Hey there, it’s been a while since my last post here in the forums (again), but after I finished Term 5, I thought it might be interesting, and helpful to share my assignments with you. Since I completed all these already, I’m planning to go over individual steps and share my workflow and thought process with you. First, I will go over one of my creature designs, and after this, I’ll do the same for one of my character designs. I hope everything is understandable, English is not my native language, but if something is unclear feel free to ask. Of course, if you have any feedback, I would love to hear it.
Creature Step 1:
So basically the first thing I do is read the assignments. In this case, there is nothing too specific other than create a believable fantasy creature. I usually follow the first idea that comes in my mind. For this, I went with a medium to large carnivore that can fly and lives in a jungle environment. After this, I go on Pinterest and collect references. In this case different birds, dinosaurs and big cats basically everything that reminds of my first idea.
Creature Step 2:
After I have some pictures, I start doing thumbnails. At this stage, everything goes. While I’m doing these, I have my reference images open to get more inspiration. For these thumbnails, I used mostly the lasso tool to create a silhouette and some basic shading to get some internal details. For this stage, I like to use just three values to focus really on the shapes. For my final design, I decided to work with thumbnail 4.
Creature Step 3:
Now I have an idea of what my final design could look like. But before I start drawing, I go back and see if I need more specific reference images. I like to start my final piece with a sketch. This sketch can be very rough or refined depending on how comfortable I’m moving on with the design. Other than that, I try to refine the anatomy and proportion, but things can and will change later on. Also, I like to have my thumbnail somewhere on my canvas so I can refer back to it when I need it.
Creature Step 4:
After I’m happy with my sketch, I use the lasso tool once again to create a silhouette. I can use this later for masking different layers. Then I block in the colours I want to use. In this case, I was aiming for an almost triade colour palette with green as my primary colour. I decided to use these colours after I saw the picture of a tropical bird with similar colours.
Creature Step 5:
I paint in some basic shadows and lights on an extra layer using a mask so I don’t paint outside of my creature. I usually keep working in colour because I find it much harder to add colours after a complete grayscale painting. But I still check my values using a layer filled with black and set to saturation. If I turn this layer on I can see the image in black and white.
Creature Step 6:
From there it's »just« refining things. I try to get rid of the linework by using sharp and soft edges to show the forms of what I'm painting. Also, I built up my shadows and lights and decrease my brush size for smaller details. Because the head is, in this case, the focal point I try to start there and put the most detail around the head area. Also, it's worth mentioning that it's never too late for adjustments but more on that in the next step.
Creature Step 7:
Because the wings were something that was bothering me a lot, I had to make several changes to them. For now, I decided to remove them altogether and work on the arms and legs that were covered by the large feathers. By doing this, I got a better understanding of how the feathers form the wings on the arms. For this step, I took a closer look into different dinosaurs with wings and how they are structured. I think it is important to change things that are not working until you are satisfied with the result.
Creature Step 8:
To speed up the process, I used a photo for the final wings. Before I painted over the photo, I adjusted the value, colour and saturation to match the rest of my piece. After this, I painted in some more feathers to blend in the photo with the rest. By the way, this is not the only photo I used. For the head, I did the same thing with the difference that I changed the layer mode to get some happy accidents
Creature Step 9:
For some reasons I really like adding rim lights to my paintings. It makes everything looks more 3D, and it can help with the readability too. I usually put in blue light from behind and try to imagine where the light can hit the object. I try to avoid contouring everything because then the opposite occurs, and it makes everything flatter. Then some final adjustments to the light and colour using Curves and Hue/Saturation and the creature itself is complete.
Creature Step 10:
For the final step, I add a shadow on the ground and add some colour to my background. Then I paint in some dust particles and brighten some parts behind the creature. And last but not least I make a new layer set to overlay, fill it with 50% grey, add a noise filter and lower the opacity. Its something I almost always do because it brings everything together. And there is the final image.
And some colour variations: