- Lesson details
In this drawing demonstration, creature designer and art director Carlos Huante shares with you his process of designing a creature from imagination. Unlike the first two demonstrations in this series, Carlos steers away entirely from human characteristics and creates an octopus-inspired sea creature entirely from imagination. Carlos shares his techniques and thoughts throughout the demonstration, describing his typical process as well as giving tips for producing your own work in this field.
- Prismacolor Colored Pencil – Ultramarine
- Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencil – Bleu Violet
- Kneaded Eraser
- Drawing Paper
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number three. There were two previous demos to this. The first one was a pretty simple
approach over a very human-looking structure. With the second, I kind of escaped that and
went with a more animal type of skull. With this one I wanted to escape the anthropomorphic
structure altogether and try something completely without a skeleton, something loose of that.
We’re going to go there. Let’s get started.
I’m going to make this something non-anthropomorphic, to a degree anyways.
I’m using a chewed-up indigo blue Prismacolor. You can see it there.
I’m starting here in the corner because I have an idea of what I’m going to do with the length of this
page and the layout of this image and how it’s going to sit here.
One of the problems that you actually have to sort out when you’re drawing or when you’re designing. You have
to kind of almost look into the future
and be able to predict what you’re going to design.
Don’t mind me being quiet here. I’m thinking and trying to sort this out.
This guy is going to have tentacles in his arms. The thing about tentacles and the way most people draw these,
tentacles, they usually end up drawing them really fat, and these stocky things where
the outer lines of tentacles don’t have any rhythm,
which means that your negative space is actually really static.
If your actual line, that is, the border of your image, that
line and that line, these are the borders of your, the actual mass of your image. If
those things are stiff that means that your negative space is actually going to be stiff.
If your negative space which is outside of those lines, this abstract stuff here, are
stiff that means that this obviously, the form lines are stiff.
Another thing is that if I have a flowing line on the top,
and I have this line that’s doing whatever the hell it wants to do
downhere with no rhyme or reason, you’re going
to stop the flow of motion. You’re going to ruin the flow of the design from its origin
to the end. You want to create a line of energy. In tentacles I see people doing this a lot
where they have these really stubby looking tentacles. There is no rhythm. It’s actually
even difficult for me to draw what I’m describing because I have trained myself to draw these
things with a lot more rhythm for many, many years, some of the education that I had working
with guys in the makeup world from my early days.
If you could see what I just did here, I’m actually creating points of accent for motion.
I just hit an angle here so that way it doesn’t look like some gelatinous blob of line work.
There is a lot of finagling that I’m going to be doing here to create the illusion of
structure because these things don’t really have a lot of bones in them. There is no armature
inside of a tentacle. You have to create the illusion by peaks of angles of muscle.
Maybe you could call it transition of muscle groups.
Hard and soft. There is a straight then a round.
You have this angle. Then it goes into this soft. It gives it a nice variation.
It gives the people that are looking at your image something else to look at rather than
just a bunch of flowing lines. Pull out my kneaded eraser and lighten this up now.
Okay, let’s see if this guy is going to be the outside,
maybe this guy can be one of the inside tentacles.
I’m thinking of the layout because the acting is part of the design.
This guy will have six arms.
It’s looking alright.
Then we can start getting into specifics.
I’m just trying to imagine how this shape, which has no bones in it would, with this action thrusting this way,
what would that do to this funky little mass here of a head.
You can see how I’m holding my pencil. I’m drawing—
I already talked about all this simple stuff on the first two demos that I did.
These are kind of—I don’t know what this is or what you would call them.
Kind of surface details.
I image that they are, it’s like a ribbing architecture.
It’s not even—I wouldn’t call it architecture. It’s the ribbing surface that maybe describes the separation of
all or maybe the—not the separation—maybe the division of all these little forms that make up this eye mass.
Working as a creature designer, you tend to make up a lot of words. There are a lot of words to describe what
we do, when we’re trying to describe what we do to the production guys that are going to make this stuff in CG,
unless we get to sculpt it, which then we don’t have to do a lot of description in words.
We can sit there and show them But to clients, sometimes you have to make up stuff,
and it’s a comedy routine.
I’m designing some wrinkles. Of all this mass here I’m thinking of the water that’s surrounding it and how this
creature, this being, and how it’s thin flesh, not unlike an octopus, skin made out of water, and imagining that.
I just go lightly over this stuff in motion being drawn this way and maybe being pushed up.
All this mass right here. There are all these collisions and there is movement going on.
All this stuff is alive.
And the only way you get that kind, say that imagination, the ability to think ahead, is to look at stuff.
You have to look at a lot of the nature kind of programs. Really look at the stuff they’re showing.
Look at the animals and look at the surface.
Look at the way certain textures react to their surrounding, the texture of the skin.
If say, for example, this is a submerged creature and it has a super-thin skin,
it’s going to behave a certain way versus an elephant in dry air. That stuff buckles.
You know the way can elephants can—or hippo skin, rhino skin, the way it buckles, the way it wrinkles.
That’s too strong. We need it lighter.
I could have made it round, but I moved my hand and I liked the mistake that I made.
I thought that this would be much more interesting.
I tell you, even designing what I was going to do here today, and I was just talking about this to them here
as we were talking before I started here,
I had a vague idea a couple blocks away as I was driving in of what I was going to do here.
All these details of what the eye shape is, you make it up as you go. That’s my job. That’s what I do every day.
You make stuff up. You have to be able to make it up on the fly. That means you have to have a lot inside your
head that you’ve been cataloging for years.
