Friday, May 31, 2013

Natural History - Sarcastic Fringehead

I really enjoyed this assignment. It was fun to learn about this fantastic fish, and I'll definitely be doing more studies like this is the future!


Natural History-Pink Fairy Armadillo

Hi Everyone! Here's my finals for the Pink Fairy Armadillo.

 And a larger version of the "Push Yourself" Image:


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Stephen Green - Scutigera Coleoptrata

I've toned down the background in order to make it less of a focus.  I had a lot of trouble finding female/male versions of this type of centipede.  I know that the males often deposit sperm on eggs however it was also tough to find exact pictures of house centipede eggs.  I'm not positive they mate often and it seems as if it really happens outside during the spring/fall.  It also seemed like most the eggs of the differing types of centipedes looked very similar.  I might draw some more of these guys tomorrow but I figured I would post these as the deadline has technically arrived. Thanks for the thoughts and recommendations everyone.

Sarcastic Fringehead - Push Yourself!

The Spectacled Eider

Quick sketches of the Spectacled Eider, Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pink Fairy Armadillo Part 2

Second layout (including my push yourself painting) WIP... I think its mostly finished. I may replace the explanation of their movement with some sketches instead

Stephen Green - Scutigera Coleoptrata

Scutigera coleoptrata - House Centipede

Hello everyone.  I've decided to choose a creature that terrifies me.  Somehow I've managed to stare at pictures of it on Google.  Painting is somehow freaks me out less than researching it.

• Where does it live?
In yo house.  Actually, most live outside, normally under rocks, piles of wood, or compost piles.

• How does that affect how it has evolved and looks?
It has evolved to be a fast moving predator of similar sized insects.

• How does it feed?
They feast on souls.  Actually, they administer venom through modified legs.  These are not part of their mandibles, so strictly speaking they sting rather than bite. They are mostly nocturnal hunters.
Despite their developed eyes they seem to rely mostly on their antennae when hunting.
When the centipede is in danger of becoming prey itself, it can detach any legs that have become trapped.

• How does it procreate?

They lay their eggs in the spring.  To begin mating, the male and female circle around each other. They initiate contact with their antennae.
The male deposits his sperm on the ground and the female then uses it to fertilize her eggs.

• What are the differences between the male and female?
Females can be much larger than males.  Females lay eggs and fertilize them with the sperm that males deposit on the ground.

• What might be its evolutionary ancestors- what other creatures is it related to now?
Centipedes are Arthropods.  Small athropods have been found in fossible beds dating 541-539 million years ago.
It's said that there were three seperate groups of "arthropods" which evolved seperately from common worm-like ancestors.

More recent related creatures would be scorpions or crabs

•  How do they usually die?
Sometimes I manage to vacuum them up.  Other times they get into a tangle with a predator such as a bee or some other dangerous animal and loose a fight.  They try and sting them and let their poison do the work.  That doesn't always work out though.

• What are their predators and how have they evolved to escape them?
Creatures that are larger are considered predators.  The centipede can detach any of its legs in order to get away from a predator.

My first layout of probably two.  This centipede has an exoskeleton so not sure I can draw its skeleton.  I'll try and find if it has some sort of internal structure.

Probably touch this up a bit later tonight.  My soul's a bit weak from staring at centipedes all afternoon.

Animals you Didn't Know Existed

The Maned Wolf
There are some beauties in here- and even a couple I hadn't seen!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sarcastic Fringehead - Page 2

Here's a continuation of my studies on the Sarcastic Fringehead.

I wasn't able to find a skeletal structure, but I did find some images of eggs in various stages of development. I also included some quick gesture drawings showing it's movement when swimming and fighting, as well as gender differences and a few different color patterns I've found.

Anything else I should include?

I'm also going to try to get done a full illustration of this guy hanging out in his shell home.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sarcastic Fringehead Page 1

Here's the start of some drawings of that crazy fish!

I'm working on some more, including gesture drawings and different colorations, which will be up soon! Still searching for this guys skeletal structure and a baby picture..


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pink Fairy Armadillo... More WIP Shots

More WIP's for the Pink Fairy Armadillo. I reworked the skeleton and double-checked some of the numbers of bones; going to finish up rendering it soon. Below that is the second layout, including my "push yourself" piece of the Armadillo in its habitat. At the bottom are the PFA's tracks and above will be two images; one of the armadillo digging and another of it using its armored bottom to cork the hole it digs for itself.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Emily Ormsby - Sarcastic Fringehead

The sarcastic fringehead is quite a unique fish. I especially enjoy its fins and markings, as well as its big dopey mouth. Aww aren't you cute little-


