How to create a super-realistic fantasy creature

Fantasy creature: final

Painting a fantasy creature can be a lot of fun. In my opinion, you’ll struggle to find any subject that gives you more freedom to explore your ideas than creating a creature. Yet it’s this same freedom that can overwhelm many artists and lead to some serious design issues. Once you accept the fact that you’re not bound by previously established notions of how your painting should look, you then become responsible for defining every single detail about this life form.

Where does it live? What does it eat? How does it move? Where does it sit in the food chain? It’s in this moment that most mistakes are made. The two most common ones are either copying a real-life animal too much and ending up with something that, say, looks like a horse in a different colour, or creating something so alien-looking that no one knows what it is. For more creature design considerations, see our creature design tips piece.

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Roberto is a creature design enthusiast and a freelance artist. He spends almost all of his time painting weird creatures or thinking about them.