Now I’m just designing—here I’m designing this ring over here. Here is a rim. Here is a rim over here.
This guy is all wrinkled up over here which is pretty cool.
That’s a pretty weird eye mass.
That thing is too shallow for me. I’m going to bring it around.
Even though I’m moving at kind of good, moderate speed here, there are points actually in designing stuff
like this that I may work it to a certain level and then leave it and come back to it the next day.
I have overlapping designs going on that way. I like to sit with stuff and make stuff up.
Sometimes it’s not all there in my head. As I’m looking at it I go there’s something that I want to do here
but I don’t really know what that is yet.
Now with digital you could take it, scan the image,
and experiment digitally and you don’t have to worry about erasing the paper
and destroying the surface with erasing.
That’s why when you’re just drawing on paper like this
you don’t want to erase too much because then you destroy the surface.
You take your time with the image. Especially if you don’t have it.
I’m using a kneaded eraser because it’s a lot softer on the surface. This pencil does, actually, it’s just enough.
It erases just enough for me.
I don’t care if I have the construction lines underneath. I love it, actually.
And I’m not just drawing lines here. Can you see it?
There is a form here that’s starting to kind of..if I look straight down the middle, I’m starting to see a nice shape
kind of working its way up here. I’m going to go with it.
Maybe I won’t like it as I go, but right now I’m liking it. And then I go, okay, that’s cool.
Then I look at this and I go, oh, maybe I should pull this thing out.
And if you ask me why?
Because it appeals to my sensibility, and it appeals to my choices and my bank of choices
that I have in my head from other things that I’ve done in the past. My language is already in my head.
I know my visual language. I know what I like, and I know how I like to say it.
Those are things that you can’t really teach. You have to get that from experience.
That’s why it’s so difficult to try to teach design of this kind of thing.
It’s not easy. Actually, I think it’s almost impossible to try to teach.
That’s why these demos for me are probably the best way to show all this off and to show the way that I work.
Maybe that would help a lot of you to feel rested in making mistakes and choices for yourselves.
I know that a lot of times people feel nervous and they feel insecure because they are making so many
stops and starts or they’re moving really slow. Honestly, do not get married to speed.
Speed is a liar. Draw slow.
I just read an article where Moebius was saying that very thing,
and I was very happy because he is one of my heroes.
I think William is in there. I think he was part of the translation of this article or this piece that Moebius
had written while he was alive. He talks about that,
taking your time and draw slow. I totally agree with that.
All this speed painting and speed drawing is going to make all of you nervous,
and you’re going to make a lot of bad choices.
And you know what you’re going to do is you’re going to do for your defaults.
If you’re young you don’t have any good defaults yet
because you don’t have enough experience to have a bank inside of you that is unique.
So, just saying, slow down.
This is flat now. Now that I have this I don’t like it.
See. Just erase it.
Like Charleton Heston said in Agony in the Ecstasy, “If the wine is sour, throw it out.”
See, that works already better. I still have kind of like a vibe of what I had drawn in there, and it works better.
It’s nice and dirty. It looks great. That’s good.
I work with a lot of different illustrators and I see guys just blazing through their designs.
Some work really hyper-detailed, and they work to try to get this drawing completely polished.
Super worked out and the surface is all there, but the planning, the actual plan of the creature,
the plan of the thing that they were working on was secondary.
All they do is work out all the surface. There is no, I mean you have to do both at the same time.
The best is actually being able to do both at the same time. That’s kind of what I’m doing here.
I’m planning the form and the surface at the same time. I’m thinking about the form underneath and accenting it
with some surface kind of stuff to describe those forms.
And you’re working both out. But just going for one or the other, it’s going to fail.
I don’t know if I like that, but I’m going to go with it.
I mean this line being so strong. Actually, I don’t think I do like it.
Let’s see, I have this guy coming in, and this guy is coming in over here.
Yeah, that’ll be cool. I’ll come here and have this other guy come and cross over in front.
I’m designing the base and how these things are actually coming into the body
of this guy and how that’s going to work.
We go off the paper.
Now that I have an idea here, let’s see, I’ll go ahead and create a division, a middle line to give us a breakup of
motion and then twisting it now. I ought to have this guy, like I was talking about earlier, the negative,
the actual structure lines are my bookends. Let’s just nail that down a little bit more.
Let’s see, let’s do this. This is going to be my middle line of the cylinder.
You have a cylinder, right, this tentacle.
The division between for the top surface and then the bottom surface, the belly. And then on the belly itself
also, here are your sides. Say you’re looking at it straight on the middle on the bottom of the tentacle.
I’m going to create another division that divides the two halves of this tootsie roll.
What this does it’ll give me a good line of motion so you’ll feel the thing undulating.
Now because I have given myself good design cues to play with, see there is the bottom,
the division of the bottom, and now you know that it’s twisting around.
And I’m going to pull it back down. Pull the middle. Pretty cool.
And I’m just roughing this in. I’m not really, I’m going to do that with all of them.
These guys are different than these. These are almost like this leg, yeah.
And these two are going to be like arms.
See, now that I’m working here, this has given me a little bit of even a better vibe of what would work
even better up here that what I have drawn. I’m thinking of the line of motion for the entire character.
I have this piece right here.
I’ll just draw it through so you guys can see the edge of the character.
I’ll make that line fatter.
Let’s give this better motion.
Their structure was looking a little bit too static.
I want this form to flow over so everything is being thrown back to/from this side
and spinning over to the other side.
Everything has a good, you know, is getting a flow here.
After I do all this, I just simply take it back down and then I can redraw all the lines now
because I know where my construction—I can see them.
