Lesson 1 - What is Creature Design?
In my first lecture, I will talk briefly about my thought process regarding creature design. By narrowing our focus, we will attempt to concentrate all of our energy purely on designing our creature. Then we will go into thumbnailing—a process that I like to call "visual brainstorming"—and my tricks and tips to do it most effectively. For your first assignment, you will be asked to thumbnail several creature designs.
Lesson 2 - Comparative Anatomy
Anatomy is extremely important when it comes to good creature design, and understanding skeletal and muscular structures will help when finalizing our creature. Therefore, in this lesson, we will compare basic human anatomy to animal anatomy—how they are similar and how they are different. For your assignment, you will be asked to do front- and side-view anatomical studies of any land mammal. (It is important to note that last week's assignment was design-based while this assignment is foundation-based. We will be bouncing from right brain to left brain often in this course in order to keep ideas fresh and skills strong.)
Lesson 3 - Thumbnail to Sketches
Once anatomy is better understood, it will be much easier to start evaluating what is found in our thumbnailed ideas. Sketching out our thumbnails will help air out our designs, and start to really nail down the design and structure of our creature. In my professional opinion, this is where the best ideas truly shine and break through. Thumbnailing is a great way to throw all your ideas in a pot, but sketching is where you find out what really works and what does not. For your assignment, you will select your best thumbnails from Assignment 1 and bring them into full sketches.
Lesson 4 - Gesture Drawing of Animals
Now that we have drawn a bunch of creature designs and animal studies, it is time to examine how to capture the essence of an animal when it is at rest and in motion. Knowing how an animal moves is vitally important because this is how we will make sure our creature is functional and therefore believable. To help us understand how animals rest and move, we can visit a zoo, watch videos, or even look at photos for reference. This knowledge of dynamics will help in future thumbnailing as well as posing our creature in our final drawing. For your assignment, you will do 30 gesture drawings of an animal, 15 at rest and 15 in motion.
Lesson 5 - Posing and Fitting in an Environment
Now, we will bring our creature to life. We will take the ambiguous world that we started with and make it more of a reality. This will not only involve research of similar environments from real life, but also our own understanding of the world surrounding our creature. For your assignment, I will choose a few of your best sketches for you to pose. In addition, you will be asked to create appropriate moods and settings for your creatures. These sketches will help us determine which piece to take to final.
Lesson 6 - Color and Patterns
Color is definitely something worth practicing, not only for creature design, but for any design that needs to come to a finish. In this lecture, I will talk about how values play a strong part in color design, and how to break it down so that we can apply the appropriate colors in our final. We can usually make a creature design stand out by applying a pattern to it. The best patterns—whether stripes, spots, rosettes, etc.—come from life, so for your assignment, you will be asked to do 10 color and pattern studies from real animals.
Lesson 7 - Coloring Our Creature
Now we have a drawing to color! Establishing a strong base value to our sketch will make it easy for us to apply color in the final phase. I will demonstrate how to introduce a pattern scheme to our sketch that will keep the macro design intact. Then, we will introduce some secondary design elements to give our creature some flare. With the correct application of color, we can really make our drawings come to life. For your assignment, you will be asked to color the approved poses.
Lesson 8 - Finalizing
This is the final stage of our creature concept. In this lecture, we will take all of what we learned in the earlier lessons to help bring our design to completion. I will talk about the tricks and tips that I use to maintain the integrity of my design when finalizing my creature, such as using animal reference and gesture drawings to keep the skeletal structure intact. Rendering can take a lot away from the initial impact of the piece, so it's important to focus our attention on controlling what stays and what goes. For your assignment, finish your drawing and create a professional illustration of your creature design.
Lesson 9 - Closing Thoughts and Motivation
Being an artist in this industry is not all about how well you can draw or paint. The pitfalls that you will face will likely not be art related at all. In my final lecture, I will talk about my experiences in the industry, what you can expect from future employers, and share with you some of the words of wisdom that were passed to me by other great artists. I will go through a breakdown of my process again, and talk about what it takes to keep pushing great creature designs as well as introduce other ways to learn and study in order to help your progression in both creature design and drawing.