Hybrid Character: Tips and Tricks to Design Your Character 

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蒼琉夜

蒼琉夜

Intro

Hybrid character have always been a staple in art and stories. Of course, hybrids creatures don’t exist in real life, therefore there’s a lot of freedom in these designs. This tutorial will be several tips and tricks on how to design the characters you want.

Foundation

Before we start designing our creatures, it’s important to understand the basics of the human form.

For example, one thing to keep in mind is the ratio of the anatomy. Some simple things like how the elbow is near the navel, how your wrists would settle at the top of the thighs when in a neutral position, and how your thighs and lower legs are the same length. Knowing these simple information helps to know how to exaggerate and transform a simple human-like figure into a creature.

 

A lot of hybrid creatures have some human-like parts in their designs, whether it’s in their expressions or in their anatomy, that’s why it is important to know the basics of the human body to identify which parts you can incorporate into your creature.

What makes them different? Their forms? Their gesture? When drawing something out of the norm, you have to know which parts will remain universal as you add a variety of non-human features.

 

For this reason, it’s important to know the basic shapes of the human skeleton. Even if you don’t know the names of the bones themselves, it’s good to know where to inject the variety of features to make the designs seem natural.

For this tutorial, I didn’t include the arms in the side view of the skeleton so that the view of the shoulder blade and pelvis isn’t covered, but please look at them when you’re designing your character.

Incorporating anatomy into your design

1. Beast-like men

In this section, we’ll begin with what I personally think is the most basic hybrid design. I don’t mean basic as in it’s easy, rather the fact that the bone structures used as a base is a human’s and it is simpler to add animal-like feature to something you’re familiar with.

For example, here we have a dog skeleton structure to use as comparison.

 

Human skeletons look like they have a unique structure when standing, however looking at it from the side, we can see that it is similar to the dog’s. The main difference is that humans are bipedal while dogs are quadrupedal.

That’s why, combining the two isn’t that complicated.

 

Rather than trying to make the dog look more human, it’s easier to add the dog features into the human anatomy, more specifically the head and legs.

With the basic bone structure idea in place, let’s continue by sketching out the basic form with the skeleton structure in mind.

 

First, block out the basic shapes of the body.

Then, clean up your sketch. Add fur around the body.

Now that we have the basic form ready, let’s go to the different parts of the body.

(i) Head

Starting with the head, first start with a base circle. Here you can start sketching where the muzzle would be by drawing a smaller circle on the lower half of the circle. Then add 2 triangles on top of the circle for the ears.

To draw the muzzle, draw 2 lines from the where smaller circle is and connect the two lines with a curve. Imagine it’s someone drinking from a cup.

Animals tend to have fuller cheeks that are soft, so extend the sides of the circle and make it a rounded diamond shape.

Next draw the neck the same size as the head.

Clean up the sketch by drawing thick tufts of fur around the cheeks and neck and add details around the ears and muzzle too.

(ii) Hands

With hands, it’s easier to add more dog features as you go and choose which amount of details you prefer for your design.

 

For example, you can have a human hand with fur growing on it.

Or you can add paw pads and claws on the hands. This creates a balance between the human-like shape and the beast-like details.

Finally, you can make it more animal-like by making the fingers thicker and shorter and making the paw pads bigger.

(iii) Feet

I like to approach feet the same way I do hands.

 

First option is a normal human-like feet with fur.

Or you can reduce the number of toes to 4 to make it resemble paws and lift the heel higher.

And another way is to make it more similar to the original animal.

Finally, combine these features together.

Notes

Of course, this is just one animal. There are countless animals you can choose out there and each one have different characteristics depending on the species and such.

 

For example, cats have shorter and flatter muzzle.

Or maybe you want to make a sheep, which have a bigger muzzle that starts from the upper part of the head.

Always look for references and pay attention to their characteristics so that you can incorporate them to your design.

2. Half-man, half-beast

With half-man and half-beast creatures, the most important thing is to know where to connect the two parts together. When you combine two creatures together, you need to think of the proportions and the movement of the creature. Let’s say you place the human part of the body too high on the animal torso. If you place the human torso too high above the animal part, it might hurt the lower back of the creature when they’re standing, or it might be too unbalanced when they run around.

 

For these, let’s use a centaur and mermaid to explore the ways you can connect a human torso to an animal body.

(i) Centaur

To understand how to connect a human torso and a horse body, let’s look at the skeletal structure of the two.

Structure wise, like the dog, the two aren’t very different. That makes it easy to combine the two skeletons.

 

Look at the forms that are similar between the two. In this case it would be the horse’s neck and the human’s spine.

Following that logic, the scapula/shoulder blade of the horse skeleton becomes the pelvic area that connects the human torso to the horse body.