I guess I could describe what I’m doing here. When I design and I’m drawing these volumes—
say this shape is undulating, I’m thinking of, well, here it is going this way.
So here is another, it’s changing direction so I draw another shape.
I’m thinking about the flexing of the form.
This cylinder is going away. I’m imagining it as a cylinder going away from me.
These are pretty simplistic, you know. This is really simple, right?
But now as I get into it, now I’m going to break it up and subdivide it.
Then the amount of times that you subdivide it makes it more and more real.
This is like, say, the primary shapes of this character. They are kind of like blocked out here.
Now, to make it more and more real outside of lighting, and I’m just talking,
but you have to use lighting to describe your forms. It’s how you keep on, how you subdivide.
Say like I have this shape here, and it’s really simple. It’s these two halves.
Now, if I subdivide that again, like each side, now I’ve just done that.
It’ll start to get more real, more and more natural looking because now you’re describing what each one of these
sides is actually doing. Then you want to break it up again.
Then you’re getting into the way that the actual surfaces are breaking up.
You keep on going, and it’ll start to get more and more real.
So, let me see if I like this now. I think I do.
Don’t mind me being quiet here.
There is not really much I can say about this. This is me inventing and following what I’ve already planned out.
There is not really much I can say about it. I don’t know what I’m doing until I see it at this point.
If you want to follow the first two demos, I do a lot more description
because those things are pretty simple and standard. Much easier, less thought I had to put into those two.
It was more for the purposes of giving information.
This demo here is more along the lines of what I do for a living. It’s harder to describe at this level.
For those of you that are beginners, some of you are professionals watching this.
Thanks for watching. Just doing what we do.
Everything is starting to kind of move back and forth.
There is nothing really static. That’s what I hate the most when I look at my stuff is when it looks stiff.
I don’t care how much rendering I’ve put into it, how much of the beautiful surface,
if it is stiff I’ll throw it away.
Mind you, there are images that I have to do that are just static profiles.
Even on the static profile of the character, because that’s the only way you can really see it.
Sometimes you have to do that to show the character off and show the design off.
But even all that surface detail that you put into that,
even though the character is just kind of standing, the character should look like it’s standing,
and it should look like it’s alive even just standing there in that static pose.
If your surface detail is static, you’re going to ruin everything you worked for underneath.
That’s actually one of the biggest issues that I have with all the CG kind of stuff that’s out there.
Guys will lay a flat texture over their whole design and just ruin it.
I don’t get it. No artistry and no thought, you just flatten out your image.
Everything is kind of spinning around, and I’m accenting this eye hole with the surrounding surface,
the eye bag I guess is a better way to say it.
I don’t imagine this being a hole like it would be for a simian type of character.
See, now that I’ve done all this. Now I’m looking at what I did on the other side.
Even though it’s just indicated as I left it, I still want it to have a cool vibe of motion.
I’m just trying to break up this whole surface now. I’m going through it. I’m standing back and looking at it.
The reason I’m concentrating here is because for the purposes of this demo also.
I have one area at least completed, but I’m going to hit the whole thing.
What this does is it helps to give me a good description of what I’m going to do for the rest of the character.
It’s not like I have this thing sitting in front of me and I’m just drawing the model right in front of me.
I’m making this guy up in my head
So, in every way I need to know what kind of surface language—I have to design that.
I have to design the structure first then the surface.
Then what kind of choices I’m making with lighting to describe all of this.
There is a lot that has to be invented every time you design something.
That’s why I’m working on one specific area here, to get that down.
I’m learning this design by working in this area. Then I’ll start, you know, traveling down and finishing this guy.
The reason you sometimes end up doing variations is because there are choices that you make, that you think,
oh wouldn’t it have been cool if I had done this. Like for example, I closed this guy completely off.
Meaning that you can’t see underneath inside.
Maybe I would have wanted to open that up and had an open mouth kind of a thing.
In some ways it’s typical to have this big open mouth of a screaming monster kind of a thing,
and designing something benign is much more difficult and still to have it interesting and benign all at the
same time. It’s actually much harder to do.
It’s easy to draw something really angry and show all this filigree and stuff.
You get lost in it. But it’s hard to design something benign. I’m throwing you guys this way because this
is a harder thing to do. You can go back and draw something with the open maw and the screaming kind
of, you know, mouth and teeth and all that sort of thing. That’s easy stuff.
That gives you a really point of interest too. Everyone will be looking right at the mouth,
but with this they really have to look at, you know, cause there is no screaming mouth.
Telling them, look at me. Look at this.
That’s why you look at old masterpieces like paintings and sculptures and it’s all about the form,
or the painting is about the lightning and how they handled the color. Beautiful painting, and there’s not a lot
of action, and you sit there and you’re mesmerized, and you’re looking at the whole thing.
Maybe you’re guiding your eye with the lighting and/or with the color, however they choose to do it.
But there are no screaming characters. There is nothing screaming at you telling you to look at it.
They drive your eye. I mean, it’s harder, like is said, to design something benign.
I just had an idea of something. I was looking at the lighting and the way that this fainted blue that will
kind of smear was working, and in my mind created these shapes with breakup of the form here.
I’m thinking I want to do…
and also what is this structure going to really be?
You can’t just wing it. You’ve got to know or at least maybe you don’t know, but you have to design it.
You can’t just lazily leave it and throw it out to the wind and hope someone else sorts it out.
Then you start a chain reaction of people not caring.
If you can’t do the job then you shouldn’t do the job. That’s what I say.
Okay, so this is a gland on top here that I’m thinking about. That’s why I’m leaving that alone.
