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Creature Creation, Alex Rowe
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Alex Rowe, Illustrator & Children's Book Artist

Alex Rowe
Illustrator & Children’s Book Artist

♪ Alex’s Studio Playlist ♪

Prompt

Create either a predator or prey for an environment.

Core Ideas

Narrative, character design, scientific illustration

Supplies

Any color media: watercolor, colored pencil, pastels, etc.

For instruction on how to use pen with ink wash, watch this course on Historical Illustration.

Process

1.
Assign the  ecosystem and the predator/prey to a group of 3-4 students.

Creature Creation, Alex Rowe

2.
Each group writes a list of the temperature, weather patterns, plants, for each ecosystem.

Creature Creation, Alex Rowe

3.
Students acquire reference photos for features, like scales or fur.

4.
Sketch and brainstorm, researching and using reference photos for animal features such as scales, claws, etc., designs for each predator/prey with a pencil in a sketchbook.

Creature Creation, Alex Rowe

5.
Sketch creature in pencil.

Creature Creation, Alex Rowe

5.
Block in colors, finalize piece.

Creature Creation, Alex Rowe

Examples

Tina Guo

Tina Guo
Intern

One of my favourite things to do in my free time is just thinking about random things that could possibly exist in this world that would explain all those unexplainable problems in life. This project is so much fun for me, not only because I get to actually realize one of my little mind children, but also because after I went through the journey of justifying its features.

I analyzed how the creature would interact with its environment and laid them out like a biologist or ecologist would do on a field journal. I almost feel like it’s lurking beneath me right now! Everyday, I have to confront the frustrating and somewhat creepy phenomenon that whatever I drop on the ground, 95% of the time it would just disappear. This has been so persistent that I am ready to believe anything.

Thus, this project is a perfect vent for me to let out my frustration (in other words, to find a scapegoat); on top of that, I just love the role artists get to play in bridging imagination and reality! In a way, artists are like scientists, laying out the world for the viewers in a different, researched and thoughtful way.”

Stephanie Gibadlo

Stephanie Gibadlo
Project Assistant

“When starting this project, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to work with an animal that I recently discovered and become very fond of: the pangolin. This is an animal that is incredibly endangered and is the most poached animal in the world, and I believe that more people should know about them.

Working from this goal, I then picked a second animal. At first I was just thinking of animals I think would be able to make interesting visual combinations. However, I decided to pick an animal that I felt that the pangolin could relate to, as well as an animal with a story that I hope the pangolin will be able to share one day: The manatee.  

Manatees were endangered for a long time, and have fortunately very recently been taken off the endangered species list. Although manatees still face many challenges and dangers in their lives (and are still subject to injury by motor boats, so are still not entirely safe), I find their story and the people who have helped them to be inspiring. I also would love for pangolins to share their success of no longer being endangered one day, and I thank the people who are helping the pangolins for what they have done.

So for my creature creation, I decided to create the Panglotee! After looking at the traits of each species, I’ve decided that the Panglotee would live in the ocean surrounding Africa. Additionally, the Panglotee has a diet that consists of se weeds that it grabs with its long tongue, and occasionally it will use the claws on its flippers to break open shells to eat clams. The scales of the Panglotee help protect it from boats or anything else that can harm it, although I do not think it has a natural predator. So although the Panglotee would be considered a predator species, I think they are overall peaceful creatures.

I had a lot of fun with this assignment and thinking about some of the animals I love!”

Vivian Kong

“This was one of the most liberating projects I have been able to do in a while. Animal forms are one of the most interesting and important areas of drawing studies that are often difficult to explore. Having the freedom to mix and match animal forms all the while learning about their function and physical detail truly gets to the core of drawing anatomy.

For this project, I decided to choose a predator living in the mountains where the terrain is cold, rocky, and frequently snowy. This is because I wanted to use some traits of my kitten from observation. I used my knowledge about my Siberian kitten and what traits Siberians have that help them survive harsh Russian winters in the wild.

By being prompted by this project, I truly took time to observe the way his fur interacts with light and how the patterns appear on millions of tiny hairs. The patterns on his fur and the way his ears are designed is usually merely glanced at, but today I took a longer look at his lynx patterning and furry ears. From there, I researched animals that live in rocky or cold environments and what traits they typically have. Bears and mountain goats seemed to survive particularly well in the environment chosen, so their traits were incorporated into this weird bear goat cat etc. hybrid.

Overall, it just felt fun and liberating to be able to sharpen drawing and observational skills while being able to exercise creativity.”

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