Friday, October 2, 2015

How to create an Anthropomorphic Character, Digital Painting Photoshop

When creating an anthropomorphic character I find it extremely helpful to have a base character to start from. Such as Beauty Smith from the book White Fang by Jack London. As you can see I transformed this character in the book into an alligator person. 

While you may be an excellent artist, it is also always very important to find good source material. That is a reference which you can use to help you create a believable character. I've seen artist try to create their artwork of specific things from memory only, and usually it just doesn't turn out to look believable. 

When creating this digital painting, I actually went online and found real photographs of alligators, I found close up pictures of their scales and their eyes. However, this does not mean that I copied or plagiarized! Every good artist that I know makes sure to use reference material, however none of them copy their work directly. If I wanted to I could have easily just done a photorealistic painting of the same alligator that I found online. Now that would be plagiarism, but I didn't do that, I simply used the image of the alligator to get the form, texture, and shadows correct, everything else is my own invention. I did the same thing for the eyes.

Now some of you may be thinking: "But this isn't a photorealistic piece of artwork..." And that is true, and I take particular pride in that fact, because what good is an artist if the artist is simply creating photorealistic pieces when a camera or machine can do the same thing in mere seconds? The job of true artists is to add beauty and communicate their particular message to their audience, not simply to recreate the world as it is, but perhaps to reform the world into something better, or even as it should be. 

Reality is more malleable than we might tend to think. 

Excerpt from White Fang by Jack London (1876–1916):

This man was called "Beauty" by the other men of the fort. No one knew his first name, and in general he was known in the country as Beauty Smith. But he was anything save a beauty. To antithesis was due his naming. He was pre minently unbeautiful. Nature had been niggardly with him. He was a small man to begin with; and upon his meagre frame was deposited an even more strikingly meagre head. Its apex might be likened to a point. In fact, in his boyhood, before he had been named Beauty by his fellows, he had been called "Pinhead." 

Backward, from the apex, his head slanted down to his neck; and forward, it slanted uncompromisingly to meet a low and remarkably wide forehead. Beginning here, as though regretting her parsimony, Nature had spread his features with a lavish hand. His eyes were large, and between them was the distance of two eyes. His face, in relation to the rest of him, was prodigious. In order to discover the necessary area, Nature had given him an enormous prognathous jaw. It was wide and heavy, and protruded outward and down until it seemed to rest on his chest. Possibly this appearance was due to the weariness of the slender neck, unable properly to support so great a burden. 

This jaw gave the impression of ferocious determination. But something lacked. Perhaps it was from excess. Perhaps the jaw was too large. At any rate, it was a lie. Beauty Smith was known far and wide as the weakest of weak-kneed and snivelling cowards. To complete his description, his teeth were large and yellow, while the two eye-teeth, larger than their fellows, showed under his lean lips like fangs. His eyes were yellow and muddy, as though Nature had run short on pigments and squeezed together the dregs of all her tubes. It was the same with his hair, sparse and irregular of growth, muddy-yellow and dirty-yellow, rising on his head and sprouting out of his face in unexpected tufts and bunches, in appearance like clumped and wind-blown grain. 

In short, Beauty Smith was a monstrosity, and the blame of it lay elsewhere.