This is the arm area. There is a perspective thing going on here. See this thickness?
It can’t be thinner. That has to be the thickest volume. That means I have to bring this
volume down so I have a flow going on.
This will be the division on this guy.
I had to make sure that these two, since I wanted the center line or the side breakup of the bottom to the top
to flow and come down this way,
so I had a line of motion I was talking about earlier with all this stuff down here. If I’m going to do that,
then I know that this is going to come over, but my volumes were getting squashed and weird,
and I don’t like the flow. So if I do that then I have to adjust all my distances to read in perspective
and the perspective that I’m designing here. See how there is a pinch going on right here? That doesn’t work.
See this? Thick here and there is a pinch.
That means that this is not going to work either. Problem solving.
With this Prismacolor I usually take it down first with a kneaded eraser like I’ve been doing and then use
like a Pink Pearl or stronger eraser. If you go straight in with the Pink Pearl with this kind of pencil it’ll smear it all
over the place and stain your paper. Make it really difficult to clean up afterwards.
This still leaves, obviously, I mean you can see all the staining from this pencil because this is a really strong,
this wax is really strong when it lays down.
You’re still going to have it, but it’s not going to, I don’t know,
I still like having the construction lines underneath, so it works for me.
If I have this guy going over, around like that…
which means I have to fix this too.
See, people thought I didn’t erase. Look at how much I erased here. Yeah, see that’s going to work.
This volume here will look good, kind of like a shoulder, I guess.
I’m not sure I like that. That, you know, we’ll see if I stay there. I’m thinking about the motion; it’s what
I’m not liking, and that’s, you know, you can get stuck on that. I’m not going to do that.
That’s why I had a problem with this area, you know what I mean?
I think I know what I’m going to do. Okay.
I’m letting it all hang out here.
As I tell you, sometimes I’ll go into a design—like I said before, I mean I think I said it earlier here,
and I’ll work it and work it in. It just ain’t working, and I throw it away. No matter how long I’ve worked on it.
With Photoshop you can scan it and then fix it and then keep on trying different things, and you’ll never have any
surface abrasion because it’s digital. You just go straight to white. I more likely would do that than
throw it away now. I will save it and fix it digitally.
I have to scan the image anyways to send it in to the client.
Alright, now I feel better about that.
Simplifying all my hits.
I’m thinking that right in between these tentacles is going to be these little kind of tails.
Just to add some flair only there and on the far side so you wouldn’t even see that one.
This guy says this is the center of the back.
And the area of collision for these two tentacles, legs…
Give it some space. That means that these guys will probably be thinner than these guys…eh, maybe.
So right now what I’m doing is I’m actually standing back
and looking at this whole thing and trying to think of what I need to do.
Right now I’m focusing on the subdivisions of all these tentacles coming off these legs
because these are the arms, these two guys right here.
And now we have some, you know, head to shoulders.
We have a torso and we have these legs now. Then these little things in between, that’s just the dressing.
And I’m trying to think of how to mimic say the legs
and the way that these things kind of fit into things that we know.
I’m going through quite a bit actually here in my head, and that’s why I get quiet.
So, say, this would be the thigh kind of area.
Up here I’m calling this the shoulder area. This is a thigh.
There is that volume. There is that subdivision right here.
Give the illusion of strength.
You know, you look at an octopus, octopi, they look,
they give the illusion that there is all this muscle in there moving this thing around.
But there is no skeleton inside of there, so there is nothing really. It is strong.
If it can flatten itself out and do all kinds of stuff.
I love that. It’s just such a good contrast, opposites working together.
The strength and flexibility of whatever that volume is, I mean.
Cool stuff. And I’m wanting to bring that in here, more of the strength.
Alright, so we know that that’s the top. We know that that’s the belly.
I’m going to bring this, here’s the side subdivision in there,
which means that this line has to go somewhere, this subdividing line on this torso.
There it is
I’m just trying to plan the rest of these guys out with what I know I want to do.
I mean as far as the, well, I mean I kind of designed it already right here with this guy,
so now I’m also thinking about maybe these two center guys being totally different.
Not totally different but a little different than these two others here.
These guys already have their arms, these two legs, and then these two centers can be completely different.
I will do that.
Spin that guy around. That looks cool.
Okay and then this guy is coming from the inside going away from us.
He’s going away and then maybe it goes out, then maybe
it’s coming back a little then going back away.
Yeah, okay so this guy is coming out at us, going away, flattening out.
That’s when I draw the straight line. I’m drawing the lines of undulation—
I’m sorry—going back and forth or in and out, out towards us.
Out, going back away and then flattening out.
And this guy, let’s see…
you can just have him...
a little more,
like it’s just really pushing out a little bit. I mean it should still have some in and out.
Let’s see, where will this guy go? Let’s see. If that one is going that way, let’s do the opposite.
here because I filled up this whole page. I’m imagining, say if you have your point
of origin, the head, for all these guys and what that negative space is going to be between
all these tentacles and this space right in between each tentacle. That’s what I’m
sitting here thinking about. In this view it’s not that easy. I go off into my head
trying to imagine what all that is.
Not an easy thing to word.
Put the eyes up here.
Anyway, this space in between each of these tentacles. I’m going off the page
But I think… I think I have this working. He says. We shall see. I think I do.
I’m pretty sure.
Alright, this is the lighting that I’ll probably end up using too. You see where I
got really hot? I’m pushing down here. That’s going to be where the energy is kind of, you
know, it’s pulling out from it. It’s coming out from these spots right here.
Like the skid marks of the hot rod. This center line would be like that.
There we go.
