When we are creating a world, be it fantastic or real, we want to introduce new species of animals that match the story, but many times we don't know what to do and we just tend to create "bears with horns" or "cows with wings" without taking account for multiple factors to make these animals credible with their universe and biologically possible or grounded.
1. Structure and Anatomy. Why and why are animals the way they are?
2. Habitat. Environment how does this affect adaptation? colors, coatings, etc.
3. Utility or role Domestic, companion, wild animals?
This will allow us to "justify" the existence of our animal and give it a reason. The bear has horns because he uses them to fight against giant deer, or the "wings" of the cows are not really to fly but rather to drive away the bugs eat grass that take away their food.
Using Existing Animal structures.
All existing animals have a certain bone structure or silhouette. They are not so random, and it is essential to understand why and for what the animals of our world have these characteristics, their functions and how the body is divided.
The classification of animals is practically infinite, there are species, sub species, races, families, order, etc. It is also the designer's job to thoroughly investigate the animal you want to use as a "base" for its creation.
They can be mammals, fish, birds, etc., but always taking into account what makes them such, and how they differ.
Here I will show basic examples of animal structure.
Generally the structures of the animals are composed of three main parts, and depending on whether it is biped or quadruped it will depend on whether they go horizontally or vertically.
1: Head or Skull: it is always the first part of the structure, most animals have one and almost always where the face goes.
2: Torso or Chest: it is the second step in the anatomy. It allows to show the upper part of the body that is closer to the head and more distant than the pelvis.
3: Pelvis or Base: it is the third part of the body. This is why it is the one that supports the weight and, in addition, the one in charge of controlling the legs.
In the image there are examples of how these structures are repeated in both biped and quadruped animals.
Even if the naked eye is not noticeable, or in itself does not really have bone structure, these three defined points can be found in the vast majority of animals.
In the image we have a fish, even a spider separated by simple structures.
Remember that how and in which direction you draw the structure will go the action of the animal.
Finally mention that there are animals such as Octopus or Coral or Starfish that have their own characteristics. As I said before, it is the artist's job to look for his references.
Behavior (Part 1)
Animals have a behavior generally determined by their lifestyle and the environment. Thus, we can differentiate the dietary diet of animals in relation to their physical elements, such as claws, claws, tweezers, etc.
However, the easiest way is to observe the eyes. Generally, carnivorous animals have their eyes straight ahead, so they can look at their prey. On the other hand, boiling animals or those that are generally prey to others have their eyes on their sides to have a better perception of their surroundings and to escape from predators.
The skin color, hair, temperature, among others, are factors that are determined by their lifestyle: if an animal is nocturnal, it is most likely dark to not be easily detected, as well as an animal that lives in the snows cannot be red since they would otherwise eat it.
There is also another very important factor to consider: the natural habitat.
Animals live in a certain place and with certain characteristics due to something called: Adaptation and Evolution. The environment where our animal lives must be consistent with its physiognomy.
In the example, we see that a normal swamp frog could not live in an ice lake. It would freeze! On the other hand, if this frog has a strange adaptation that allows it to have fluff to take care of the heat, it is possible that it can live there, and with that we have created a different species based on an existing one.
Taking into account all the previous analysis about real-life animals is that we can begin to create ours. Imagine a feline, who are mostly quadruped and nocturnal carnivores. We already know that ours will have its eyes straight ahead, with dilated eyes to see better and that it walks on all fours (1).
But we also need to understand WHERE he lives, and how the environment has affected his evolution and adaptation to the environment.
It is easy to say that if you live in a cold place you will be hairy (2) and if you live in a warm place you will not have hair, but creation goes far beyond that.
Our cat is nocturnal, so a black coat will help you to walk at night, however, it lives in an area where there are days when a lot of snow falls, so it can be easily seen by the contrast with the white (3 ).
We find the dilemma that this animal lives in an area where there are nights where the ground is dark and others where the ground is white, a great dilemma for the adaptation of this animal. What can we do? The resolution of problems is what allows the survival of the species, so we must deliver a tool that will turn your cat into a unique species, without losing meaning and logic.
The animal that I improvised is this (4). He is usually a black cat, not so hairy and quite agile at night and due to his fur, his prey can barely see him.
It has a quite hairy tail that can screw at will. This tail, similar to that of a skunk, has a white and a black part. This cat turns it down to hide its white part that, in addition, when making sound under its legs makes the animals believe that it is only the noise of the grass, and after this it attacks its victim.
However, when unforeseen snowfall begins to fall, this animal unscrews its tail, freeing an immense white duster behind it. Due to its ability to screw the tail, it turns this time towards its back and head, covering it completely with white. This way you can sneak through the snow to keep hunting.
Do not mix
Although with the previous example we mixed concepts of various animals, we should note that they were all in harmony and it is something that is logically possible. A mammal was not mixed with a fish, since they have very different anatomies. You must have a special eye in knowing when to mix or when not, otherwise we would be creating a Chimera or a magical Creature, and it is not the idea of this tutorial.
I reiterate not mixing characteristics of other groups, such as reptiles or birds, because their structures and composition are different. In doing so, you should be very well justified, or say that you have only "appearance." Like the beginning cow, which has limbs that flutter the grass, but are not wings themselves.
Taking this into account we can create creatures that, from a base, adapt to their environment producing various changes in their bodies. Whether colors to camouflage, two extra eyes, more resistant lungs, etc.
