Huntin’ Down Reference

The next step on redesigning the critters is finding just the right reference.  When I began, I was very loose and did the thumbnails first.  I didn’t really have a solid direction so the thumbnails helped me to explore different avenues and find the direction that I liked in my design.

You can see with my reference below that I am tending to stay in the same neighborhood as the original critter design, but I also want to rework it and try to make this guy unique as well as more anatomically real.  Well, as real as an alien creature can be.

First off, I’m not married to the thumbnails here that I used to point out my reference.  I just wanted to point out where these inspirations would be utilized.  And let me clarify that I don’t want to copy any of the reference as is.  I want to use them to inspire me and to help illustrate to me how something works.  I don’t want this to look like a collage of animal parts.  I’m not building a chimera.  I want this to be a unique creature.

joshhagen_critter reference breakdown

That said, as you can see from my images, I have a pretty eclectic palette of animals and insects set up here.  My first thoughts were to the mouth as the critters are eating machines.  I thought of 3 animals to inspire this part of the concept: the snapping turtle, the piranha, and the bullfrog.  I wanted to keep the skull flatter so I strayed away from creatures with beaks or snouts.  Those 3 seemed like great candidates.

Next, the body.  I wanted it to be able to not only stand like the original critter, but also be on all fours coming up or forming into its ball-like form.  Bears seemed like a neat idea I thought.  I really like how a grizzly stands.  Totally changes form.  I also had some images of sun bears that I liked.  The one I have here I always wanted to do something with.  I love their silhouettes!  And as I wanted the critter to also be on all fours, I am starting to lean towards the longer arms.  The original design has the critters with tiny stubby arms and legs.  Just doesn’t work for me.  The gorilla is a great animal with longer arms than legs to inspire this direction for the new design.

And lastly, something interesting came about as I was hunting for reference.  I have tons of reference on my computer as well as many books and magazines.  One thing that I like to do is, while my reference hunt is winding down, I will look into a folder that doesn’t seem to fit at all.  Something I’m not looking for.  Some animal that is way off base for the design.  Just to see if maybe it might spark something that I didn’t think of before.  Something way out of left field can really end up being something really interesting.  This time I checked out insects and more specifically, caterpillars.

As soon as I opened up the caterpillar file I started to think about how cool it would be to use something from that insect in the design.  Why not incorporate the legs and fleshiness when the critter curls up into a ball and rolls away!  It’s way out there and I really dig the idea…….now I have to figure out how the hell to make it work.

We’ll see what happens in the next post.

Click here for part three of designing a new Critter – Finding a Direction – part 1

Click here for part one of designing a new Critter – My Kind of Critter


  1. Pingback: Direction Found |

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