Unlimited PS Actions, graphics, videos & courses! Unlimited asset downloads! From $16.50/m
Lessons:15Length:1.5 hours

Next lesson playing in 5 seconds


Free Preview: Illustrating a Character for Fantasy or Sci-Fi


  • Overview
  • Transcript

Illustrating a character for fantasy or sci-fi is fun, but challenging. If your illustration doesn't tell a story, then it won't have the maximum impact it deserves. So in this course, digital artist Andy Griffiths will provide you with a set of tools to help you to avoid clichés and build a portfolio of original work that will impress clients and stand out from the crowd with potential employers. Using Manga Studio, you will learn the importance of including storytelling elements in your artwork, the power of shape and silhouette, how to generate multiple concepts, and how to use camera angles and lighting to create a sense of drama to your illustrations.

1. Introduction

1.1 Introduction

Hello, and welcome to Illustrating a Character for Fantasy or Sci Fi. My name's Andy Griffiths, and my background is in traditional hand drawn animation, where I worked for ten years on feature film animation for companies such as Amblimation and Warner Bros. For the past 15 years, I've worked as a freelance cartoonist illustrator and graphic designer. Here's the finished piece that I'm gonna be creating for this course. It was created in Manga Studio 5 and it's an illustration of a character from the novel Night's Master by Tanith Lee. Now, as we all know, the sci-fi and fantasy genres are full of familiar themes from games, movies, and the Internet, but with a bit of work and by digging a bit deeper, it is possible to create some truly original artwork. In this course, I'll provide you with a set of tools that will help you avoid the cliched, and build a portfolio of unique work to impress clients and potential employers alike. In the next lesson, I'll be talking about hardware and software and taking a look at my personal studio setup.

2. Pre-Production

2.1 Avoiding the Cliché

Hello and welcome to illustrating a character for fantasy or sci-fi. My name is Andy Griffiths, and in the lesson, I am going to look at some common fantasy art cliches, and how and why we should do our best to avoid them. Oversized swords, oversized armor, oversized breasts, and undersized chain mail bikinis, generic dragons, and spiky manga hair. If you've spent any time at all looking through the galleries of Deviant Art, you'll have seen all of these fantasy art cliches and more. Often altogether in the same image and yes, I'm guilty of using them too. The fantasy and science fiction art genres are probably more popular now than they ever have been. The phenomenal rise of digital art, together with the simultaneous rise of the Internet over the last two decades, now makes it possible for anyone with a computer and a Paint application to make fantasy art and distribute it to the masses. In one way, that's a great thing, but it also means that the field is now a really crowded one. One of the best ways we can stand out from the crowd is to create good quality and, above all, original work. Before there was fantasy arts, there were fantasy stories. Artists came along and visually interpreted those stories, turning these written works into drawings and paintings. And then later came movies, comics, animation and games. Then the next generation of artist came along and created works base on the visual interpretations of the original artist. Until we reach the point where everything begins to get endlessly recycled, and so the cliche was born. Looking back, we can trace a clear line from the Pre-Raphaelite of the 19th century who were inspired by themes of mythology, spirituality, and the idealization of the female form. Right through to the work of fantasy artist like Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo. I would like to suggest that in our search for original ideas, we don't have to look too far. All we need to do is get back to the original source of inspiration, the written word. In the next lesson, I'm gonna talk about the character I'll be creating and the book that inspired me.