The Mentor Experiment: Silhouettes and Animal Anatomy: Part 1

For the past several weeks we have been looking at drawing humans. This week we turn our attention to creature design, by way of silhouettes. Many of the fantastical creatures you’ve seen in comics and movies have real animals as their primary influence. How do we come up with interesting and unusual creature designs? One method is to graft different animals together and explore different options of the grafting by way of silhouette.

I asked a few folks on Twitter which animals they’d like me to use for my example. Below is a duck grafted to a hippo. With this design, I chose to mix and match pieces of anatomy from one animal to the other. On the left, we have a duck-faced hippo. On the right we have a hippo-faced duck, and below we have hybrids of the two.

animal anatomy Part 1: Hippo and Duck

Next is an otter grafted to a caribou. You can start to see some interesting possibilities when you mix and match parts, right?

animal anatomy Part 1: Otter and Caribou

Part 1 will focus on developing silhouettes from some interesting animal hybrids. Use references and focus on the silhouette. I used the lasso tool in Photoshop to “carve” out the shapes. Using this approach is quick and easy – because you’re not focusing on details, just the silhouette. You can add or subtract color with the Lasso tool by hitting (Option-Backspace or Alt-Backspace) once you’ve made a lasso selection. Similarly, you can select an area of the silhouette and cut elements out (via Control-X or Cmd-X).

Your assignment is to create hybrid creature silhouettes for the following:

1. Tiger and a monkey
2. aardvark and a kangaroo

Part 2 will focus on tricks to push the designs even further.

Good luck!


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