your creatures and characters.

Next is one I have been mostly using, random generators. Now I am extremely picky but in all honesty you don't have to be, and is even better and simpler if you aren't. You can use an random animal, element, object, or whatever else generator to help you design a creature or character. There are some places that have a mix of things being generated, and that's fine, but don't forget that it's ok to use multiple to suit what you are looking for. I have spent days trying to find the perfect one use generator, and, you arne't going to find it, it doesn't exist and can't exist. What you are looking for or need is never going to be consistent so just one generator is simply not possible plus is a pain to try to make. I tried making an all in one random generator, there are a lot of words in this language. Anyway, it's best to just think of the general theme you want and find generators for those things to help pull inspiration from. Like maybe I want to make a creature based on a career, all I really need is a career generator and then maybe if i really can't think of an animal to suit it then use a animal and then maybe even some personality ones if I really can't feel inspired for more details.

You do not have to be over the top complicated like I am. I just have this uncontrollable urge to make things 100 times more complicated than they need to be at times. However, if you want to find some cool creatures you may have never heard of before I highly suggest using http://www.catalogueoflife.org/col/browse/tree to generate from. It is not a random generator site and they did not take kindly to my suggestion to add that as a feature. So you unfortunately have to make it a three step thing.  You can randomize each category, or the phylum in it or the classes in a phylum, and so on. You can keep going until you reach a species or you can just look up the group you got for inspiration. Not all species have pictures or data sine that is every known species, so many have nothing on them that is public. Just a little heads up there. But you can find some really cool and fun species or types doing that complicated method. But using a generic animal generator is honestly just as efficient. This is just in case you want to really be over the top complicated or really want to find something new not many use or may have in generators.

Hope those are helpful! Oh and don't forget to have fun and remember not every creature has to be pretty, but try to avoid adding too much to their design. It's best for them to be easy to understand and remember.

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