I need to go straight to the Pink Pearl here.
Let’s see, is that strong enough right there? Yeah.
And that one. That one is talking. Yeah. See, they’re all individuals. These are all little
individual personalities, so you’re designing all these little separate personalities. You
know, this is a big drawing. I mean if you’re drawing like a 14 x 17 you move through this
a lot quicker, but the problem solving will be exactly the same. You still have to go
through the process. If you don’t, it’s going to show.
I saw a sculpture by Simon Lee where he had some tentacles on there, but those are pretty
cool. It just had a lot of personality. But again, like I said, usually people draw these
really stubby looking little things. There is no flow. There is no personality.
Let’s take all this down so I can draw this stuff now. The kneaded eraser. You can see it’s
taking it all down, all these work lines.
People always tell me that they can’t erase
this pencil, and so they don’t like to use Prismacolor for drawing. And the thing is,
you’re probably drawing really dark straight out of the gate, and you’re not mapping
out your design and taking your time. You just want to get straight to it.
Well, I mean if you’re going to go that dark.
There is a way to break that up actually. Even if you go really dark and you go straight
in really, really black, that’s when you use the alcohol. But I’m not going to do
that here. I’ll show you in another demo how to use the alcohol to take down all that black.
Say if you start off and go straight into drawing that dark, the whole drawing
is just all these dark lines. You can still use it. If you take the alcohol and just wash
it all the way down and let it dry. Then you come back with an eraser and pull out all
your lights. It’s a really fun way to draw. I love drawing that way too. I’ll do a demo
of that one. I’m saying it here. I’ll do that. That means I put myself on the spot to do it.
Okay, so the arms. Let’s give these guys some...
These are not surface. This is breaking the forms up right here. But even this
should have motion. And since these things don’t have any anatomical or anthropomorphic
anatomy, per se, it’s like twisting a tube.
I mean, anything will twist like this.
I mean the bone limits any of this kind of stuff from happening because you can’t really
twist it. If you twist your arms, all the muscles are spitting around the pipe.
I’m just going over and sharpening this arm out. I’ll probably spend some time
here now designing this guy and trying to make him, give him a different design, say,
than what these guys are going to be. And even these guys are going to be divided too.
We’re going to have the outside legs different than the center legs just to give everybody
a different function, breaking up the design so everything is not the same.
done a day. That way getting anything more than that means that I’m not resolving a
lot of design problems. I’m just trying to get volume out. Volume is good but only
if it makes sense and the work actually makes sense. If the work is not nonsense, which
is hugely the case when people move that fast and try to get a lot more work done, you know,
it’s a useless effort. Better to concentrate on what you’re doing. Take your time, and
then when you’re presenting every single image that you’re presenting to the client,
it’s something that you would want to make rather than just presenting them with the
volume of ideas for the purposes of having ideas presented. I don’t get that kind of
thinking. There is a majority of people that work that way, and I don’t understand.
I mean, I don’t do that. I only present stuff that I want to make.
Some days I’ll produce almost nothing. I have a lot of drawings on my desk but nothing that I like.
Now that there are so many more films that have been made, it’s not like it was say,
you know, back in the early 90s where there was an open—I mean, it was open. There was
nothing that had really been, there was stuff that was done, but there wasn’t a huge catalog
of films that were, say, creature-driven. Nothing that was like, say, the first Men
in Black film; there was nothing like that.
Now with games and fil out there and all this design
work and illustration work that has exploded on the scene that is of this subject matter
there is a lot that’s been done. And so it takes even more thought and more time to
more time to come up with something unique. I would imagine that it would produce even less if you’re really
trying to produce something unique. Two a day? Two images a day is good.
If you're doing that, you’re covered. Just make sure that they sing.
What I mean by that is that they are good.
I just want to give this guy some structure here underneath a little bit more. I like
all this surface stuff that’s going on. I want there to be even more.
Anyway, the illusion of some sort of anatomy of anthropomorphic anatomy even.
That’s what I’m going to do here.
Here we go.
You’re inventing everything, right? From nothing?
You don’t have any reference, which I do not. I don’t gather reference images. I didn’t gather
any reference from this. I had a vague idea in my head before I came in this morning,
as I said earlier. And you just start making stuff up as you’re going. There is nothing
that I’m referencing. I don’t have pictures or anything. I’m not looking at anything.
This is just all made up stuff here.
So, when you present your stuff to the client all you have is the final drawing, and he
does not see all the fight that you went through to get there, which can sometimes be a massive
battle. Others, there is nothing that happened, and they’re completely mesmerized.
Then you work really hard they just turn away and don’t even look at what you give them.
The ones that you fight for the least are appreciated the most because they’re probably the most average.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s good to get your work approved by the client. You want the
clients to like what you give them. It’s never been my—how should I say this?
It's never been the goal for me personally to get people to like what I do necessarily.
I mean you want people to like that, and then that’s why it’s a hard thing to describe, but I
think you understand what I’m talking about if you’re a creative person. You don’t
want to deliver something that is so average that is easily digested that people get it.
You want to give them something that they haven’t seen before. What that means is
that they haven’t seen it before, and they don’t know how to accept what you are showing
them. Sometimes they just flat-out won’t accept it. It’s just too different from
what they were expecting, what they’ve seen. And to go there, to be able to design something
that is completely—well, even if it’s vaguely, just slightly off from the norm,
that’s enough to sometimes throw everyone off. Our arms go flying up in the air, but
that means you’re designing with no reference, really. You’re just flying on a rocket strapped
to your back and you’re just flying. Flailing around in space. That’s what I like.