Now that you have an idea of how they work, you can use that as a base to sketch out your centaurs.

When adding details to your character, think of the setting where your character will exist.

 

In the case of this centaur, I picture that they would live in the forests, or in areas with a lot of nature, so I add leaves and plants onto their design and try to keep the characters themselves look as natural as possible without a lot of human-like accessories like clothes or metal-based objects. Of course how you add details is entirely up to your liking.

(ii) Mermaid

Unlike humans and horses, fish and humans have a very different skeletal structure.

 

Simplifying it, a fish is generally a head attached to a long spine with a tail at the end.

Using the same method as the centaur, what we’re going to do is find a similar structure between the two and connect them. In this case, it would be the spine.

So to do this, we take the human torso and the pelvis, and then we continue the spine to make the fish portion at the lower part of the body.

What’s important to remember here is that, since we’re essentially combining the two legs together and turning it into the spine, the length of the tail at the minimum has to be the same length as the legs and where the feet would be is the location of the tail.

Of course, this isn’t the definitive way to draw a mermaid. With fantasy creatures such as these, there is no one correct way to it. Therefore different ideas can often connect and lead to a design that is different from the norm. For example, instead of making the lower part of the body one big tail fin, what if you end up giving the creature 2 tail fins that makes it look like legs?

While this isn’t necessarily what the general public thinks of when they think of a mermaid, it doesn’t mean that you can’t design them these ways.

 

Now that we have the base body, let’s focus on the details of the mermaid.

 

  • Fins

To add more to the aesthetics, what I like to do is to replace the ear with a more fish-like feel by turning it into a fin.

Of course you can also add it in other locations, for example, fish have gills so they can breathe underwater and these tend to be placed in the area of the head that connects to the body.

 

Sketch where the human ear would be and draw the fin underneath that.

Then, erase the ears and connect the fin to the side of the head.

Or you can add both designs to the side of the head, and maybe add another fin on the arms too.

Similar to the centaur, think of the environment where your character exists. Since this creature lives underwater, I gave him hair that flows and I try to make it look like they’re also fins.

  • Hands

Creatures that live in or near water usually have webbed feet to help them move quickly through the water, that’s why when it comes to mermaid hands, I like to add webbing in between the fingers.

3. Human-like beast

Another way to create hybrids is adding human features into an animal. You can easily do this by making an animal act more human-like, maybe something like a cat standing on two legs while having the same proportions of a normal cat.

 

Or you can do it by adding human body proportions onto an animal.

 

For example, let’s take this bird.

It’s just a regular bird, but there are different ways to add human-like features to it. For starters, instead of having a regular bird head, what if we replace if with a human-like face to allow human-like expressions?

 

Let’s start by drawing a normal human head.

Next, around the back of the head to the neck area, add feathers in a similar fashion to normal hair.

Then, add tufts of fur under the eyes and around the lower part of the face to add smaller and softer feather-like effect on the face.

Let’s attach it back to the torso.

Of course, this is already a hybrid on it’s own, but what if we push it further?

 

Before we begin, let’s look at the structure of a bird’s wing.

If we compare it to a human arm, they are different but there are parts that look similar enough that you can combine them.

For example, (1) is similar to a human shoulder and (2) is similar to a human’s arm and (3) is similar to a hand.

 

The details are more complicated, but once you see it, you can inject more human features into it.

 

For example, in area (3) of the bird we’re drawing, what if we extend it a bit and give it a hand and turn the fingers into a talon.

Attaching this hand back onto the bird, the original bird is already transformed even further.

But what if this isn’t enough? Why don’t we alter the legs as well? Let’s give the thighs and lower leg a human-like form while keeping the talons.

 

Let’s break down the silhouette of the leg to get an understanding of the shape.

Let’s replace that with a human leg silhouette while keeping the talons.

Add tufts of fur on the leg to draw the feathers and clean up the talons.

And finally add the back leg and the other hand.

In this case, the base form is that of a bird, but by injecting human-like features to the face, wings, and legs, we created a hybrid while keeping the torso the same.

 

The proportions may not fit that of a person, but because we’re using an animal as the base form, it doesn’t look too out of place.

Conclusion

Thank you for reading this post until the end. I hope you were able to learn a bit from this tutorial. When it comes to hybrid creatures, there are no rules or boundaries that limit your creativity. Whether it’s combining humans with animals, or even animals with another animal, the possibilities are endless. In the end, my one rule is to draw whatever it is that you want to and to keep exploring the different ideas you come up with. While there is no way to come up with something truly unique, the creatures you researched and designed are “yours” and that’s all that matters.

 

I hope you stay tuned to the next tutorial as well!

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