I start most of my drawings with a story in mind. For this drawing of an Alicanto the following passage was what inspired the creation of the work you see below.
The Alicanto hunt:
“The mines were dark and cold, but the miners came from cross country. Gold rush they called it. The first mine to be opened, that showed much promise, gold was being pulled out by the cart full. Only took a few nights. They thought maybe a few bad eggs were coming when they slept. Stealing peoples hard work. Mining all day, then later that night you were cleared out. Drives a man mad. It’s only when a few of the local boys decided to set a trap that they saw it. Bird as big as a house, golden and bright. But the shriek, that metallic shriek…none made it they say, rest their souls”.
What was the alicanto?
In short, an Alicanto is an ore eating bird that runs on two legs. The feathers and down that cover its body contain traces of the metals it consumes and as a result it is too heavy to fly. The bird itself is nocturnal. Whilst designing my own take on this mythical bird I thought to classify it within the griffin and hippogriff family but it is unclear on the scale of the animal. The gold and bronze colouration was initially to reflect its ore eating habits. After further research they also ate copper meaning they may have had shades of green which would have added variation to the colour palette.
Ideation: How did I change the idea?
You want to create your own Alicanto? Well here is how I made mine: a collection of different birds of prey, predominately the raptors. Key birds used to solidify the idea were the Harpy Eagle and Osprey. Replication of the sharp and angled face of these birds was needed to give a sense of menace and threat. If you want to apply that in your own work I advise looking at predatory animals. We are built to fear predators and hunt prey. As a result forward facing eyes, sharp beaks, talons, teeth and claws all give the impression of threat and are great to assimilate into our digital art ideas.
Think about the birds behaviour. When designing the creatures body I tried to create a powerful land based bird. This might be compared to an Ostridge or an Emu. I achieved this by using a larger jutting chest plate for the bird. This combined with its leg stance gave it a grounded and powerful look. The idea was an animal that would fight, not run.
Top Tip #1
You want to consider posture. Not only for human characters but also for animals. Posture tells a story. In this example the Alicanto has an elevated posture. This gives an impression of intimidation, power and superiority. Lowering this posture and the wings and turning the body slightly would indicate fear, weakness and made the creature seem weaker. Posture is important.
The Alicanto colour pallet was majority reds, yellows and oranges. Blues, purples and greens would emphasise the glossiness of metallic feathers. It is still important to remember that too much colour is just as detrimental as too little. Value painting(Painting in greys) is more important than colour to communication of ideas. In a future tutorial I will discuss colour and value to explain this point further.
Top Tip #2
Value is important. Practice painting in grey before you start to learn colour. This will help to develop your understanding of light, form and texture before moving onto incorporating colour. Remember the further away something is the less value it has.
This is one of my favorite pieces of work, let me know your own thoughts in the comments section below. If you want to see more like this let me know!