I’d rather be the guy pushing it, pushing the design and getting all the approvals.
Although, with approvals means you get, you’re viewed as very successful.
You have to acknowledge what you’re giving up.
But to me, like I said, I really enjoy being the guy
that pushes the design rather than just meeting the requirements solely. I want to take what
they’re asking me to do and try something else and mix it up.
You can see that I’m skipping around here, and I’ll do that.
Now, as I’m starting to hone everything
in, I’m going to be skipping around and going back and forth. I may work back and
forth here before I even get over here.
Now they have to equal out and speak to each other.
There is a little cross-hatching going on there just because it helps me to describe
the form better, rather than just sitting around and drying with the side of your pencil.
Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes you need to mix it up. And I do that a lot.
The way that I draw like that is my own modified version of that, of straight cross-hatching,
which is just back and—essentially it’s like two rakes going over each other. I like
to mix that and pull it right over the form, and then what that evolves into is this chaos
rendering, which this scribbling kind of render. What that can turn into is more of a blend.
These all kind of go into each other. You can move back and forth between these three
types of, you know, rendering techniques, and they work perfect with each other.
Here is an example of me modifying my—probably somewhere in here between these
two, standard cross-hatching and scribbling version of cross-hatching. And it’s going
back and forth between these three types here.
There is no reason why. You just do it.
It's the feeling that you have. This is the part where you have to start making personal choices
and why you choose to draw the way that you draw. Drawing is personal. There are techniques
to learn, you know, which I’m showing you three versions of how I cross-hatch here and
move my pencil around. That’s a technical thing right there. Now, why you choose to
work in one area in either one of these ways is up to you.
That’s where you have to make the choice.
Different version of cross-hatching there.
of all these primary shapes down here.
I’ve been screwing around with this whole area.
Breaking up these little areas here. It looks like I’m scribbling, but actually I’m drawing right around all these
little forms in here and trying to keep them clear at the same time that I’m
going over and blending stuff together.
I’m kind of working in circles here.
I want to have more volume.
I’m trying to decide what I’m going to do here as part of a…as a detail to separate these.
Push that back, forward. Some back.
Just describing the center vein here or the lines on the side. Say if this is the bottom, these two veins that
would bulge out. This is the bottom, looking straight down the bottom,
these little veins that go on the side that I’m putting here.
That’s what this guy is. This is like the bottom of that vein.
She’s off to the side.
There it is.
I don’t know why I decided to do this. I just felt like it looked dead there, and it needed more life,
and so I thought I’d break up the form with kind of ripples of angst.
I don’t know if that makes any sense to you guys,
but I hope it does because it’s the only way I know how to describe it.
Now we can move onto this guy here in the torso.
Sometimes I draw something down, and then I erase it to get a good texture out of the surface.
You get all these lines going everywhere, and it’s, I don’t know.
Something about it actually makes it more interesting than…
I’m thinking of these lines that are going in contrast to these actual tension lines. These are creases that are
leftover that are really, really embedded in the surface.
They are still there even though the tension is being pulled away.
It’s kind of like some leather bags. You see contrasting lines going across it.
Even though the lines aren’t being compressed like this, here is the torso and this is the arm.
Even though it’s out here and say it’s even being pulled. These lines, see look at how embedded that is.
It’s just there because it happens so often that that’s not going to go away. That’s what I was thinking about with this.
It’ll be kind of cool to have that.
There is no segregation going on here.
I need everybody to feel like we’re part of the same family, so I make little, what might not look like anything,
it’s a variation of what I did over here. Then I have to make sure that things are still all happening at the same
time, even though I kind of started to go after this a little bit more than the rest of it.
There is the center vein. Pull it up and around here.
Make it more dynamic.
I want this one tentacle, this outer one, which will be these two, to be different than say this,
and then these two have also their own thing going on.
I’m trying to, I’m thinking of a different type of pad here.
Now I’m working on the direction that I decided back when I was mapping out, that this was going to come out
a little—or straight actually— and then it was going to dive away
and then start to turn back.
Out towards us, then away, then straight out again.
Just kind of a hint of the subdivision of these forms.
So, we’ve got that guy. I’ve got that guy.
And now let’s design this guy. Which one am I going to go with? Let’s just go with that one.
And this one I think I’m going to give a bigger paddle at the tip.
And this one will be—see, the belly is coming out on the bottom, so we’ll see the underside over that panel.
So there it is.
Okay, so now I know what that’s going to be. Now let me go up here and design a little bit.
I don’t know if this is going to work, but we’ll try it.
I didn’t think about this before I looked over here. I just looked at these shapes right here,
and it looks like I need a hole here.
Not unlike an octopus. Squids have little breathing holes.
They have to project all that propulsion.
But octopi have those little vents on the sides of their heads, and I think that’s where I’m getting this from.
You know, it’s got that vibe about it.
I’ve decided to put little portals here. Yeah, it looks all right.
I’m just trying to make this work without it looking added-on.
And that’s the way it goes. I’m going to continue making minor little adjustments as I go along.
This can go on for—honestly, it can go on for days, but I don’t have days here.
I prefer to have days.
I don’t like to work by the hour when I work for clients, but for the purposes of the demo,
I am working pretty fast here
in that I didn’t plan this out all and didn’t spend any time thinking about it prior to me drawing.
Sometimes people just go at it, and I do too at times,
but you kind of put a bunch of different designs, but to be perfectly honest I prefer to make everything.
I would like everything to make sense. I’d like to work it out. I’m not talking about rendering the image.
I’m talking about working out all the, you know the problems of this, say, specifically this character.
