Creature design archive

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After nearly 1,5 years of writing articles, it's time to backtrack a bit and make you some archives! This time it's about creature design as that's the one that's covered the most. So here you go, sit down, relax, and flip through this overview without having to worry that you missed something! Click on the image or the link to proceed to the related article. The last update stems from 21-03-2022.

Hi! My name is Tessa, I’m a Dutch artist, specializing in wildlife and creature designs. I love to share my passion for nature, art and fantasy, and do that by creating this archive and community, alongside my company Tez Art & Design.

Table of Contents (Click to (un)fold)

Gathering resources for your creature design

Gathering resources for your creature design.
Image by: Tessa Geniets

Creature design is a relatively small, but flourishing field. Up to roughly 20 years ago, you needed a giant library to be able to make effective designs, and information on the subject was very hard to get. That is different now in the age of the internet. We have all the information at our fingertips. But too much choice can be overwhelming too. So how do you effectively gather resources for your creature designs?

Gathering resources for your creature designs – Life to Legend

What makes a good creature design

What makes a good creature design
Image by: AJ Ramos

Creature design is a wonderful subject. Few artists didn’t attempt at least once to make a creature design work. Be that a hybrid, a whole new creature, or maybe a design that roots into some form of technology. But what makes a good creature design? Surrounded by fauns and mermaids, chimera and centaurs, one may think ‘oh, creature design is easy, we take one part, and add another animal part, maybe even a third and we’re done. But it isn’t that simple. Sure, we can make wonderful creature designs by cutting and pasting animal parts, but true creature design is FAR more than that.

What makes a good creature design – Life to Legend

The importance of environments in your creature design + case study

The importance of environmens in your creature design + case study
Image by: Tessa Geniets

Evolutionarily seen, animals are subject to their environment. There are only a few species that can build their environment around them, like humans, and arguably apes. But even so, we had to climb the evolutionary ladder to get where we are at now. And all that time we were subject to our environment. We even are now to this day in our own artificial environments. It’s no different for surreal creatures. so let us dive into the importance of environments in your creature design!

The importance of environments in your creature design + case study – Life to Legend

11 tips for creating your own creature design

11 tips for creating your own creature design.
Image by: Tessa Geniets

11 tips for creating your own creature design will help you in the right direction when you’re looking to become a creature designer, or want to broaden your expertise with creature design. Learn about the importance of environment, behavior, anatomy, storytelling and more!

11 tips for creating your own creature design – Life to Legend

What is concept art

What is concept art.
Illustration by: Tessa Geniets.

When I just started drawing I had a lot of difficulties understanding the difference between ‘normal’ art and concept art. To me, concept art more often than not looked finished and polished or fully rendered. While at the same time some specific art styles looked unfinished to me, or as something I’d expect to be a concept. I know that with me there are far more people that don’t understand what concept art really is. And the truth is: You can’t tell by just looking at it. There is just one key ingredient to be able to tell if it’s concept art or not: Was it meant to serve as a concept or not. Like in most branches, concept art is also important for creature designers. Especially so because most of the time you will be spending your time generating ideas and things that don’t exist.

What is concept art – Life to Legend

Blue sky phase – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 1

Blue sky phase – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 1
Illustration by: Tessa Geniets

Concept art is idea-generating based on a prompt or brief. This brief can be as simple as ‘We need ideas for tundra type creatures that can be used as mount’, or as complex as an iconic boss with a huge back history. The process that follows is usually the same and can slightly vary depending on your client or studio you work for.

Blue Sky phase – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 1 – Life to Legend

Refining the best concept – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 2

Refining the best concept – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 2
Image by: Tessa Geniets

Concept art can be roughly divided into three phases. The idea-generating part is also known as the Blue Sky phase. The refining of the favorite concept. And finally the full render of the initial idea. The second part, refining the best concept, is all about figuring out the favored design. Depending on the client or the studio you work for you may have to answer to one person only (what that person decides goes) or discuss it with a board.

Refining the best concept – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 2 – Life to Legend

Rendering the final concept – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 3

Rendering the final concept – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 3
Image by: Tessa Geniets

Rendering the final pick of all the concepts you sent in earlier is much the same as any drawing. There are however some things you might need to keep in mind, depending on your client and the project you’re working on. You might wonder why rendering is even part of concept art to begin with, because concept art is everything but rendering the artwork. Allow me to explain.

Rendering the final concept – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 3 – Life to Legend

The concepting of Flax – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 4


The concepting of Flax – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 4
Image by: Tessa Geniets

Concept art has many facets. One of the most important ones is storytelling. Your concept could just be of a generic creature someone could get across, but won’t think more of. Or a leading one, like Flax, a prominent mount in the storyline. Both types have a clear overlap in how you should approach them. Habitat should be taken into account as well as functional anatomy based on their habitat and behavior. But there is way more to a character or creature that has a prominent place in a story. And Flax, a Lutherial Vixen is a good example of that.

The concepting of Flax – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 4 – Life to Legend

The storyline of Flax, the Lutherial Vixen – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 5

The storyline of Flax, the Lutherial Vixen – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 5
Image by: Tessa Geniets

The storyline of Flax is an important part of creating a good concept for a story. Although little was known about her or the story beforehand, the concepts helped to develop said story and took it into directions nobody thought of before.

The storyline of Flax, the Lutherial Vixen – What to expect as a concept artist – Part 5 – Life to Legend

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