        -usually around 3-8 inches, but can reach up to a foot in length

        -Pacific Ocean, off the west coast of North America
        -takes shelter in empty shells, cracks, and occasionally bottles and cans
          thrown into the ocean
        -shelters protect from larger predators
        -the size of the fringehead's shelter typically coincides with the size of
          the fish living in it
        -extremely territorial and protective of their homes
        - hides its body in its shelter and uses its large mouth to threaten and
          attack intruders

        -the fringehead's diet is unknown
        -many closely related fish eat crustaceans like shrimp and small crabs
        -due to its sharp teeth, it is most likely capable of grasping smaller fish to
         eat as well

        -females lay 3,000 eggs in a crack or borrow
        -nest is guarded by the male
        -eggs attach to the nest and each other to stay in place
        -newly hatched fish are only about 1/10" long

        - 6 years

        -displays its mouth to look larger (seen above) and intimidates by snapping
         its large jaws
        -known for their aggressiveness and poor sight
        - as a result fringeheads will attack anything that comes close to its home
        -will fight with other fringeheads over territory by 'wrestling' with open
          mouths pushed together (see video below)
        -fits into small openings by backing into them, leaving the head ready to
         lash out and attack

Other facts:
        -females have smaller eyes than the males
        -related to goby's and many other saltwater fish
        -gets the 'sarcastic' part of its name from its temperament
        -'fringehead' refers to the appendages and fleshy tissue around the mouth


Monday, May 20, 2013

Pink Fairy Armadillo- Page 1 of Studies

Here's page 1 of my Pink Fairy Armadillo studies. Oddly enough It was easier to find skeletal reference than actual live images. I still have to work some texture on the fur, but any thoughts guys?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Jacob Hurd-Burnell Spectacled Eider

Spectacled Eider

Very little is known about the Spectacled Eider because it wasn't discovered until the 1990's Because they live in the most remote and extreme sub-arctic environment on earth.


-The Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri) is a large sea duck, which breeds on the coasts of Alaska and northeastern Siberia.

-The lined nest is built on tundra close to the sea, and 5-9 eggs are laid. This species dives for crustaceans and molluscs.

-It winters in often enormous flocks at sea in the Arctic along the edge of the pack ice.

The Spectacled Eider is slightly smaller than the Common Eider at 52-57cm.

-The male is unmistakable with its black body, white back, and yellow-green head with the large circular white eye patches which give the species its name.

-The drake's call is a weak crooning, and the female's a harsh croak.

-The female is a rich brown bird, but can still be readily distinguished from all ducks except other eider species on size and structure.

-Immature birds and eclipse adult drakes are similar to the female.

-Migrating birds

-Dive to the sea floor for food

-The Spectacled Eider evolved differently but is very similar to the common Eider

Eating Habits:
Spectacled eiders often feed like dabbling ducks, immersing their heads in the water and tipping up to forage. They feed primarily on mollusks and crustaceans in shallow waters and may forage on pelagic or free-floating amphipods that are concentrated along the sea-water/pack-ice interface. On coastal breeding grounds, they feed on freshwater mollusks, small crustaceans, insect larvae, grasses, berries and seeds. They utilize inland ponds and coastal shallows during brood rearing to feed on crane flies and caddis fly larvae.

-Male and Female look different and make different calls, Presumably for mating reasons. Another possible reason could be because the female camouflages with the arctic tundra grasses to stay with the eggs and stay hidden from predators such as the arctic fox.

Because there was so little information some of what I have I had to make up from observation.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Brittany Smith- Pink Fairy Armadillo

For my natural history creature, I chose the Pink Fairy Armadillo. I really liked their silhouette and they're very distinct from the common armadillo that most people are familiar with. It is the smallest member of the armadillo family, weighing in at 1 pound and averaging 4'' long. Their dorsal shell is almost completely separate from the body, unique to the Pink Fairy Armadillo.

Photo from

Where does it live?
--Pink Fairy Armadillos are found in central Argentina, in deserts and arid grasslands. 
--These areas are filled with thorn bushes and cacti.
--During the day, the PFA burrows in sand that is typically uncomfortably warm to the human hand. 
--Pink Fairy Armadillos are Noctournal, burrowing underground during the day
--Often seen out after rainfall, to avoid drowning in the sand burrows, and because insects are more plentiful after the rains.

How does that affect how it has evolved and looks?
--Long toes for digging into the sand to stay cool during the day. (Digs with front legs, kicks with back.) 
--Their tail cannot be raised but acts as a ballast when digging. 
--Torpedo shaped, and believed to be "sand swimmers," moving the sand around them as they travel through it. The bullet or torpedo shape helps the creature "swim"
--Uses flat shelled bottom as a cork to plug holes
--Bone plate at the pelvis and head connects protective shell to body. 

How does it feed?
--Scavenges ants, larvae, snails, worms, roots.