I want to work all this stuff out and make sure that it works so I would know what it would look like
in the front and the back, you know what I mean?
What kind of torso it had, you know, in the portals.
I imagine that this is going to get made. Even though it’s not going to, that’s the way I approach all this stuff.
It’s real. As I’m thinking about it, I’m thinking about this thing being realized,
and it’s hard for me to let that go.
That’s why it’s so difficult for me to just illustrate an image. It just doesn’t work for me.
I can’t get rid of that part of me that wants to make sure that all the little things work
and that this thing would look really cool if you were to see it moving in front of you.
What all those volumes would look like in the cut-a-ways.
So you see like the dead-on view, side view. You want to know that all these things are working.
I mean, in addition to whatever this guy is. Who is this that you’re designing here?
What are you drawing? I mean this guy looks like he’s a little bit—he doesn’t look really aggressive.
He looks a little bit scared, actually.
Okay, so now we've got this guy to do.
Okay, now I can continue. It’s one of those guys.
I thought they were just these little in-betweeners. I thought they were looking a little stiff.
Right here is the center of the back.
I’m hitting this and I’m standing back away from my table to look at this thing from far away.
It’s a good thing to practice. I mean, it works for me. I mean people do things differently.
Maybe they just have their drawing table lower.
I prefer to stand back because you want it to look good from far away.
I mean if people can really get your image from far away that means your primaries are solid.
Also, it means you have control over your subdivisions because they are not competing for attention.
All your primaries are still in focus, and all your secondary, your divisions,
all your subdivisions, all your secondary forms aren’t competing through, you know, you’ve taken your time
and you’ve designed them so they’re there, but they’re not competing with all the primary shapes.
To me, that’s really hard to do. Some people don’t looking at work that way.
They think it looks too simple, but the best design in the world, in my opinion,
and I know I’m right, is the simple stuff.
Let’s see, so there’s my center. Going back to this again.
I’m just looking at the transition between this here, the base of this tentacle and this form here,
and I’m being careful so I don’t screw up this transition. I want it to be interesting,
but I don’t want to screw up what’s already there. And so I’m being very careful about it.
See how I don’t want any of this stuff to go flat, and that’s why I was being very, and I’m still sorting this out.
That’s why I’m being very careful. I get extra careful in areas that I see that there is something really interesting
going on, and then I know I have to resolve it even more.
But you don’t want to flatten out what’s already there, so you have these volumes that are pretty cool.
You have this volume here that’s pretty cool.
You don’t want there to be some weird flattening out of those two volumes, but there has to be a transition,
so you have to design it. Or the overlapping say of this over this structure here.
What is that structure? I mean is it a—so is this.
It doesn’t have a rib cage. There is no rib cage here.
But you can still work within that structure even if it’s all soft.
In your mind’s eye, you can see an event or hard piece and design around that.
You have some sort of structure in your head that you’re working around,
and so you retain some sort of symmetry. If you don’t do this, imagine specifically for this rib cage area,
if I didn’t have this in my head, this thing would be a physical mess. There would be not structure.
With this overlapping tentacle, see, this is what I’m looking at right here.
It’s that structure overlapping on top of this.
That’s the simple view of what that is. Maybe it’s actually more like this. That shape is that.
Let’s soften some of this stuff up now that we know what we’re doing here.
Cotton ball is a good—like I just erased this area.
If I went directly back into it with this pencil it would be like slight grain leftover from the eraser,
so I usually have a cotton—this is a pad, you know—just to go over the surface once in a while
to make sure that it’s all nice and smooth.
are the wrinkle lines from this shoulder piece pushing back.
There is the vein, comes from the center of the tentacle, through the body up into the arm.
Let’s put this guy in now, finally.
Now I’m just making choices here. Creative choices that are all over the place and nothing
really related to anything other than me imagining what the flesh of an octopus is and the surface skin.
Not that this is even an octopus because it really is not an octopus.
It’s an anthropomorphized kind of version of that.
One that I can tell you is that I’m referencing the way that that surface, I mean the octopus, it’s skin,
the way it kind of breaks up and groups together in these forms. You know with the way that the water pushes it around,
the way that it wrinkles and all that sort of thing. I’m thinking of that. Even though this character looks a lot
tighter than say an octopus would, I’m still referencing that. Honestly, that’s about it.
I’m just kind of going with the way that I feel the forms are leading me. Nothing else.
Honestly, this is all I ever do. I don’t pull out reference when I work unless I am working on a movie
that asks for a specific animal, say a giant gorilla (Mighty Joe Young), or this movie that I worked on
many years ago that never happened called Jumanji 2. Jumanji 2 was asking for one animal mixed with another,
so I would reference those animals. But honestly, I never do that when I work
unless there is some creature that has to look like a certain animal.
I’m just tapping it back and forth. This is a sticky eraser so it just pulls the image.
It pulls the pencil off the paper.
I memorized things by staring at animals.
Honestly, if I did use a reference for animals it would end up looking like that animal,.
and that’s my issue with people that use animal reference for their creatures.
There is something about their stuff that ends up looking like an animal that I’ve seen before,
and it doesn’t look unique. It tends to lean more towards the reference than more towards the imagination
or the imagined character. It should lead more towards the imagined character than whatever reference that you
have, even if it’s this thing here. It’s kind of like an octopus, but it’s not an octopus.
It’s an invented creature here, but based on that.
But, it leans more toward the imaginative than say the living animal.
If you put them side by side and you have this thing here versus an octopus with the eyes up on top,
it’s all head, you know, all the tentacles.
