1. Design & Illustration
  2. Concept Art

Design and Draw a Model Sheet of a Werewolf Warrior

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

When you design a character on a 2D sheet, everything is clear for you. Sure, you're showing only one side, but you know exactly how the character would look in any other perspective. However, the 3D artist, whose job is to take your design and bring it to the third dimension, can't read your mind. They can only see what you give to them—one side of a multi-dimensional design in your head. To reduce the risk of misunderstanding, when designing a character try to describe as many aspects of it as possible.

One of the ways to do it is to create a model sheet. Its goal is to show more dimensions than only one drawing would. For example, the front view shows you the full height and width, but it tells you nothing about the depth. Also, the front and back may be totally different.

model sheet character why
This is the same object seen from the front (A) and the side (B)

This tutorial will be a simulated process of performing the task of a conceptual artist. I'll show you how to accomplish it step by step, explaining each step in detail—from the analysis of the commission through to the research of the topic, the design, and the full execution of the idea. You don't need any digital drawing software for this, although it's recommended.

1. Commission Analysis

Let's say you're a freelance concept artist. A company producing video games contacts you, you come to agreement, and they tell you what exactly they want you to do:

"It should be one of three playable characters in our game, a male werewolf warrior. In this universe the werewolf is another intelligent race rather than a cursed human, something like the orc or the minotaur. This character is strong, but is more a type of knight than a barbarian. His equipment is made all by himself, because he comes from a tribe, not from a developed civilization. 

The game is a kind of fantasy RPG, but its world isn't realistic and harsh. It's very colorful, sometimes exaggerated, and it's also child-friendly. We aim the game to be rated by ESRB as E10+, so it should be a mild version of high fantasy—with all the best things about fantasy, but without the brutal realism that's so popular nowadays (think more Fable than Skyrim or the Witcher). However, we don't want it to be totally fabulous and unbelievable, just a child-friendly kind of realistic."

They also say it's all that can be said about the project, so you've got a free hand about everything that hasn't been described here. What do we do now?

Step 1

We need to convert the information to something more exact—we need facts, not metaphors.

Let's see what we can say about the character:

  • male
  • werewolf (intelligent, human-like species)
  • strong, but not bulky
  • comes from a primitive tribe
  • uses/wears primitive equipment

That's pretty enough to create a character, but we've got more info. There's a certain style that needs to be followed:

  • colorful fantasy
  • exaggerated elements
  • child-friendly realism

Step 2

Now we need to expand this information. What does it all mean for us?

KeywordExpanded Meaning
  • broad shoulders
  • narrow hips
  • prominent jaws
werewolf (intelligent, human-like species)
  • a combination of wolf and human anatomy; anthro-wolf
  • human intelligence, movement, with added wolf features
strong, but not bulky
  • prominent muscles
  • harmoniously built body
  • able to carry a two-hand sword or an ax
comes from a primitive tribe
  • wild, ill-mannered
  • natural, animal moves, unconstrained by customs
uses/wears primitive equipment
  • no complicated equipment
  • everything made out of widely available materials (leather, rope, stone)
  • rough, imperfect clothes/armor and weapons
colorful fantasy
  • more colorful than realistic
  • magical version of the Middle Ages
  • higher technology substituted by magic and crafts
exaggerated elements
  • the features of some things are made more prominent to put focus on them
child-friendly realism
  • realism without brutality
  • no sexual themes
  • not scary
  • easily understandable metaphors

Step 3

It's very important to have the character's personality in mind before starting to design—we can say the inside that we don't draw influences strongly the drawn outside. In this case we haven't got the personality information from the company, which may mean one of two things:

  1. The company has planned the personality, but didn't think it was important to share it with us.
  2. The company hasn't planned the personality (yet).

In the first case there's a risk that we will not meet the requirements of the client, because they may have something in mind they didn't share with us, thinking our job is only about the look. To avoid it, always make sure to ask if they have any kind of personality in mind. In the other case it's very likely they'll use your suggestion, as long as it's based on their idea, or at least they'll base the personality on what shines through your design.

