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Video Aaron's Art Tips - 13 Grounding Your Creature Designs In Reality


  • hey everybody every blaze here and
  • welcome to another episode of Aaron's
  • art-tips number 13 okay everybody so
  • today I want to talk to you about
  • creature design because I like to do a
  • lot of that kind of stuff I've done it
  • for other films that I've worked on and
  • a lot of things that I see people just
  • starting out doing is not doing enough
  • research so what I want to talk about
  • today is is grounding your creature
  • designs in reality one of the things I
  • like to think about is that even if
  • something is evolving on another planet
  • or something like that we're all kind of
  • slave to the same forces whether it's
  • gravity or or living in a wet
  • environment or whatever that are going
  • to kind of shape and mold our evolutions
  • so there's going to be a lot of
  • similarities and so I always recommend
  • doing your research look at what's
  • evolved beforehand before you start to
  • create your own creatures but before
  • that I want to cover a couple of things
  • first of all I want to I want to give a
  • shout out to a friend of mine who's just
  • created amazing a kind of supplemental
  • book for animation it's a great resource
  • for getting ideas for drawing posing a
  • storyboarding that sort of thing it's
  • the it's the pose drawing spark book and
  • I really recommend you go check it out
  • this is a guy that we kind of met during
  • our Kickstarter campaigns and we kind of
  • cross pollinate it a little bit and I
  • really really I loved I loved the book I
  • ordered the book myself it's a done by
  • Cedric Hahn stat and go check out his
  • his website it's right here and and just
  • check out the book I really recommend it
  • it's you know it's a relatively small
  • amount of money to pay for some of the
  • great
  • ideas that are in there next obviously I
  • always got to give a shout-out to my
  • friends over at Wacom please check out
  • their website wao cor time w eh c om
  • calm and and check out their products
  • I've been using them for years now and I
  • love them all so big deal my website
  • creature art teacher calm is completely
  • going through a facelift you can see it
  • now and some changes have already
  • happened once again it's creature art
  • teacher calm you there you're going to
  • find tutorials on photoshop painting
  • drawing illustration all kinds of
  • different things animation and and over
  • the coming months we're going to be kind
  • of increasing the amount of stuff that
  • that you'll be able to get including
  • entire downloadable courses and
  • animation and drawing and painting and
  • that sort of thing
  • so anyway so let's get back to why we're
  • here and I'm going to brush off the dust
  • on my computer and that is let's just
  • talk about creature design and grounding
  • it in reality I'm just going to pull up
  • some examples of some of the things that
  • I've done in the past there's a while
  • back that I was creating these creatures
  • for a story that we were doing and there
  • are these creatures that lived in the
  • forest now the premise the idea is that
  • they've lived in the forest for years
  • and years and we've never seen them
  • there's a lot of mythical creatures that
  • we have like that with whether they be
  • elves or imps or fairies or whatever but
  • we wanted to base this in reality what
  • if they were really they're like we
  • could walk out of my door right now and
  • if we just knew how to find them we
  • could find them how in the heck would
  • they have evolved and so that was the
  • from for me as the designer and coming
  • up with some of these ideas I started
  • thinking about okay well there's
  • creatures out there now that live in
  • those same circumstances and I started
  • drawing ideas for them I'm going to pull
  • over a couple right now in particular I
  • started looking at mimicry and
  • camouflage in different insects and
  • I was fascinated by the variety now I've
  • always kind of you know growing up sorry
  • I'm just kind of slow my mouse isn't
  • working very well I've always been
  • fascinated by these creatures you know
  • when I was a kid and I'm sure we all did
  • we caught walking sticks and and praying
  • mantis and leaf insects but some of
  • these just really floored me
  • you know this katydid here it's amazing
  • how nature through evolution has created
  • these creatures that can so mimic
  • something that is well it's just amazing
  • to me and I look at these I look at
  • these leaf insects and go you know what
  • if I were walking in the forest I would
  • never ever see them so then I started to
  • apply these ideas after doing this
  • research I did a ton more research than
  • this but I started applying these ideas
  • to some of these creatures that I
  • started to design now we have these leaf
  • fairy creatures that I started looking
  • at mantis insects and if you look at
  • this um this image in particular you can
  • see that you kind of have to get to take
  • a double take to actually see the stick
  • insect in there and that was a really
  • big inspiration for me in creating this
  • image right here of these leaf fairies