This looks more like it’s got like a man kind of a thing versus that. I have that in my head though.
I know what that guy looks like. I’ve stared at this guy enough and love it enough to know what it is and what
not to do and all these little things that it’s going on.
I didn’t want to make an octopus.
You can go to the nature channel or whatever and see one if you really want to see one.
Just working this transition out still.
Okay, let’s get this guy going over here.
This one is going away from me. You can see how actually drawing even all my marks here,
they’re all overlapping each other, going away. I would suggest actually, for a lot of you that are starting out,
which is for whom these demos are for, that you touch clay.
Even if you’re a modeler. If you’re a modeler and you’re watching this, and you think you understand 3D because
your work in digital 3D, you don’t understand 3D. You need to touch it and make that part of your
understanding of how you approach things even in the two-dimensional world, which is yours.
Yours is still a two-dimensional virtual 3D world, but it’s not real 3D.
You need to wrap your mind around the idea of 3D. For me, I’m imagining that this thing is going into this space
as I’m working here because I’ve touched clay and I understand where that is going, and I can’t shake it.
I’m imagining this is a form and not just a bunch of lines here. I’m imagining this as an actual form.
There is the center vein.
It’s the squid man with a jet pack.
Man-ish. Not really a man.
Let’s get this guy down.
Yep, that’s it.
Like a little fist.
It’s the key to his expression. While you guys are looking over here, I’m looking right here.
All good. I know what I’m doing here.
This one is going towards us and then away and then flattening out.
One thing that you have to have to be able to do this kind of work is the ability to just stay in it
because this requires a lot of patience.
And a lot of—sorry, I know this is going to sound corny—but it does require a lot of love for what you’re doing.
I absolutely love what I do.
I love all this stuff. I love being able to just sit and draw.
I wish I could just it for myself and make a living doing that, and I wouldn’t be slack.
But, that’s just not an option. People don’t pay you to just sit around and just draw for yourself.
That’s a cool twist.
Let’s get some of that over here.
Just dividing all this stuff up now. Trying to resolve everything and get this guy pushed out so we don’t lose
you guys in the length of this demo. But, I have to tell you, this is what it takes. It’s not fast.
There is no magic that happens here. It’s real work. And it does take a long time.
I see people posting their super-fast, like 15-second sketches all over Facebook. And it cracks me up
because there is a lot of flash there, Photoshop, flash; there is nothing there. Do not get mesmerized by all
the flash and all the, you know, it’s great color, great values are there, but there is absolutely nothing there.
It’s just a painting. There is nothing to be made there. You can’t make it. There is nothing.
By you guys not knowing what you’re seeing and just liking the hell of it, you guys are just hugging each other
over the little things that you’re doing there, you guys perpetuate—and I’m saying you guys—
but, whoever you are—are perpetuating this lack of understanding.
There is so much attention given to that, that people think that is actually good, and it’s not.
And I don’t care how beautiful it looks. If you can’t make it, it’s not good for production.
You can’t argue with me that it’s concept work because concept work, coming up with ideas, you have to be able
to make it. If you present something and they love it, and people have to make it, do you understand what
you’ve done? The production will have to re-engineer that thing and try to make it work, and that can cost
a studio a year of work of trying to sort that out. I’m not even exaggerating.
I’ve been on one project where they turned in a design of this blu-ish creature.
I don’t want to say too much. That thing, I swear, between myself and a modeler, we could’ve had that
thing blocked out and ready for animation tests within a month.
It took them maybe 6 months to get to that point when they presented another design that did not work.
It just did not work. It was ridiculous. It wasn’t thought out.
It was just illustrated without any thought about what the mechanics were,
or thought about how it work in the shot and how all the things functions, all its parts.
They had to re-engineer that design, and it took them 18 months to fix.
And you know what was interesting, it ended up getting closer and closer to the original design that I presented
to them, but it took them 18 months to get there. I’m just saying.
Don’t fall in love with the speed. Fall in love with the process and love it.
Speed will come naturally because you know what you’re doing.
Then sometimes you work fast and sometimes you won’t.
Take the time to learn every single design that you’re presenting. Learn it.
It may make you a more temperamental designer though, because you actually care.
Then when they reject it you’ll get emotionally affected, but you know, that’s okay.
Let’s pull that guy out. Push this one behind.
All these little details are lightly indicated here.
That can keep on going on this thing for, honestly, for a day and a half.
That’s what I would probably require for me to get down with all this little filigree,
but I think you get the idea anyways. There it is.
So, I hope you enjoy that. There is a lot being talked about. You can see all the searching that I did with this
one. It was all about rhythm. There is a lot of rhythm and form playing together.
Beautiful to look at, and for a lot of you that don’t know what you’re looking at, you’re probably working at those
two working together. That’s what you’re admiring so much about the piece that you’re looking at,
when it comes to looking at characters or anything really living, a sculpture even, watch it over again.
See if you can apply any of those things to your own stuff. Until next time.
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview46sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. Lay-in and Designing Initial Eye Structure14m 25s
3. Completing the General Head Structure14m 33s
4. Determining the Action17m 43s
5. Final Details of the Head14m 16s
6. Describing the First Form13m 34s
7. Completing the "Shoulder" Region and Describing Remaining Forms18m 7s
8. Detailing the Upper Form12m 19s
9. Rendering the Upper Form16m 12s
10. Final Details of Upper Form and Beginning the "Torso" Area15m 11s
11. Adding Design to Forms and Body14m 14s
12. Resolving the Body/Upper Form Transition15m 22s
13. Adding Additional Design to Forms15m 6s
14. Finishing Touches12m 59s