How does it procreate?
--Will have more than one mate
--Females give birth to one infant, shell does not harden until adulthood

• What are the differences between the male and female?
--No distinct outward gender difference
--Male armadillos have a very long, mobile phallus, to get around the shell and tail of the female. 
--Females have two mammae.

• What might be its evolutionary ancestors- what other creatures is it related to now?
--Related to large, well known hairy and dwarf armadillos
--Prehistoric ancestor is a Glyptadon, a giant, armored creature.  The Glyptodon's shell was built of tessellating hexagons of individual nodules of bone lined up against each other and fused
--Modern armadillos "shells" are the same concept, just arranged in bands

• Does it have any symbiotic relationships with other animals or plants. (such as how bees pollinate flowers or oxpeckers eat bugs off elephants)
-- No symbiotic relationships, but burrows tend to be found under or near an anthill or decaying corpse to provide "fast food" for these creatures.

•  How do they usually die?
--Natural aerial predators such as eagles and hawks 
--Habitat Destruction by Humans
--Predation by Domestic dogs

• What are their predators and how have they evolved to escape them?
--Predators are primarily aerial, the crowned eagle being one of them. Their eyesight allows them to spot the 4'' Armadillos out in the open. 
--Domestic dogs have also contributed to the predation of the species 
--The pink fairy armadillo is fast while under the sand and its coloration camouflages it within its surroundings. It surfaces randomly every 4-5 meters, then digs again. 

• Share anything else you discover that may be of interest
--Difficult to find, classified as endangered. 
--It has been reported that in over 200 hours of field time one group of researches could not find a single PFA.
--None have survived more than 4 years in captivity.
--Tracks have a small center tail line with footprints on either side
--Fossils of Armadillo predecessors were some of the first brought back by Darwin; he also noted that armadillos in general did not make a particularly filling breakfast.


I'll be starting sketches tonight!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Introduction and First Assignment

Welcome to your Creature Design workshop!
Murder Sticks!
Image from The Oatmeal

Your goal: To sharpen your ability to create believable imaginary creatures as used in concept art with research, reference and storytelling exercises.

I will give one exercise in May and then two assignments a month through July. Each assignment will include several components and the option of doing a “push yourself” portion. (sort of like extra credit) I encourage you to post WIPs for each other to critique throughout. I will chime in occasionally during the process and a little more when you post finals but other than that it will mostly be up to you to support and push each-other.  If you wish to continue through August, you will have the option of creating assignments for each other and I will still participate.

This workshop is limited supervision and will only be as successful as you make it. I encourage you to practice the initiative and self-discipline necessary to your success after college.

If you would like to state any personal goals you have for this workshop- I encourage you to do so. It will help me tailor assignments to your needs.

Assignment 1: Natural History
 Due May 31st

Good creature design is informed by your knowledge of the real world and the questions you can answer from observing it. Let’s start off by expanding that knowledge a bit.

Find an unusual creature (can include insects) that you don’t know much about and do some heavy research on it. Write a report that answers some basic questions:

Where does it live?
How does that affect how it has evolved and looks?
How does it feed?
How does it procreate?
What are the differences between the male and female?
What might be its evolutionary ancestors- what other creatures is it related to now?
Does it have any symbiotic relationships with other animals or plants. (such as how bees pollinate flowers or oxpeckers eat bugs off elephants)
How do they usually die?
What are their predators and how have they evolved to escape them?
Share anything else you discover that may be of interest

Draw your creature from as many angles as you possibly can. Draw the male, female and baby versions If you can find a skeletal structure to draw- do that as well. Try to find videos and do gesture drawings of it without pausing if you can.  Add at least two color versions exploring color, texture, patterns and any changes in these that may occur depending on their environment/age/gender etc. Arrange these studies in  800 x 1000px documents (landscape orientation) 72 dpi. (use however many layouts seem necessary)

*Push Yourself: Illustrate the creature in its natural environment.

Here's some inspiration:

Why the Mantis Shrimp is my new favorite animal

Underwater Astonishments with David Gallo Ted Talk

Nick Baker discusses the Mimic Octopus more in depth:

Image from The Oatmeal

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Welcome to Creature Feature Concept Art!

This blog was born out of an interest in concept art and creature design by a handful of students at New Hampshire Institute of Art. We agreed we all needed some time this summer to work on our skills, and something to augment the classes offered to us in our discipline.

The artists on this blog are:

Emily Ormsby- (Emily did our logo as well!)
Steve Green- (NHIA alum)
Jacob Hurd-Burnell-
Brittany Smith-

Under the guidance of instructor Kristina Carroll, we will be working all summer to broaden our understanding of creature design and concept art.

Check back soon for our first assignments!