Dinosaur week has come to an end and we move on to mythical creatures! However, apart from the gryphon and unicorn I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to draw. Dinosaurs were easy because a few spring to mind straight away and we seemed to be taught a great deal about them at school, though for what reason I’ve yet to discover. Mythical creatures weren’t so much on the curriculum, except of course the Greek ones like Medusa, Cerberus, the Hydra, and the Minotaur, but I’m wanting to focus on more general ones, which in itself poses the question; what other mythical creatures are there? Is Bigfoot one? The yeti? Or are they the same, but geographically different? Dragons are a possible option as they appear in many different cultures but again; which type to choose? Are goblins and orcs mythical or were they made up by fantasy authors? I will ruminate on these questions and get back to you. You’ve been most helpful.
I’m still not completely used to seeing depictions of dinosaurs with feathers, especially Raptors and Tyrannosaurus, but I’m fully onboard with the whole “dinosaurs evolved into birds” theory. I like the idea that you’re seeing living fossils pecking around the garden and flying around your head (less so when they shit on you of course).
The Jurassic Park is still THE dinosaur movie. I don’t think any of the sequels have even come close to the original. The T-Rex in the rain; the raptors in the kitchen; what an outstanding film! I remember watching it with a friend when I was about 10, and we shit ourselves when we found out that the Raptors had escaped. I think we thought they’d be at the front door jimmying open the locks.
I’ve been trying less and less to clean up the gesture lines I use to construct these characters in order to maintain a feeling of energy and movement. The wildebeest I think is a good example of this. You can see the lines are more chaotic and less precise than any of the previous characters and I think that adds to the overall aesthetic of the piece. As well as maintaining a sense of movement and energy this process is also training me to work in an almost traditional “pencil and paper” manner. I’ve said before that I’d like to start working using traditional media, be it pencil, charcoal, or ink, and make some originals, so these characters and this style of work would be a nice gateway to that.
It’s a nice change working on animal because they offer up so much variety in shape and character. I’ve found that I’m more prone to seeking out basic shapes and exaggerating proportions, whereas with human characters I’m always a little more cautious.
Since starting the daily characters I feel I’m able to get my eye in much quicker, though I still think I’m looking for something that I can’t quite see yet. What that something is I don’t quite know; a new process; an evolution of style, maybe? I think I just have to keep going and hopefully whatever it is I’m looking for will appear through repetition, like training any skill.
The amount of time it can take to draw these characters can really vary. The cat, for instance, was a quick 30 minute exercise that started out more proportionally realistic, but was stretched and simplified over a couple of sketches. The lines were kept intentionally loose and sketchy because of the speed of the drawing, and the same can be said of the colour application.
The lumberjack was a bastard. I originally intended to only spend about an hour on him, but I just couldn’t seem to get the look right, so I ended up doing multiple versions (different poses, face, beard, clothing, etc…) which took about four hours in the end. I still don’t really like the design which makes it worse, but I realised I wasn’t loose enough with the initial sketches and I think that stumped me.
The old hag was a fun character to work on. I took inspiration from an photo of a young girl backpacking. I sketched her out and then just exaggerated the shapes, added an octopus, a weird cat-like creature, and aged her up about a thousand years, and voila!
These dailies are flowing out of me a bit quicker now, and think the speed and looseness shows up in the line-work. I quite like how rough the lines look though I might have a look and see if I can discover some new digital brushes to play around with. I quite like the Roman legionary out of these three characters, he looks like he’s been through hell and back, especially with that thousand yard stare. Honesty, imagine having to go into battle wearing some tin-foil and a skirt! No thanks!
I feel like there’s a nice progression here in terms of colour use, line work and texture (images read left to right). It’s taken a few days to get my eye in and develop a style that I’m happy with, but I think things are starting to click. The work flow is speeding up and the shapes are getting pushed and simplified more and more. I think simplifying shapes and creating a strong silhouette for the character is going to be a focus going forward!