Fantasy and realism are conflicting thoughts. Yet, for fantasy characters to be believable, it is important to bring in a sense of ‘otherworldliness’ while still keeping them anatomically and functionally viable, professes concept artist Shreya Shetty. She lays down few very important tenets to create fantasy-realism, as she likes to call it.
Origin decides the destination.
The characters are shaped by the environment he/she resides in. For example, if you were drawing a character from a tribe that lived in the desert, you wouldn’t cover him/her in heavy fur – it just wouldn’t be practical. Or, if you had to design a character that lived up in the Arctic, you wouldn’t design elements that echoed tropical climates like palm trees and such. It is very important to design the characters in relation to the environment it lives in to maintain believability. Try not to have too many elements in the background or keep it super detailed because then, the character would be difficult to read. Keeping the background simple helps in reducing clutter in the image and maintains the focus on the character.
All the characters are born out of a real instance.
Usually, the overall design and silhouette of the creature will first catch your eye. Take inspiration from associated elements, for example, surface qualities like colouring, pattern and texture details, physiological traits, mechanics and behavioural traits to come up with your imagination. With humans, faces with nonconventional features make for more interesting characters. Replicating, in terms of fan art or redesigning, involves a bit constraint. But you can always add your own unique perspective, while maintaining the original identity of the character. On the other hand, original artwork gives you free reign to design as you wish.
Exaggeration makes the character memorable.
If you exaggerate just the right amount, it could be the difference between a dull, forgettable character and one that stands out and grabs the viewer’s attention. You can play with physical proportions and expressions to add a theatrical flair to your design. Props and costume add to the storytelling and history of the character. Look through resource materials for costumes and hairdos and find inspirations that are more suited for your character. It’s important for the added elements to match the universe of your character to bring in that sense of authenticity.
Expression defines the persona.
Expression and posture are all parts of the visual storytelling process and act as cues. They tell us more about the character if he/she is aggressive or submissive, intelligent or dumb and so on. In respect to the overall plot, expressions define the role played by the character in it. The right expression and poise can create a memorable moment that will stick with the audience even when the story gets over.
Practice, patience and perseverance.
Many people have this notion that few artists are naturally gifted with the ability to draw and paint while others are not. That’s not true. With hard work and persistence anyone can be a good artist. The important thing is to just practice, practice and practice more. Look at the artists you admire, see what attracts you to their work. Do master-copies, observational sketches and supplement your studies with working from imagination. Finally, give yourself time to grow and develop to be the one you always want to be.
Published in Issue 16
We always wish we had someone to show us the right way of doing things when we were starting our professional journey. And that’s why we have based this issue on graduates. The cover feature is an ensemble of advice from top names of the industry. We have also showcased few talented fresh graduates from across the country, keeping with the theme. You’ll find Tom J Manning and Pallavi Sen share their international exposure as well as insights behind their unique approach. Also featuring Shreya Shetty, a prominent concept artist, who shares the secret behind the believable characters she creates. She believes, with practice and patience, anyone can be a good artist.
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