In the example we see a Fish with ... udders? As we know these belong to the Cows (mammals) that serve to provide milk. That a fish put milk (1) does not make sense because the fish do not drink milk.
However, we want to do yes or yes to a "cow fish" and we have several options to do it in a much more logical way.
- Take other characteristics (2): The spots of the cow, the shape of the skull, etc., are elements that do not directly interfere with the scheme of a fish. With a little imagination you can even add a bright cow bell-shaped anchor.
- Justify the appearance (3): Although it looks like an udder, IT IS NOT an udder. Justifying an element similar to another may also be an option. In this case, our Cowfish uses its udder-like appendix, to stick to the sea rocks and not be carried by the current.
Utility and Role
* Without belittling any animal life, they are just examples for stories or drawings *
We usually make two types of animals for stories. The former are domestic animals, which serve humans or the breed that domesticated them in some way. On the other hand are those beasts that are considered wild and are often the "enemy" in turn. Although there are actually many classifications for animals and their role in history.
It is called "role" that animal that directly interferes with the story, such as a wild animal that persecutes the protagonists, or their pet.
On the other hand, the "usefulness" of animals are, for the most part, to reflect the culture of people, the environment of the world, etc.
In the example we see 5:
- Domestic Animals (1): Dogs, Cats, among others. They are generally small and tender animals, ideal for children or rough adults who have a hidden "tender" part.
In this case we must highlight the cuteness of the animal. Making your eyes big, ears, smiles, and small size will help us to reflect that feeling.
- Cargo or Transport Animals (2): Horses, Oxen, Camels. They are large and muscular animals, with great force and that humans generally use to carry heavy objects, a lot of cargo or as a means of transport.
Important here to highlight that they are mostly meek animals and that they have a place in the back where they can accommodate all the cargo they must carry. They are usually covered by sacks, straps or backpacks.
- Producing or Farm Animals (3): Sheep, Pigs, Cows. Animals that provide food in one way or another. They are quieter animals, much less strong than pack animals, and much more excluded than pets.
These have to demonstrate what they produce in a simple way. If they give milk to see their work, if they give wool that are hairy, etc.
- Wild Animals (4): Snakes, Jaguars, Bears. They are the animals that if they feel threatened they will attack aggressively. They are almost never with humans, and if so, it is because they are either in captivity or were tamed. Unlike the previous ones, these have erratic behavior.
Not being under the care of anyone, they usually have scars, are very thin or very muscular and usually attack people if provoked.
- Divine Animals (5): Animals that are called "rare." Unlike the others these can be both wild and domestic depending on the culture. These are almost always revered for their colors or for some deity who named him as such.
In themselves, these animals tend to show some indifference to people who idolize them like a god.
Behavior (Part 2)
Play with the Environment.
As we saw earlier, animals behave differently depending on the species, but there is always a reason behind it, and this can be easily demonstrated with the illustration.
For example, we want to make a species of predatory mountain goat. Unlike the other goats, this being carnivorous, would bring its eyes forward and not to the sides (1).
Likewise, this same goat may inhabit very narrow passages in a cave, so his eyes, despite not being predatory, are facing forward, since it is useless to look where there is only one wall ( two).
Trying to imagine the way of life of an animal, in addition to fun, is very good exercise to create a unique creature. Improvising it occurred to me that the goat can turn its head 360 degrees like the owls, in this way it can see back and forth in the narrow walls of the caverns where it lives.
For example we want to make a marine animal, so we take parts of several animals we want and mix them subtly, if it has a strong jaw like the piranha, but it behaves curiously like an octopus, we can make a furious fish with thin tentacles to that take objects, or a kind of octopus with teeth.
Remember that not everything is mixing, and that by adding more history and depth to your animals you will be shaping them until they are indifferent from others.
So let's review what you learned!
1- We create a base structure, defining the way of walking and the pose of our animal. How many legs does it have, how is its snout, ears, etc.
2- We wonder where does he live? How's the weather? Is it day or night? You can ask yourself thousands of questions about their behavior. In this case it is a species of animal that lives in a swamp and is diurnal, spends most of the day underwater, but it is also very agile on land.
3 - We sketch: Our animal is quadruped, which makes it quite agile. When living in a swamp, the first thing that occurs to me is that it is reptile, since its scales allow it to mitigate water. Add membranes to swim better and Koi fish whiskers that helps you camouflage.
4 - Details: We add the details and we are shaping our animal until it is complete. It may even be very different from your first sketch.
5 - Utility and Role: What does my animal specialize in? If it is wild to add marks or intense look, if it is domestic, it is more tender. In this case I decided that it would be a perfect mount for some aboriginal swamp, so I added something to identify it.
6 - Add the elements: Finally add the previously thought elements and perhaps others. Remember that these should have a reason and not be put on just because they look pretty. In my case I put a muzzle so that it did not bite other people, the strap to mount, mount and handcuffs on the legs that are removed when you need to go in the water.
7 - And we have our animal ready! We can include it in our stories, comic books, drawings, video games, illustrated novels, whatever you want!
All beings and elements of our universe have a foundation or at least there are theories about it.
Being able to base the appearance of our characters, races, animals or planets allows us to create a better bond with the viewer / reader who will feel closer to the creature.
In addition, there is something very beautiful in forming your creations so that, as a creator, you know that they can survive.
Thank you very much for reading this tutorial! I hope you liked it!! : D