How to design fantasy creatures and coloring methods

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Introduction

In this tutorial we will review the foundations of the conceptual design for fantastic creatures, as well as some tips to make the process a bit easier to achieve and my method of coloring for some elements that make up the monster.
I will be using CLIP STUDIO PAINT PRO and I will detail the brushes that I will use throughout the tutorial.

Concept art I - Monster conception

Before you start drawing, it is necessary to have an initial concept of what kind of monster / creature you will draw. While it is true it is not necessary to have a detailed idea of your monster, it is essential to define what race or skill it will have so that the design is easy to guide.
1) Is it good, evil or neutral?
2) Is it wild, tame or harmless?
3) Is it strong or weak?
These are some basic questions that, depending on the answer, give you a monster typology so it is important to take them into account before drawing.

Conceptual art II - Forms

As I said before, there are several types of magical creatures, of different races and abilities, so it is important to define the kind of creature you will design.

I usually separate them into three categories: rough, semi-curved and curved.

1) Rough, as its name says, are the kind of monsters that have rough, wild and powerful (and even malevolent) complexions. For example, golems, dragons, werewolves and demons belong to this type. In order to draw this kind of creatures it is essential that it be composed of straight lines and sharp shapes. In the example image, I chose to follow the shapes of a porcupine with sharp spiral lines, next to a humanoid-beast shape to give the image that it is a wild and dangerous creature.
2) The semi-curved, are the most suitable in creatures of elegant character, delicate and mostly mysterious. This kind of creatures are composed of semi-curved lines; especially the "S" type figures, since it is one of the most elegant and attractive lines. Although also type "2" figures are equally elegant (Swans and flamingos are a good real example of this kind of shapes)
3) Curves, as you can see in the example image, are the best option for cute and harmless pet-type monsters. They consist of predominantly circles and ovals.

It should be noted that it is possible to combine the types of shapes depending on the concept you have of your monster. I am only separating them by categories to make the explanation visually easier.

(*) Recommendation: Reviewing references of different animals helps a lot in the design process, especially to find the shapes that make them up. Once you find these details it will be easier to define the design.

Personally, I really like fantasy, so I usually draw what I want to see. One of the advantages of fantasy is that there is more freedom of design and it is not necessary to abide by 100% animal anatomy rules

Polishing the sketch - Lineart

I have chosen 1 copy of each type of monster that I classified above. Now we will proceed to detail it.
I usually change the color of the sketch every time I start the inking, so as not to confuse the strokes of the first sketch with the new one.
In [Layer Properties -> Effect -> Layer Color] it is possible to change to the color of your preference.
In this way:

Once the lineart is finished, we deactivate the view of the sketch and it would look like this:

(*) Optional: (Since several people have asked me how I do my linearts) This is a personal opinion but it is not necessary for the lineart to be clean and perfect, since when we turn to coloring we will be able to fix aspects that you did not like .

In any case, this is the brush I used in this example:

https://assets.clip-studio.com/es-es/detail?id=1737930

Coloreo I

First we create a base color layer
Although I usually use [Fill -> Refer to other layers], so that the paint can be applied in closed areas regardless of the layer in which they are located, there is another option to reduce the time even further.
In [Fill -> Close and Fill] you can border the entire figure and the color will automatically be applied.

(You just have to be careful that there are no dashed lines in your lineart or everything will not be colored. Outside of that, it is a very useful tool, especially since I take a long time to fill the base layer)

Then I did the same procedure for the other examples:

(*) Optional: A small trick for the lineart (It can be in Normal layer or Multiply layer) is lowering the opacity around 60% so that the color that is in the layers below is "transferred" to the lineart as a mixture of color. Example:

Coloring II - Monster 1

I will speed up the explanation a bit in this part and I will go to specific things for each example since the coloring process can vary according to your style. (Anyway I will detail at the end of each section the brushes I use)

1) Monster 1 is wild and evil, so I will focus on highlighting its dirty, careless skin and sharp horns and tail

I have chosen to go in shades of degraded gray for the body. From top to bottom I go from light gray to black. Since the elements that highlight the monster are the head and the spikes I can highlight them with black (in contrast to the areas where the color is lighter).