  • now I'm going to blow this up and now
  • you can see you can see the inspiration
  • that I got I went out and I went to some
  • gardens and I photographed the gardens
  • and I decide you know I want this to be
  • real so I I just let the photograph the
  • photograph of the flowers be real and I
  • painted these insects insects I painted
  • these fairies into the scene but I
  • wanted them to have kind of a real-world
  • feel like they kind of evolved alongside
  • insects and so I gave them these mimicry
  • traits where they could blend right in
  • to their background and you may never
  • see them and but I gave them kind of the
  • forward-facing eyes hands and that sort
  • of thing that would make them familiar
  • to us and kind of bridge that gap okay
  • so that was that one so we started
  • thinking a little bit more about some of
  • these other creatures these these
  • insects here and we thought okay well
  • what if there was kind of a humanoid
  • type less
  • small creature elf like let's say and
  • may what if they could grow kind of
  • mimic leaves off their skin just like
  • like a bird grows feathers and they
  • could control those those leaves or
  • feathers and fluff them out and turn
  • into a bush and you would walk right
  • past them so I started coming up with
  • some different ideas and these are some
  • of the ones that I came out with this
  • was an image of blow that up there
  • this was a little shot in my front yard
  • and I went outside took the photograph
  • and then I photographed all these
  • different leaves and stuff in different
  • positions and then started painting this
  • elf into the background but gave her the
  • spots all a different camouflage the
  • leaves growing off of her head instead
  • of hair that would now allow her to
  • blend into her background and once we
  • once we landed on this conceit this this
  • thing that was grounded in reality the
  • the idea has really started flowing out
  • this was an earlier one that this was
  • the idea that this before we actually
  • came up with the idea that everything
  • would grow off of them we had the idea
  • that okay they were green and they had
  • all these markings that like frogs that
  • help them blend in but maybe they they
  • took different grasses and flowers and
  • things like that and kind of adorned
  • themselves and they could blend in even
  • more and so that's how this one evolved
  • and so that was kind of fun and then and
  • here was another one that where they
  • were the leaves and everything are
  • growing right off of her skin this is
  • big eyes for obvious reasons but you
  • could see how the skin just starts to
  • develop into these leaf like growths and
  • whatever but we still wanted to have a
  • bit of an appeal there so that was a lot
  • of fun and then ultimately there's
  • another creature now this one we felt
  • was probably a little bit too creature
  • like you didn't have the fun to life in
  • his eyes but I kind of liked this one
  • and this is another one where the leaves
  • are growing right off of them and I want
  • everyone to have a real kind of native
  • feel so I looked at a lot
  • have at native people of like say New
  • Guinea and Central Africa and just the
  • way they stood and the way they are such
  • a part of their environment and I tried
  • to capture that and put that into this
  • little creature that that kind of grew
  • up in the kind of the same kind of
  • conditions that as maybe some of those
  • people did so what I'm doing is I'm
  • drawing from reality I'm taking what's
  • been out there I've done my research and
  • I'm applying them to my designs and
  • that's what I think is so important for
  • people designing creatures designing
  • whatever for a film understand where
  • that creature has come from how is it
  • evolved and put all that work into the
  • beginning because in the end you'll come
  • up with something that has a lot more
  • grounding in reality and it'll be a lot
  • more believable and it's research that
  • you can carry into other aspects of your
  • illustration later down the road you're
  • building up that visual library that I
  • always talk about here's one that I did
  • yesterday so I sat down yesterday
  • and I sat at my drawing board I didn't
  • have anything to do but I felt like
  • drawing just like I did when I was five
  • years old and I pick up a piece of paper
  • yesterday I sat down on my Cintiq and I
  • said okay I want to draw something I
  • think I'm going to make up a creature
  • well rather than just make something up
  • I started looking at some of my images
  • that I had shot while I was overseas a
  • couple years ago in particular I was we
  • are tracking rhinos on elephant back in
  • southern Nepal and I got some really
  • cool photos of rhinos and here's one in
  • particular that I can bring over and I
  • got really inspired by you know this
  • mother and calf and and the horn and and
  • just I'm always fascinated about the
  • variety of of evolutionary traits that
  • we have on planet earth whether you know
  • you can look at something from a
  • jellyfish to us and everything in
  • between and the variety is just
  • incredible through insects and
  • everything else and and and so I started
  • looking at just how would I apply my own
  • thing I could I could grab all these
