Creature design - Zaine


Introduction and disclaimer

Hello, My name is Eddie H.Hinestroza, I'm a freelance concept artist primarily working with environment designs and I wanted to push myself to create a creature using my previous knowledge of design thinking.

This is my second ever creature design that I've done so keep that in mind. I just wanted to share how was my experience so other people may feel inspired to try it out!

Here is the final Design


Research, Research, Research.

This is the first step to everything that I do.
Having a brief is the most important part from the creating process when you want to design something, when it comes to decision making, your brief will guide so you don't spend years mindlessly doing iterations without a focus on that your goals are.

I knew I wanted to create a creature based on some type of lizard, I started googling type of lizards and I found the "Crocodile Skink", when I saw it I couldn't believe it was real. So I took that as my starting point.

In my case, these are the questions I asked myself about the creature I wanted to make.

Magical "Crocodile Skink like" creature
Legendary Magical and Strength based.

- How close to a real Crocodile Skink do I want to be?
It's important, but I want to make it more stylized and inventive

- What impression do I want the creature to give the Viewer?
Playful, Innocent, fierce, Inteligent, powerful, Timid

- What body type would best suit our purposes?
Cute, a little chubby, it has mass and strength

- What colour?
Colours that signal magical ability

Questions like this will really help you define how your creature should look like to convey the feeling you want.

Reference Gathering

So I started thinking about things plausibly associated with Magic and other traits that I wanted to convey and this is what I came up with.

Magical theme.

- Fantastical
- enchantments
- Nature
- Elemental
- Mysterious
- Mystic
- Charming
- Dragons
- Owl
- Elegant birds

Here I started to look for animals that have the same qualities I wanted my creature to have.

- Playful animals (Dogs, Bears, red pandas)
- Fierce animals (all cats, Wolves)
- Intelligent animals (Monkeys, Elephants, dolphins)
- Powerful animals (Beetle, Gorilla, Tiger)

I can't show all the references I got because of copyright, but I can tell you that I got over 124 Images. 55 of those where creature designs by other artists. 14 of those were dragons from how to train your dragon and the last 55 references were from nature.


Finally! the fun part begins.

I found that designing in Profile view is faster that designing a creature in perspective. drawing in perspective may distract you from thinking about design and you may start focusing in the drawing looking "correct in perspective" rather than if the design is good or not.

I had a body shape I wanted my creature to convey based on my brief so I did iterations thinking about that.

Initially I liked the sketch outlined in blue, but there was a problem with that design. 1 its head looked like toothless from how to train your dragon and 2 his head wasn't "magical" enough for me so I decided to combine it with the head of the creature outlined in Red. You can see that the right part of the page is just me playing with that Idea and develop it further.

Refining the design

I choose that head because the hair had some magical qualities to it, but I wanted to push it further so you will see that in the final result the hair is much longer.

The tail is another feature that I discovered in this phase. in design, it's good to have features or details on the end of things. for a better explanation of this google Paul Richard's article called "THUMB WAR" - check his articles he is amazing.

Color Variations

Color is a very tricky thing, there is not a right or wrong way to go about it... sometimes it's best to trust your instincts. I need to learn more about color but for now that's how I approach it.

I really like the outlined with red, but It felt too aquatic and I wasn't going for that. the outlined green felt too elegant for me and that's why I choose the outlined blue one, it's colors came from the crocodile skin, making it look more "grounded" in a way, but at the same time his magenta hair and tail had some elements of magic into it.

Using reference again?

Because I'm not a creature designer, I looked for references again to pose the creature in perspective, Hyenas where the one that resemble the body shape the most so I started looking at hyenas for posing the creature.

Final Presentation

Final Words

Thanks for reading my tip of the month! I hope it was useful to you and maybe it gives you courage to get out of your comfort zone!

If you have any question about art, design or anything you can find me at @storypaintings on Instagram.


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