Designing Radish Spirits

My last reveal from the Miyazaki show are radish spirits. I have always loved Spirited Away. It's sort of a "comfort food" movie for me. One of my favorite characters is the Radish Spirit. He/she is so peculiar and odd. The character has always stood out to me. So, I knew I wanted to illustrate the iconic design straight from the film. 

That said, I also wanted to put my own spin on the name "Radish Spirit". I assume that the traditional Radish spirit from Spirited Away is modeled after a daikon radish so I picked two more species to model my own spirits from: The French Breakfast Radish and the Spanish Black Radish. 

All of my work starts as messy scribbles. I like to sketch out roughs in my sketchbook and then move to photoshop where I'll work out the details, proportions and color. 

Here I can sketch rather quickly, trying out colors, shapes and sizes. For these spirits, I wanted them each to occupy a shape: a triangle, a square and a circle. A lot of design in animation is based on overall shapes that describe a character's personality or attributes. Mostly it was an exercise in variation. 

From there, I used my usual method of bringing a digital sketch to finish. I print the image out, lightbox trace it and bring the drawing to finish from there. After that, I will apply color via gouache painting.

For this piece, I wanted the coloration to feel light and airy, similar to what you see in Studio Ghibli's art books. This piece was a fun way to use my creature design muscles for something so established. The original paintings are actually all separate from each other. This lineup was created for a limited edition of prints available at the gallery.  These spirits will be on display at Sketchpad gallery for the remainder of the month. To inquire about seeing the show, contact Sketchpad on Facebook.

Animal & Creature Drawing

 

It's back to school for me. I'm excited to announce that I am teaching a course in Animal & Creature Drawing at Laguna College of Art + Design. I started class about two weeks ago and let me say, It's been an extreme refreshment in animal anatomy.

Go To Books

Go To Books

Nothing like teaching to really make you learn like crazy. We've been visiting a lot of different anatomical studies lately, starting with the horse. I think if there's any animal every artist, illustrator or designer should learn to draw, it's the horse. Everyone I know has had to draw one at least once, for something. They are a huge part of human history and civilization. I've been breaking down the skeleton and muscle systems these last couple weeks and it's been eye-opening to say the least. 

Skeletons 

Skeletons 

It's always amazing how similar vertebrates are to each other. Comparing human anatomy is a natural way to help understand the different systems and how they work and are put together. It's fascinating how these seemingly complex systems can actually be pretty simple once you break it down. Completing these anatomy diagrams have been huge for me.

Muscle Overlays

Muscle Overlays

For as much as I draw animals and creatures everyday, nothing beats practicing the basics. I'm finding that I understand how things are put together better the more I draw these diagrams and study where things connect. It's been fun and enlightening and I am very much looking forward to learning right along side my students this semester. 

Draw Dinovember

Hey folks! Quick update to share some dinosaur sketches I've been producing in between things. The month of November is about drawing dinosaurs, apparently. The rumor started on twitter and a few of us have had some fun drawing, painting and sculpting dinosaurs.

Styracosaurus - SOLD

It's been a great exercise in learning more about their anatomy and behaviors. I'm having a great time and look forward to more drawing during the month! If you want to participate, be sure to use the hashtag, #DrawDinovember so we can all see your work! Thanks and have fun! 

Camarasaurus

Gryposaurus

Heterodontosaurus

Creature Design Notes - Pinterest Smashup Exercise

When I sit down to work, I tend to warm up by sketching around a bit. If you follow my work, you might be aware of my Tea & Creatures project and I've talked about the importance of warming up before. I thought I'd share a fun exercise that I employ often when I need to warm up quickly and don't have lots of time to spend looking for ideas. 

I'm sure everyone knows what Pinterest is at this point but in case you don't, Pinterest is an organized image bookmarking website. You can bookmark or "pin" images of anything into customized groups called "boards". I find it quite useful for gathering inspirational images, recipes, and gift ideas - it works for many different facets of life. One thing I really enjoy pinning is animal reference. Because these images are seldom high resolution, they aren't really suitable for intensive reference. However, they are great for ideas, inspiration and quick reference! My board, What Inspires Me Most, contains images from science and nature with about 97% of it being animals. I tend to pin images when I'm drinking tea in the morning, at lunch, or when I'm riding the bus - anytime I have a spare moment. 

This particular board isn't really separated into different groups or kingdoms of animals, they are all just sort of tossed together. I did this on purpose. What I end up with is a collage of all different sorts of animal images, right next to one another. It really shows you the differences and the similarities between species at random. It can be fun to just scroll through every now and then.

How does this relate to warming up? I've found that when I just doodle, there's a tendency to incorporate some of the same traits into my designs. I'll always go for forward facing eyes and a leathery hide. It's what I like the most and I think all artists have certain "pieces" of subjects they like to draw over and over.

I use Pinterest to give me a fresh set of traits. It not only switches things up aesthetically, it keeps things exciting and challenging. It's almost like slots. Scroll down on your mouse fast and where ever the webpage lands, pick a few animals in that space and smash them together! I've sketched out two creature portraits below. This can easily be done with quick head concepts like these or full body concepts as well. You can see this particular set of animals came up:

What's fun about keeping your animal reference board sort of unorganized is that you begin to pull from different families and groups of animals for your design. For example, you could combine different birds with fish or reptiles with all sorts of mammals. It begins to open things up and you can begin to find ideas quickly. In the image above you can see four highlighted pins - a mammal, an amphibian and two birds.

You can see I pulled a lot from the tiger in terms of facial structure. I liked the cheek waddle on the pheasant and the cockatoo feather display so I incorporated those into the design. The poison dart frog inspired the color choice and application a bit as well. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 12.55.29 PM.png

Here's another example. you can see I pulled a lot from the turtle in terms of head structure. The iguana played into the neck spines and the rams horns showed up too. The creature's coloration was inspired heavily by the cassowary. 

Smashing up different animals is essentially the essence of what creature design is. You're taking what you know about the natural world and using those traits to create something new and exciting. Using Pinterest is a quick and convenient way to collect inspiration to help fuel new ideas and warmups. Give it a try! It's a lot of fun and a good challenge. 

Here be a Dragon

The daily sketch event, Monster Month, has come to a close. It was so much fun to participate when I could. The final prompt was to draw a dragon so here's my contribution. 

In other news, I'm thinking I might open up a sketch sale this month. I don't tend to sell a lot of originals online so I will have a few drawings up in my store later this month. Stay tuned!