Creating creatures by combining animals




Hi it's Nadia!

This is a little tutorial on how I've created a new creature by combining different animals. In this tutorial I'll show how to create creatures an a quick way on how to recreate skin texture (I've done it in her legs)

Ideas and firts studies

While creating a new creature it's helpful thinking about reality and then modify it.


You can use this technique also for create monsters! All you need to remember is that monsters are usually seen as scary (if they are not done cute on purpose!) and that it will be helpful to add deformed part of the body or really long and pointy teeth etc... but I'm going to talk about normal creature that could be normal animals on a parallel world!


So, I've choosen three animals (you can just combine two or more!) and they are: swan, toucan and anteater. For choosing the animals you can choose the ones you prefer or you can have fun using a random animal generator which will choose them randomly.


I've searched references (a lot of them, from different positions as well!) of the animals and started sketching ideas. For this phase I stay really loose, doing it quickly to find an idea I like.

I think what part of an animal I want to be more present and then I add other parts as details.

I liked the one that looked like a bird, so I've copied it in a new layer and started to do study of it.

In this phase I think about where they could live (so you know if they have lot of hair or feathers), what they eat (so you know if they need teeth or not), if they can run/jump/swin/fly and lastly what differences there are from male to female. You don't have to draw or write down everything. I keep them like a memo in mind so I have the general idea of the creature.

Note: Usually in nature if male and female has not big differences, the mainly different it's size and presence of more or less hair. So for this creature I decided that male are size bigger and that female has long eyelashes (1 and 2).

Also I've thought that this creature can run but swim as well, so it would be helpful for them to close their webbed legs. (3,4,5)


You can see I've changed the legs from the first sketch I did. I've made them more skinny and more bird like.

Illustration: pose sketches

Now that I know my creature, I draw a quick pose for her:

With my firsts studies I know her shapes and details, so I do a better sketch in a new layer:

Illustration: colors

First I lower the opacity of sketch (1) at about 10%, so it can be seen just to give details, and my sketch (2) I lower the opacity at 94%.


Then under those two layers, I create a new layer and I choose the flat colors similar to the animals I've choosen (or you can change it if you prefer!) :


In a new layer above all, I create a new layer set in "Multiply" and I use a greyish blue color to do the firsts shadows.


Note: When I add shadows I follow the shapes of the creature. Where there is hair I draw like tine lines as hair shadow and where are feathers on the wings, I draw curved lines:

I create another layer in "Multiply" and I add other shadows but this time I choose the same colors as where I want to put shadows. So, under the neck I pick the green color, on the legs the blue etc...

I create a new layer in "Overlay" and I add orange lights like I did with shadows following shapes:

I create a new layer in "Add (Glow)"and I lower the opacity at about 50%. I add little blue lights:

I create a new layer in "Normal" and I add light with colors slightly more brighter than where I want to add light. So I pick a brighter green and red on the beack. A brighter light blue on feathers etc...

But I do this in few parts, just to add few lights!

I create a new layer in "Normal" and I add the "rim light". I use a light blue like if it is from the ambient.

I add it following the shapes, so where there are hairs I just do hairs!

There are few parts where the "rim light"it's not really clear. So I create a new layer in "Normal" and I add a lighter blue to make it more easy to see:

Illustration: quick skin

Now that I've finished shadows and lights, I can add texture to make it more real. In this creature there is just the legs to fix beacause they are like skin.

So, on the bar tool I open "Decoration". I select "Hatching"and then Gauze Cloud.


This tool is usually used for manga tones, but this texture it's nice also for skin, like leather or reptiles and the "Gauze"it's nice for fish

I create a new layer in "Multiply" at about 60% opacity and with a blue color I add a little of texture:

I erase the parts that are not needed.

I create a new layer in "Normal" and I pick the color below but I make it a bit brighter.

I start doing little light points and lines, not everywhere, just few to make it bright!


See here one leg has light while the other one has not. And you can see it seems skin form far away!

And this is finished!

Illustration: quick background

I saved a new file so I have a copy without the background and I have merged all layers in one.


The I did the backgroud color with the gradient tool below the creature:

Then I used this brush to create quick grass:

First I did it under the layer of the creature:

And then above all:

I then created a new layer in "Overlay" and colored the grass with organge and blue light to make a bit of atmosphere:

But now it seems that the creature it's out of place!


  • I add a new layer in "Multiply" and I add a big blue shadows

  • I add another new layer in "Overlay" and I add orange lights


I choose the colors similar to the ones I used for the grass:

I like it, but now it seems the grass does not have light! So I add a new "Normal" layer and I add orange and blu light with a normal brush.

The colors are like the below ones, bbut a bit brigther:

On the tool bar click "Decoration" and I've used "Trees" to make the trees shapes on the background.

Then for the leaves with light color I've used a brush I've created (I leave you here my brush if you need it), but you can draw the leaves with a normal brush free hand if you prefer!

Then I merge all trees in one layer and I go to:


Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur


To make the trees blurred, so they seems far away.

And lastly, with a soft brush I add a bit of mist in a normal layer and it's finished!

Thank you for reading, I hope this is helpful!



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