Category: Tutorials

Character and Creature Designer Tips

Today I came across to an artist that wanted to get some feedback on what to do next in order to get a job in the industry, while I am not a Character Designer, or a concept artist, I still had some views, and I have spent a little bit of time to formulate a constructed email. Hours later, I thought that this kind of feedback could be used by other people.

Before I give this feedback away, i’d like to point out that every person is different and you should be flexible on doing on what works or does not work for you.
So before we move forward, id like to share this link.
This guy is really good at explaining the difference on being an illustrator to a designer.
So, things to consider when being an emerging artist:
  • What came first, the egg or the chicken? In this case scenario how ever, its the portfolio and the website. A great portfolio might work very well as a hard copy brochure or a PDF, but nothing works better than giving a link (preferably just your name, or a incredibly short and/or easy name to remember) to show your work. So you should look for options on working on your website. But I do not think that you should necessarily work in just one, or the other. But having a basic, simple, minimalist, and straight to the point website works the best. Does not matter how ugly is your website if you have an amazing portfolio to show. You can always make your website better, but your website is simply and merely a tool to show your work and a frame of your work.
    I find this a very good example. lazaruz
  • Your portfolio should sell well what was the main objective/brief of the drawing. What are you trying to sell? what are you communicating? what was the purpose of your drawing? Who is the creature/character? and what the history and story behind it? But most importantly: What makes great character design great? A thoughtful process and a wow factor. When you create a character/creature. Ask your self as many questions as you can continually on what makes that character the character and its hierarchy to follow. Its easy to stop to think what or who are you drawing, and just texture, color and paint away. But sometimes you have to pause, look back, and ask your self the questions of what makes it.
    I found this pinterest board, and its stuff its delicious: Comparing the works in between can be a good example.
  • Presentation is the last key point on showcasing your work, is your work good enough to show? Avoid your art to be daft and sketchy qualities. (unless you indicate well that its a WIP or sketch) try to make sure that the brush strokes are not obviously seen unless its the nature of your art piece. Be careful and be sure to deliver the last 5% of your work. Also, framing, angle and use of white space is important. If you are doing to be a character designer, you have to show graphic design qualities that are shown in your work. For the nature of design, its important that the whole body is displayed, preferably in front, back and 3/4. If you have a design that might display different color and/or variations, that differs. In other case scenarios you might show the subject in different lighting conditions. Some characters could show different stages such as damage, age, for different angles of the different parts to clearly show better its intention from the design.
  • Last, some characters work really well on having a white background, but also try mid range greys. The reason behind this, its because its much easier to distinguish the different values. Also, the more research, the better. Do not be content with keep working on the first iteration, if anything, work on creating a lot of concepts, silhouettes and forms before picking one. And never be attached on anything you do, because changes are, when you are working, your boss/supervisor might think your design is amazing or great, but the design might not work for its purpose, and then it might be have to be done all over again.
  • Network. Find how you can meet people that are in the same industry and have the same interests. Ask around and see who you can meet. And learn to work in production environments. Time your self how long it is taking you to do the different designs and think how long can you take to do the different areas.
So, a summary:
1, make a website, do not worry on how good/bad it is, but on having your best work on site
2, before on starting new pieces or works, think well or ask someone to give you a brief for practice
3, presentation, framing, last qualities, placing your work in a good frame with the cherry on the top
4, detachment to your work and experimentation
What I would recommend for new aspiring artists or designers to do to build a new portfolio, its to focus on a project where several animals/creatures/people might be in an set environment. Does not mind if its a fantasy, sci fi or earthly place. But do several designs in the same universe to give a chance for the viewer to be immersed in a world where its all plausible. Before you start drawing of course, spend good thoughtful time on things as mood, setting, color, feel, style, etc.

To do this, make a word/google doc that explains the different qualities of the story/place in 1 to 2 pages. You can share this with a friend for feedback.

Even better, how about coming up with a well constructed character template?
This might be a little bit too in depth, but you get the idea!
Published on: 27 December 2014
Posted by: Paco Casares

A celebration to a lovely 2014

I must say that the last past months has passed very fast, and I have not updated the website with anything juicy or interesting for a while, so id like to apologize and explain why:

  • I have been working super, and incredibly hard, all jobs has been intense, but with amazing perks that enhanced learning and productivity skills, all projects with great and amazing opportunities that enabled me to learn to be faster and accurate.
  • Most, if not all of the work I have been doing, is all Non disclosure Agreed. So I even do I have done some exciting work, I can’t show until a later future! There is a project that I would like to show rather soon with some permission as it finalized back in the second week of September.

At my time off I have been doing my own teaching with Unreal 4 and PBR with unity and marmoset sky box. It has been all very exciting stuff, but at the same time, its nothing to really show other than simply understanding what it is all about. Perhaps I could write a tutorial about it?

Lately I have been also a bit involved with an app on my phone. Id like to share a new button on my website, a button to my Pinterest account. I shall create it, bind it and share it on my website for everyone to share and view. I must say its an amazing tool to quickly put together visual information to a tutorial, environment, research or idea, while at the same time be organized to what ever you are looking for, can be there.

Some of my boards include topology tips, anatomy references, texturing techniques and resources as ps brushes and textures.

I have been using Pinterest for a very little time, but when ever I shall find an interesting article that can be shared, I shall share it here.

A sample of boards at my account

A sample of boards at my account, it may be limited at the moment, but I am looking forward to keep adding


I am going to have a few days off in the next 10 days or so (thank god its xmas) because I am pretty itchy to make some thoughtful art to show.

As I mentioned earlier, I am very interested in PRB, and I’d like to explore it while using Unreal 4, so in the next few days id like to show some progress shots of a personal project that I am doing of an environment. Its an illustrated piece by an Australian artist, but recreated in Unreal 4. Currently I have only done some blocking and have put some ideas together, so its too soon to show anything. But its certainly in my interest to show a demo reel about this environment with some WIP shots. I have made sure that the piece is very minimal with a low list of assets. So should be done right away.

To give away a little a little treat, id l couple of works I have done in the past weeks for a very old project that I worked back in 2007. I thought the original art was not up to my new standards. So I have re imagined them and remade them. Here I present you Orpy and Lyde. A couple of creatures for Glow.

Before I do however, id like to wish you all a lovely merry Xmas and a fantastic new year!

A flaming sea horse

A flaming sea horse

A hermit crab

A hermit crab



Published on: 21 December 2014
Posted by: Paco Casares

New nDo2 Tutorial

nDo2 is a image to normal map plugin used to photoshop, uses similar technologies as Crazy Bump

To make things more exiting, lets give this plugging a look by following this tutorial.

Great thanks to John Valenti for his great effort to put the tutorial together!

Published on: 28 August 2012
Posted by: Paco Casares