Hello, everyone! And welcome to the world of,
I will take you to a fun trip through the many influences that defined my way of drawing 「Entities」and reintroduce them to you!
This time, we'll have a 「Draw Along」 and we'll go through each step together!
Ready? Then let's start!
◆ DARK FANTASY ≠ FANTASY
What is it? What do we mean by 「Dark」?
The darkness derives from the world-building structure of the story.
➡Gloomy / Scary atmosphere
➡No perfectly good Characters
➡Focus on the worst human characteristics (e.g. greed, wrath, lust...)
➡No guaranteed Happy End
● Dark Fantasy stories don't make a secret of their sinister undertones.
Unlike light-hearted Fantasy stories with hobbits and their six meals a day,
The 'scary' tropes are accepted, but constantly reinvented to create new fresh thrills.
● A great focus is put on the weakness of the character.
No matter if human or monster, they incorporate the worst character
traits of humans (e.g. greed, pride, etc.) and yet each has their own reason for
● Having these negative features, can add a shock-value as we are used to stories
playing out like a well-composed song.
This means, that while drawing our characters, we can intentionally play around
with their appearance, to create a greater surprise.
◆ DRAWING 【SCARY】｜Concept ①｜FACE
Humans instinctively look for faces similar to their own, in living things as well as objects.
This psychological tendency is part of: 【bukimi no tani genshou】(engl. 'Uncanny Valley')
'Almost human'-looking (80%) ➡ Eerie feeling
'Somewhat human'-looking (50%) ➡ Empathetic Reaction
They are still part of what we perceive as 「Normal」
Due to that things/beings that do not show human-like features, appear unsettling to us.
For example something with no eyes or more than two eyes (like insects).
By combining the anatomy of a mammal with that of an insect, we can create an 「Incomprehensive Anatomy」.
This way we can naturally give a creature an eerie feeling.
▼ Hybrids of Mammals and 【Insects】or【Deep Sea Creatures】can especially
result in unsettling figures.
◆ DRAWING 【SCARY】｜Concept ②｜ANATOMY DIS-/HARMONY
Any object in our world can roughly be broken down into the basic shapes,
like circles〇 and triangles△.
But, there are shape sequences that feel more natural to us than others.
Think of them as △ Disharmonious △ Harmonious
The anatomy, of micro creatures, when scaled larger, almost seems alien to us,
as we aren't used to them. It is not immediately recognized as 「Normal」.
There are various ways we can disharmonize the anatomy to give the
character an ominous appearance:
Due to years of death through certain diseases, the human brain trained itself to be overly-cautious around signs of disease. Thanks to do that, the first signs of sickness, (like skin diseases) causes an involuntary reaction in us to be afraid and to stay away.
② Mental Sickness
Just like with physical diseases, some mental disorders can also alert us to be cautious.
There are ways to showcase if someone is in a state of distress (e.g. thin hay-like hair, red exhausted eyes, pale skin, dry lips, etc.). Unlike Diseases, the reason some mental disorders/ states can be scary to us, is perhaps because we know that such a person can act irrational and thus we can't foresee their actions.
Humans have another interesting trait, which causes them to feel pain, just by watching someone else get hit in certain areas. There seems to be an uneasy feeling when especially weak and vulnerable parts of the body are exposed. So, by placing organs outside of the character's body, it can cause such a sensitivity reaction in us.
◆ DRAWING 【SCARY】｜Concept ③｜LOVECRAFTIAN ENTITIES
An author who was very well aware of point ① and ②, was 【H.P. Lovecraft】.
His【Entities】were so colossus and so alien in their shape that the human mind completely freaks out just at the sight of them.
Expressions in his literature, like: "Oddly completed shape" really inspired me to think more abstract.
Here is one such「Entity」of mine as an example ➡
It plays with with the cognitive recognition by the human eye. (【Pareidolia】)
Lovecraft also focused on the aspect of 【Size】.
【Size】as simple as a concept it may be, can play into the natural fear of humans of feeling insignificant or helpless. Thus we should also consider【Perspective】as a factor for how scary a creature may appear. (e.g. wideshot frame, upwards-looking frame)
◆ DRAWING 【SCARY】｜Concept ④｜PAREIDOLIA
The human behavior, that makes us perceive ・Faces・Animals・People in objects,
where none actually are. (e.g. clouds, car lights, carpets...)
