Hello and Welcome to this Concept Art Tutorial on creating the Workshop Creature Bust with Tim Von Rueden.
Software: Photoshop CS5
Total Time: 5 1/2 hours
Brushes: Standard Circles Brushes, Chalk Brush, Speckle Brush (Included in the “Download Source Files” for citizen members)
Here are the brushes I used for this Workshop Creature Bust and you can Download them in the “Download Source Files” above
Jonathan first approached me in early August about a few projects he would like me to create for his upcoming workshops. As I looked through the different concept pieces on the to-do list, the “Creature Bust” was the topic that intrigued my attention the most! He dropped me some reference images and I was more than excited to get started on them the next day.
The purpose of the concept was to show off sculpting in 3d. As a concept artist you have to remember that this is not only a concept to please yourself, but your modeler as well! I took this as a challenge to show off the different surfaces areas I could create with a creature. Since doing my first creature concept from last year, I have been curiously excited about creature concept art and how much fun the process is for me to create them.
Using the CoCo_Basics_01 Brush, I went off and threw down some initial sketches of creatures and would hopefully get some good ideas out of the bunch as seen below. I would use this brush for most of the concept even through till the end.
I didn’t feel too strongly with any of the initial sketches so i stripped the creature bust bare of anything distracting and just took the head silhouette and played with that instead. It was at this point that I started looking up animal reference from rams and buffalos for horn references. I was intending on going with a less intimidating creature with a light purple layout but instead i went with a more neutral, almost horrific looking creature with a slightly saturated gray. When it came to the face, I was thinking the look would resemble the creatures from the Resistance games, but then I took to a more fantasy approach with my reference coming from Pan’s Labyrinth, and the beautiful designs that the Pan creature had.
The chalk brush was being used for the texture and I would create that look by making the brush a very large size and then gently pushing down on the tablet for a subtle approach. There was also a conflict I ran into in decided what teeth he would have. I wanted to avoid the scary focus with some blocky looking teeth but it just didn’t look right. So instead I looked at a lion’s mouth to see the different shaping and placement of the teeth. The Rim light was added by just selecting white and moving around the outside edge of the create placing it as I saw it needed to be placed. The string like hairs are an easy touch of detail that can be created by just doing some quick brushstrokes of white away from the body.
For those extra touches of detail and refinement I selected a speckle brush to create some freckles/moles on him along with some extra body hair from the chin to his chest. After some color overlays of gold, orange, and blue, I threw down a quick background and called this one done. I named him Christian and I saw him as a blind beast guardian.
Even though i was proud of the way the first concept came out, there were some perspective issues and ultimately, we agreed that I should give it another go.This is something that happens all the time in the industry. You can be so proud of a concept that you spent a lot of hours exclusively working on. But most times you are working for someone else, whether it be your boss or a client. Instead of feeling pity for yourself, you see this as a learning opportunity and another chance to create an awesome piece of art and take what you learned from the first one and build upon it.
If anything I looked at this as another creature bust I get to create, but for this one I was out to prove to myself that I can create something better. As I took to this concept flow I decided to break it down into many different steps so that I could continue to receive feedback from Wes and Jay along the way. I started out with the notion that I was going to create something more aquatic or reptilian rather than beastly looking. This was to separate this concept piece from the previous one and to give me something new to try my skills on.
Also the approach was for a less intimidating creature and rather go forward with a cuter more approachable beast. So I choose the wide-eyed Disney like head structure and looked at examples like Stitch and Fizz from League of Legends.
The first concept sketch was chosen and I decided to lay on some colors early on to create a mood for myself to work upon. Being a sea creature I immediately grabbed for cool colors and looked at hues of aquamarine and light blue. Since I didn’t want to follow the generic trend of giving aquatic looking creatures a blue toned skin, I reached for the opposite and made him a stark scarlet. There was a lot of experimentation at this point in the concept and it took me a while to find something that just “stuck”.
I would lay down colors and mess with the hues in the Hue/Saturation settings under Image Adjustments. It wasn’t until I began desaturating the image that I saw something come together. I have found that neutral colors tend to be easier to work with and also enhance the more saturated lively colors in your piece. From this conception process I have learned to rely on my neutral palette when my colors are not flowing well together. So I now had a color foundation and I was ready for the refinements! I also gave the creature a gray outline around the entire creature’s head to add focus to the silhouette and make the head pop more and stand out from the background.
With starting the details I played with adding circular spots scattered on him and different variations of the nose. I ended up going with an inspiration from when I was younger and referenced the Andalite nose from the Animorph book series. I also created an autumn colored background to compliment the colors that I used throughout him. I also start building up the scales on him even though I originally wanted to stay clear of them because of how tedious drawing scales can be.
One of my favorite tricks to add value is selected a pure white and add simple almost minuscule touches. This will add reflected specular highlights to round any shapes out and add value. Just Do not overuse this trick or else your piece can start to look like plastic or over shined.
As you can see, I decided that the scaly look was what I continued with, and looking back I’m glad I stuck with that idea. For the webbing I went with a more “see through” look to them and this can be done very easily. Using just the eraser tool, i would softly erase the inside of the webbing revealing the background gray color underneath. I then added a vein-like pattern throughout for that extra hint of interest. I used yellow with the speckle brush and brushed on the webbing to give it a shine in contrast to the skin of the creature.
For the teeth I drew up some thin needle like teeth throughout to add more of a scary factor in contrast with the cutesy look he had. After talking with Jonathan I realized that since he would have to sculpt each individual strand, we decided that simpler teeth would work much easier. I went with a basic reptilian looking teeth set which also made him look less like a frog and more like a small lizard or anole, which is what I wanted.
The chest was also a conflict area and I tried out different patterns and even tried more humanoid looking features.This is where I had to think about the creatures anatomy and how this would be anatomically correct.
After cleaning up the concept to a point I could consider it done, I created an animation sample to help him see how this creature would move and how he would look from different perspectives. I always imagined his head and neck would function like that of Toothless from How to Train your Dragon. Even simple sketches like these can prove to be quite valuable for a modeler in understanding how your concept works.
Once we reached a point where we could call it finished I decided to put it aside for a week and to not think about it or view it. Sometimes I find when I am in the closing process of a piece, I tend to try and finish it quickly so I can move on to the next one. This can be a negative influence on the final process since this is the time that you can really make your art work shine. So after a week, I came back to this concept and I had a refreshed mind and thought process of how to attack finishing this.
I decided to approach this like a Dave Rapoza piece. Even though I wouldn’t grime it up with detail, I admire his lighting and atmosphere he creates with his portrait pieces.
I added a darker presence to his face and gave an intense orange light from the left side. This would round out the values in his face some more and add the color from his webbing to the front of his face, bringing it all together. I also added veins that could be seen under his skin surface for some more realism touches. I did this by using a dark purple brush and pushing about halfway while drawing the veins on. I added some purple overlays as well but not too much to take away from the main color selections but just to compliment the orange and yellow hues.
I enjoyed the way this creature bust turned out and even though it was tough to abandon the first concept, if I hadn’t have done that then I wouldn’t have this second concept at all. Sometimes you learn as a concept artist that times like this will come up but it is up to you to rise to the challenge and look at it as a learning experience rather than a failed concept. The brushes I used are in the download resources link on the top.
Thanks for checking out this written tutorial on creating the Creature Workshop Bust. If you have any comments or questions feel free to leave them in the section below!