Designing a Hybrid Character!

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Zoisette

Zoisette

Introduction

Hello! Today we’ll be designing an animal-human hybrid character. This tutorial will focus on creature and aesthetic choice, anatomy breakdown, details, and posing your final design.

Step 1: General questions

When creating an animal-human hybrid character, you need to consider a couple of questions first, aesthetic and humanness.

Aesthetic

The overall aesthetic is important to consider when choosing which animal or animals you want to use in your design. A variety of affects can be made with the same animal, but the animal you choose can make it harder to get the affect you want.

Humanness

Remember to bear in mind what your character will be doing or wearing when sketching out the shape. Do they need working hands? Do they need to wear a disguise or uniform? Also take note that your character’s physical needs can be fulfilled by accessories, e.g. your character might have wings for arms and not be able to pick things up, but a magic item or a prosthesis could do that for them!

In my case, I’m working on a sheep-human hybrid who works a job as an accountant. Imagining his personality, he’s a stubborn fellow who takes pride in his professionalism.

Because of his job, he’ll need to have dexterous hands and the ability to stand on two legs. I also want him to look well in a suit, since he likes looking professional and put together. This works alright with a sheep because a sheep’s most notable characteristics are on their heads, not the shape of their limbs.

Anatomy Practice

Take some time drawing from references of your chosen animal. You’ll find yourself noticing details about them that you didn’t before. Adding those details to your character will help them to come alive.

Catagorizing Your Character's Anatomy

When deciding what parts are more animal and what’s more human, it’s useful to divide the body into parts. An easy way to do this is to block out your character like this:

 

Head

Torso

Arms

Legs

OtherAppendages(tail,wings)

Skin

Accessories(ears,horns,antennae,etc.

Consider your animal and what your think its most important features are. Did you choose the animal because of its skin (fur, scales etc.), or its limbs (wings on a bird, spider arms, etc.)? Add those features to your character and work from there.s are a great way to add to your character while still maintaining the core sihouette of your most important animal. For instance, a spider-human hybrid with reptile secondary feature might have the eight limbs of a spider, and reptile scales on part of their body.

Here I experimented with different secondary animals as an exercise: scorpion, crab, and bat. The scorpion is very different from the sheep but has accessory characteristics such as antennae and scales that can be added to our sheep without jeopardizing his main form. In addition, I used the scorpion stinger as fingernails.

The crab was the hardest because crabs are somewhat minimalistic in their design, which consists mostly of a smooth shell and big claw hands. My sheep is an accountant so he needs hands! I used the crab instead as a texture modifier on the horns.

The bat worked the most naturally with the sheep because they’re both fluffy mammals. My sheep doesn’t have bat wings, but a bat’s nose and ears are fairly easily recognizable and add to the sheep hybrid without detracting from his main features.

Sketching Out the Form

Once you’ve decided on the main features of your character, do some rough sketches. Draw some quick poses from different angles to see if your design is giving you the effect you want. If you’re stuck deciding on more than one design, pose them in a similar way that shows off their most interesting features and set them side by side. You’ll be able to see better which iteration you prefer.

Working Out the Details

If you haven’t worked out the less important features of your character, now is the time to do it. Things like horn/antler placement, eye color and shape, hair and nails can make your character look polished and believable. And of course, if your character has a special outfit, work on that in light of what you want aesthetically and what makes sense for the character in their environment.

Posing Your Character

Here I experimented with different poses my accountant sheep would take in his daily life. I choose a few poses that allow his sheep characteristics to be the most visible and for his outfit to be seen properly. In an action scene these things don’t necessarily matter, but in a portrait you want your character to be immediately understandable.

For a final picture of your character, make sure to pose them in such a way that their primary characteristics are immediately visible, and that the pose isn’t too confusing. A way of checking if your character pose isn’t too complicated and can be easily understood is to pick a pose whose silhouette can also be easily understood.

Here I’m picking ordinary poses that my sheep hybrid would be making, poses that reflect his personality as a busy, driven, somewhat formal person. I’m also situating him so that his main features aren’t hidden and his outfit can be easily seen.

Background

After you’ve posed your character, you can add some background and props to make them come alive in the picture. It doesn’t have to be fancy: common items that your character would use or interact with suffices, and the background itself can be anything from a hazy mountain range to a colored halo around your character’s form.

For the sheep accountant, I knew at the beginning that a more minimal background would work best, since the character himself is not not very busy and I didn’t want to distract from him. I ultimately went with the middle option because while it did have some cheery color to it, it was more in keeping with the watercolor palette than the one on the right.

So there you have it, designing a character with animal hybrid elements. In general, when working on a picture you know will take some effort, structuring your approach into steps and categories will help the ultimate design and picture take less time and be less daunting. I hope you had fun following my tutorial!

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