  • different traits from different animals
  • around the world and I could create my
  • own creature but I wanted it to be
  • grounded in reality so I started
  • thinking about okay these rhinos I was
  • looking at the horn and the shape of the
  • head and that body armor and
  • they kind of live in this wet marshy
  • environment and how they've evolved kind
  • of this tank kind of feel to plow
  • through grasses and and shrubs and that
  • sort of thing but I also started
  • thinking about okay what if this animal
  • also had some traits of let's say an
  • ostrich and you know longer legs to get
  • up above the grass a little bit and I
  • just started playing with some of these
  • different ideas and I started sketching
  • and so this was a sketch that I came up
  • with and I was very quick but I study
  • know I'm thinking about the horn on the
  • nose and the head shape for the Rhino
  • and and some of that but I wanted a you
  • know as far as locomotion goes anything
  • can happen and there's a lot of
  • different varieties of locomotion in
  • that have evolved on earth and so I
  • thought okay what about a six legged
  • creature that he's evolved back to four
  • legged but he still has those front arms
  • that he can grasp with so I gave him
  • opposable thumbs and that sort of thing
  • and maybe this thing is um neveress
  • eating both plant and animal material
  • and maybe it's a prey victim maybe it's
  • a it can become prey I should say and so
  • I gave it this tail with this big Club
  • on the end of it that you know like the
  • ankylosaurus set I think that's what the
  • right name that involved during the
  • dinosaur age that was able to defend
  • itself so I just started giving it these
  • traits but I started looking at you know
  • I started looking at bone structure you
  • know I always try to remember that
  • Anatomy and that sort of thing and and
  • just how everything kind of flows into
  • one another
  • you know comparative anatomy and tried
  • to apply it to this and so this is a
  • sketch that I came up with and then I
  • sat down started rendering and this was
  • what evolved out of that no pun intended
  • and I you know I started thinking about
  • okay he lives just like something Elzey
  • bruised and Tigers and and that sort of
  • thing he lives in a grassy environment a
  • lot of verticals maybe he's evolved
  • stripes to help him blend in and that
  • sort of thing maybe he's grown these big
  • quills on the back of its head to help
  • protect it you know that's a vulnerable
  • area if there is a predator that came
  • after it that sort of thing and so I
  • just had some fun with it
  • and anyway that's my long-winded way of
  • saying do your East
  • to ground your creatures in reality do
  • you look at look at all the different
  • things that have evolved on earth and
  • when you design a creature let's say
  • it's for you know it's involved on
  • another planet or or you're creating an
  • imaginary creature think about how that
  • creature has evolved and try to find
  • something that's closely related to it
  • that has happened here on earth and see
  • how it might compare and see how you can
  • kind of pick and choose from all the
  • different aspects of of creatures from
  • around our world and apply them to your
  • own creature okay so go out and apply
  • some of that thinking and have some fun
  • with it because this is one of my
  • favorite things to do in the world I
  • feel like a little kid you can just sit
  • down and just kind of play God and
  • create these fun mythical creatures that
  • that in another realm could be real you
  • never know and it's and it's putting
  • that research into it that pushes it
  • into that reality so go have some fun
  • apply these ideas and I'll talk to you
  • next week thanks a lot bye
  • you

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I this episode of Aaron's Art Tips Aaron will take you through his thinking in creating some of the creatures he's designed in the past. It all starts with research and looking at how some of the various creatures here on Earth have evolved the traits that they have. You can then apply that research to your own designs and create something that is believable.

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About Aaron Blaise:

Aaron Blaise is an animation feature film director and wildlife artist.

For 21 years Aaron worked with Disney helping to create some of the greatest animated films ever made. During that time he worked as an animator or supervising animator on "The Rescuers Down Under", "Beauty and the Beast", "Aladdin", "The Lion King", "Pocahontas", "Mulan" and more.

In 2003 he was co-director of "Brother Bear" for which he earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature Film.

After "Brother Bear" he helped to develop several projects but ultimately left Disney to pursue an opportunity back home in Florida. Aaron recently served as 2D Animation Supervisor and Character Designer for the "The Bear and the Hare" an advertisement loved by millions around the world. (/watch?v=XqWig2WARb0)

Aaron currently is working on his mission to bring affordable art education and animation training to the world through his website: - Download Hi-Res Songs

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