Creature Design: Arachnomorph Alpha

Balancing Contrast, Using Rendering to Describe Form

In this demonstration you’ll get an inside look at my process for designing comic style creatures! More specifically, we’ll be working on a design that takes a humanoid figure, and an arachnid, and combines them into the savage, man hunting Arachnomorph!

Like most of my characters, I began this creature design with a very basic foundation that was used to establish its overall structure, pose and placement on the page. Since the design was essentially a humanoid arachnid, I tried to implement the kind of characteristics you might see on a spider or scorpion, such as multiple sets of eyes, legs and arms. I even gave him mandibles to really hit the point home.

The pose needed to appear powerful and authoritive, as if he was the alpha Arachnomorph of his tribe. And I’d later push that tribal feel later on in the design of his attire. I wanted this creature to look savage, like a hunter of some sort. The movie Predator came to mind here as I recalled the alien hunter who took out an entire group of highly trained operatives one by one.  

After the basic sketch was down, I began articulating the finer details of the Arachnomorph’s design, such as the creature’s anatomy, and the tribal looking attire he was to wear. 

Usually I like to follow a fairly rigid process when it comes to producing comic art. I’ll start out with a basic outline for the design, and then refine it by going over the top with some clean, carefully weighted contours. From there I’ll drop in the shadows and then the rendering. However in this particular instance, I did all of that at once, completing the character in sections rather than gradually building it up in passes. 

Spiders are oftentimes hairy, so I implemented a fur like material throughout his design, suggesting that he might use it to protect himself from the elements and stay warm. This fur was then bound with leather and decorative rope like materials to complete the aesthetic of his clothing. I wanted to imply that within his tribe, he was of an extremely high status.

Rendering and details were distributed throughout the creature’s design to create a careful balance of contrast which gave it a greater readability. It was important to ensure that amid all the detail, there were areas where the eye could rest. A pattern of various tones was composed to strategically lead the viewer’s attention throughout the design toward key areas of focus.

As the Arachnomorph’s design came together I began to form a potential backstory for the creature. They imagined them being the dominant species inhabiting a post-apocalyptic Earth where most of humanity had been wiped out. The last of mankind were hunted down by the Arachnomorph’s both as a food source, and for sport. 

I often find that the final design of a character or creature inspires the story that surrounds them. For me, this is the best way to work, as opposed to basing the design on a pre-written brief. Creativity needs room to roam, and when it becomes too confined to a set list of parameters, it loses the ability to fully blossom.

Sometimes I’ll forget about the process and just go with the flow, letting my creativity take over and fully immerse myself in the task at hand. Some artists might call this the zone, and it truly is the sweet spot I like to be in for maximum productivity. Time passes by without you noticing, and you almost forget you’re at the drawing board. It’s as if your unconscious mind takes over and you’re one with the process.

Needless to say, I was extremely happy with the final outcome of this creature design. The Arachnomorph is most certainly a character I’d like to explore further down the line, maybe within the pages of a post-apocalyptic comic book.

I hope you enjoy the video! 

Thanks for watching! 
-Clayton

 

Software Used: Manga Studio

 

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