Creating An Human-Animal Hybrid

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Bensan

Bensan

This month’s theme is Hybrid Characters! I’m excited to show my process on how I created this quick Mouse girl Hybrid, with a focus on the thought process in a way I think can be applied to general character design.


Making The Mouse

For this character, I’ll be making a Mouse hybrid. The method of choosing which animal, real or imagined is up to you.

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The first thing I do is look up information about the chosen animal. Mostly the ears, tail, and limb shapes. Also color and fur types. Some of this information may not be relevant at all but it will never hurt your process to know as much as you can.

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Popular depictions of them in media, like cartoons or comics, also come into play. It may seem tedious to look for things like this, but I find this step more beneficial to the process then just looking up images of the real animal, then drawing a human with that same hair or fur color.

The mouse is an animal with a lot of depictions in media. Some popular characters are Jerry from “Tom & Jerry”, Minnie Mouse, and Gadget from the “Rescue Rangers” as well as the mice from “Cinderella”. I took some inspiration from these, particularly as you’ll see, Cinderella.

 

 


Building the Silhouette Using References

Now we will focus on using references to get a general silhouette and the basic shapes I’ll be using down.

Starting with the head:

I’ll give her a basic chibi style head shape for now, and focus on the shape and design of her ears. As a mouse, she’ll only have two features that I can really play with. Ears and tail.

A common theme with the cartoons of mice I see is that they are usually very cute and chibi like. The mouse I’m making will be similar, with a larger head and a smaller body. Her ears will also be quite large in proportion to the rest of her body.

Making the ears prominent also helps to make it clear she’s a mouse, even once we begin adding things to her design, like clothes and more human features.

Mouse ears have a distinct shape, and many different mouse drawings take liberties with the design. I tried to stay true to real shape for now.

A good tip is to pick a feature of the animal that will remain visible at all times. Ears covered by hair? They should have a long tail that with a color that sticks out among its clothes. No tail? If it’s a winged animal, give them prominent wings, rather than small cute ones. Even making the pattern on their fur or skin highly visible can achieve this, like for a tiger or cheetah. Though skin and patterns in fur won’t usually be visible on a silhouette.

(((The body I’m using for now is this guy.)))

In the animated movie, Cinderella, one of the female mice wears a bow on her tail as well as a full skirt. And Minnie Mouse wears a similar, shorter skirt. I’ve played around with a few lengths and different fullness, but I’ve found a good silhouette here.

 

I’ve considered shape language as well in her design. Lots of friendly circles, with a bit of a triangle for her skirt. Many of the mice depictions are of sneaky mice scavenging for food, most well know is Jerry. So I wanted to give her a bit of mischievousness as well.

(((Here’s some tips I use for shape language basics.)))

At this point, I need to consider her story and the purpose I’m creating her for. I took a lot of inspiration from Cinderella (with the bow and the big dress), so I think making her a mouse fairy god mother is what I’ll go with to keep the theme.

For a fairy god mother, you might add a wand, a crown, or wings to visually communicate that. With the big skirt and big ears, the silhouette risks becoming too busy and muddled by adding too many things to her.

 

 

Wings would cover all the midsection of her body unless I made them very small.

 

But a crown could help to appear to lengthen her if the crown is more vertically shaped.

 

A wand also can be a good accessory, so I’ll play with it a bit in the detail phase.


Details

With the details, I focus on a few factors:

-Accessories

-Secondary Animal features

-Color palette

Accessories

This part applies to the accessories she will wear and defining the dress, which we only had the general shape of before.

 

1). I’ve added details to the large skirt now, particularly the underside. I left the top of the skirt basic and plain to avoid cluttering her design so early on.

 

2). I gave her a sheer top to the skirt as well to make her dress more fantasy like.

 

3). And because I want to include a few more circles to make sure she keeps a soft shape. I added sleeves to her that are large and puffy.

You’ll notice I gave her a fluffier bow as well.

I also added detail to her eyes and gave her circle eyebrows. Her feet and legs are smaller now as well.

Next I consider the details of the crown and the wand. For both of them I want them to still be quite simple.

(((I used this asset for the crown.)))

And for the wand, there are also a lot of assets and ideas I can explore, but the classic star topped wand fits her so well, especially when she’s still only seen in silhouette.

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Now comes the question of wings.I want to try to keep the wings for the sake of keeping her easily readable as a fairy, but when I was looking up different mice I saw a few wind up mice cat toys. This makes me think of giving her a little wind up crank where wings would be.

I’ll try to give her crank a wing like shape. It’s small so you can’t see it in the front view, but I know it’s there if I ever draw her from the side or behind.

 

Using shapes that have a widely know meaning or association can be beneficial to a characters design. It helps communicate a lot with less effort. Perhaps this little fairy was once a wind up toy?

Now comes her hair. Mice are short fur creatures, this makes me want to give her a short fluffy haircut. But I’m willing to change that if I can find a style that works with her look.

While I liked the short hair, she’s still a human and animal hybrid. So it’s not necessary for every feature to be like the animal version. It’s good to find a balance. Since I made her ears so prominent and gave her a tail, it’s very clear she’s a mouse so I can afford to take liberties with other parts of her design.

 

I’ve gone with a longer style in the end,


Secondary Animal Features

Different characters with different purposes will approach this step in unique ways. Take stock of what features your animal has that have yet to be added. Now is the time to decide which ones you want to incorporate and to what exempt.

In the mouses case, I’ve given her ears as a defining feature as well as a visible tail. Because of these I can afford to be more subtle with any secondary feature’s, or even ignore them outright.

But if I had been more subtle with the animal features up until now, this would be where I really pulled from the animal for inspiration.

For example, as well as not giving her short hair I’ve decided that I’m not giving her whiskers on her face , no matter how cute they are. She is supposed to be a human as well.

 

Too many animal features can make her just look like a mouse on two legs.

For other designs, secondary features like antenna, plumes, and paws can be added in this step.


Color

This step is probably the most experimental, since there’s no hard and fast rule to follow. Consider the colors of other characters that may appear alongside this one is important, as not to have them clash or match too much. But in this case it’s only her so I won’t need to keep that in mind as much.

For the first one, I took inspiration from picture of albino rats/mice. Some people find them creepy with their red eyes though. I gave her a sunny yellow dress to keep her looking chipper and because red and yellow are quite complimentary.

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Fort the second, I did something a bit different. When I was drawing her eyes I looked up some gyaru make up styles as inspiration. Because of that I wanted to call back to gal style by making a brown mouse with blonde hair. The warm pink goes really well with the warm tone of her skin.

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For the final one, I really let the dress lead. I’ve been thinking of a name for her, and Periwinkle came to mind. So I made the dress that color, and tried to find a hair color that suited it. Th blonde hair and pretty brown eyes work well with the color I think.


I’ve made my decision on this color scheme for her! (I like them all so I may make different versions of her later.)

I think I’m happy with her design! I hope my process and explaining how I approach a hybrid character design could provide insight and help guide your own process as well.

For the mouse, I wanted her to be a fairytale character. A fun silhouette with less importance on realism and more on creating an appealing design. How did I do?



(((Here’s a look at my workspace as well for those also using an iPad. With the little fairy’s sketch as well.)))

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