If you are one of those people who always get lost among lots of layers of color (You know, the typical: Base layer + 73256 color layers trimmed) this tool can help reduce them:

[Select the layer to be colored -> Block transparent pixels]

Now you can launch color strokes as many times as you want in the layer and the brush will not leave the base area. I bet those who are used to painting everything in a single layer will like this option.
As you can see in the example image, I only spent 2 layers and the monster ① is almost finished.

These brushes are the ones I used for the body:

https://assets.clip-studio.com/es-es/detail?id=1433807

And this one that I used for the head and spikes (and also the one I will use most for the monsters ② and ③):

https://assets.clip-studio.com/es-es/detail?id=1729478

After retouching some shadows and others (with the brushes attached above) I proceed to give the monster a simple texture (to give it the appearance of having dry and neglected skin). Once we select the area to apply, in [Materials -> Texture -> Dappled cloud]. Drag the texture to the drawing and immediately click [Texture combination] as shown in the following images:
(There are many very realistic textures that you can use and there are also good options for textures in detail brushes, but in this example I am using Dappled cloud for being the most similar to what I am looking for)

In case you don't like the colors used, no problem! Clip Studio has an option that helps change the color gamut. Luckily we have colored black and white so you can appreciate much better the change we will make next. (It is important that the whole model is in a single layer, I have created a separate layer for the example)

In [Edit -> Tonal Correction -> Gradient Map] you can choose between several color options and analyze which one suits your taste.

Great, right? I like more this range of colors compared to black and white (green, since it is in phosphorescent tones makes the monster look toxic and dangerous) so I will stay with this model. You can experiment with all the colors you want. These are the color palettes of the example you download from ASSETS:

https://assets.clip-studio.com/es-es/detail?id=1708853

Coloring III - Monster 2

The first part of the process for the monster ② is similar to the previous one, using the same brushes that I attached above I have colored based on orange hues.
Also, with the base color layer selected, [Block transparent pixels] so that the brushstrokes do not leave the figure. It would be something like this:

Since I have imagined this creature as a brilliant, but warm and pleasant magical being, we will make these qualities stand out through some effects imitating fire for the tail and head using this brush:

https://assets.clip-studio.com/es-es/detail?id=1394805

Intercalating between red / orange, yellow and transparent color from time to time (the transparent box below the sample of colors) following the shape of the tail we will achieve something like this:

(*) Recommendation: It is important that (in this case) the layer where we paint the fire is above the Lineart layer, as the brush we are using is not smooth, we are taking advantage of that quality to give a slightly more realistic appearance , of fire that is not easily tamed.
In addition, I added a layer of [Overexpose] type to give it more brightness in some areas.

Coloring IV - Monster 3

The first part of the process for the monster ③ is similar to the previous one, using the same brushes that I attached above (Plus the default tool [Color Mix -> Watercolor Mix] to blur), but this time coloring in blue hues. (So that visually contrasts with the monster ②)
Again, with the base color layer selected, clicking the [Block transparent pixels] option so that the brush strokes do not leave the figure.

Now, do you remember mentioning that you don't worry about making a clean and accurate lineart? Well, this monster will be a good demonstration. Personally I find it difficult to make hairy and plump creatures like stuffed animals, so I will do this:
In a layer above the Lineart we will trace small and 'hairy' brush strokes where necessary (at the discretion of each)

As you can see, I have been inserting brush strokes in the form of small arches mixing the same brushes that I mentioned earlier, (the good thing about inserting between brushes is to take advantage of the different textures, somehow, for this example it makes them have a hairier texture, no?) I attach them again anyway:

https://assets.clip-studio.com/es-es/detail?id=1433807
https://assets.clip-studio.com/es-es/detail?id=1729478

And after several tweaks it is ready!

Latest Recommendations

I hope I helped you have a better knowledge of monster design. I believe that keeping the process simple is more useful for everyone, but whatever method you use and without neglecting real references, it is important to recognize where you want to go with your design and what you want to represent. And for that, having a good perception of the forms helps a lot!

I will attach some of my social networks in case you are interested in seeing more of my drawings! Thank you for reading!

https://twitter.com/giushia/media

https://www.patreon.com/giushia?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign https://www.patreon.com/giushia?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign

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