■ What you see differs from what someone else sees → What you see is thus
unconsciously influenced by your drawing style already.
■ By creating a Scribble like this, our eyes will naturally seek for 「Normal」
Anatomy structure (Face&Body). But the results will be different
for each individual.
■ Now that I've pointed it out, it should suddenly become more
obvious for you to recognize.
■ But, where do you think the face of this entity is?
(Without looking at the next picture, try to guess)
Is your guess included in the answers below?
If intentional or unintentional, your idea of what is and what is not 「Normal」is always part of your characters.
■ We can also just use this method for the face, if you are struggling
You can achieve great and odd looking shapes with this, fitting for 【Dark Fantasy】characters!
◆ DRAWING 【SCARY】｜Process
These are some of the tools I like to use for 【Scary】drawings.
I use all three for 【Humanoids】 and for 【Monsters】
As you can see, I tend to draw 【Scary】drawings with messy lines.
The reason for that is that it adds an 「movement」&「distorted」element.
Imagine you're watching a horror film.
What is scarier, being able to clearly see the monster,
or only seeing it very unclearly in the background?
I'd say, definitely the later! It creates a lot more suspense.
So, if you wish to draw an entity, as impactful as Lovecraftian entities,
then less visibility might be more ominous!
◆ DARK FANTASY｜CHARACTER TROPES
Now that you know how to start your drawing and some fun concepts,
I'll introduce a few easy ways on how to add 「Visual Details」to individualize Characters!
A cursed knight, a cursed doll, a cursed child, we are all familiar with these types of characters.
▼ In this case I added some 【Voodoo doll】features to the character and his partner.
This unfortunate knight has been cursed to slowly turn into a tree. But to avoid the
curse from growing stronger, he casts another curse onto his body.
This curse allows him a longer life as long as he sacrifices people.
Items from Folklore or beliefs of old times, like:
Are great ways to hint at what sort of curse your character has, or that they are cursed at all.
⇒ VISUAL DETAILS 【THE CURSED】
● Effect/Origin of the curse
● Goal of the cursed
● Items against Curse
Orcs are such a common concept, but there are still some ways to individualize them.
One way to do so, is to incorporate the results of their living environment on the creature's body.
▼ Here, this Orcs lives in a cave at the coast, sleeping amongst salt and stone.
Thus its skin is hardened and scales built up on some spots.
The wrecked ship around his neck leaves one to wonder,
just what was this orc doing so close to the ocean?
⇒ VISUAL DETAILS 【THE ORC】
● Environmental Influence
● Items of past encounters
The look of a Werewolf is already quite restricted as it has to be a humanoid wolf.
So another way, to re-imagine this character, besides 「Environmental Influence」, is the concept of:【Hybrids】
◆ LET'S START USING THE TIPS! (Draw Along)
⇒ After you've decided on what type of creature you want to draw (in my case
a dragon), decide upon one shape to repetitively sketch on your 「White Layer」
(I chose △ as I initially intended for a harsher appearance)
■ Use different pressure to add a sense of dimension to the scribble.
It might open up a completely new character for you to find!
⇒ Done? Great! If you're still unable to recognize anything, don't worry!
Keep adding your shapes. Let your wrist move loosely to get
unintentional natural lines.
⇒ Now that we've found the rough outline of our character,
we will now set the 「Scribble Layer」to 【Hide】
⇒ We do not make the Line art just yet! Before we can do that,
we need to put in our 「Visual Details」.
What kind of story is this dragon telling?
▼ This Water Dragon, inspired by the blue bottle jellyfish, has been floating
atop the ocean without being detected until one day it was swept ashore
and discovered by humans, who decided to strike it down.
⇒ If you're satisfied with the sketch, you can further move on to either do
the Linearts or color it in. (I will leave this sketch like this, as the point
of this TIPP isn't colouring but the reinventing of Dark Fantasy characters)
◆ Thank You For Reading!
I dearly hope that these ideas and drawing methods can be as useful to you, as they are to me!
Drawing 【Creatures】is really fun, so please enjoy creating your character!