The personality shouldn't be totally fanciful—we need to base it on the information we already have. Our character is half-wolf, so we can expect he'll be more or less savage, untamed. He comes from a primitive tribe, not from a civilization that created decorum (good taste), so he can be very straightforward, but also alert and suspicious in contact with strangers. I can imagine him being loyal and honest, just as we imagine wolves, and friendly once one manages to earn his trust.

Can you feel you know the character now? That's just what we wanted!

2. Preparation Process

The most important feature of our character is his species. He's a kind of anthro-wolf, a human-like creature with wolf features. He should look like a wolf that evolved in a similar way to the human, without losing his most distinctive features. To get it right we need to focus on the anatomy of both human and wolf. You can "kinda know" what the human or the wolf looks like, but it's not enough to create a believable character—limited knowledge will limit your creativity.

Step 1: Skeleton Comparison

Wolves and humans are both mammals, so we'll find a lot of similarities in our skeletons:

  1. Shoulder—notice lack of clavicles at the wolf.
  2. Shoulder blade—placed on the back at the human, and on the sides of the wolf.
  3. Wrist
  4. Fingers—wolves walk on them.
  5. Ankle
  6. Heel
  7. Toes—again, wolves walk on them, not on the whole feet like us.
  8. Knees—notice they point the same way.
  9. Elbow
  10. Sacrum—this is where the tail starts, if the animal has any. Pay attention to the rotation of the hips.
  11. Neck—more elastic for the wolf. Notice the point where it attaches to the skull.
simplified human skeleton draw artist
Simplified human skeleton
simplified wolf skeleton draw artist
Simplified wolf skeleton

Step 2

Now we can design the skeleton of a creature that is a mix of all these features. It doesn't need to be anything final, just a way to organize the hints we can use, something to base our ideas on.

Let's imagine a wolf evolved just like the ape: its upright position gave more freedom for the evolution of hands, but for this to happen the feet must have changed, and the pelvis has been rotated. 

The man-wolf can still walk on all fours, and it's always ready to do so in case there's a need to move fast. The tail may be longer, giving more stability, and the clavicles were developed to support the arm (no longer legs) movement. 

We can also imagine the upright position will lead to the development of more complicated forms of communication, since it makes it harder to use the whole body for this—our wolf-man may have a more expressive face than normal wolves.

simplified werewolf skeleton draw artist anthro wolf
Simplified anthro-wolf skeleton

Step 3: Musculature Comparison

We need to do the same with the muscles. The position makes a big difference here—wolves don't have "arms" in the literal sense, they only have legs. When mixing both anatomies we need to pay attention to the function of the muscles.

simplified human muscle draw artist
Simplified human muscles
simplified wolf muscle draw artist
Simplified wolf muscles
simplified werewolf muscle draw artist anthro wolf
Simplified anthro-wolf muscles

Step 4: Detail Study

We know a lot about the general anatomy of the human and the wolf, but it's not enough. There are details of the wolf body that we need to learn to draw. Expecting them to turn out by themselves when we prepare the design may lead to a big disappointment and waste of time. You can create your own study or use my tutorial about drawing wolves for this purpose.

wolf study how to draw wolves
Your first wolf will be far from perfect, and so will be the fifth and the fifteenth. Come back to serious drawing only when it starts to come naturally

Hint: even when you're good at drawing both humans and wolves, always do a warm-up before going on to serious things. It makes the process faster!

3. Design

This is the part where we'll use all the knowledge we've gathered to bring the idea to life.

Step 1

Turn on some dynamic music and go into wild drawing mode. Don't think: just sketch your ideas quickly, on a small scale. Once one silhouette is done, go to another. Don't judge, be fast.

how to draw werewolves study

Step 2

Pick your favorite! I decided the second one was looking the best, but it happens rarely. Usually the first sketches are still a part of the warm-up, and only after them does your hand start working more fluently.

how to draw werewolves study 2

Step 3

Now take your character to the playground! Test it and see its viability in various poses. It will help you find and refine the weak spots of the design.

If you think it's too much drawing and you'd rather just go on with the very first sketch you've drawn, you may need some more practice. Sketches like these should come very easily to you—if they don't, you may not be ready yet for this kind of job. It's about picking the best idea out of dozens potentially good ones, not about using the only idea you are able to draw.

how to draw werewolves study 3

Step 5

Refine the idea on a slightly larger scale. Details aren't important yet; focus on the silhouette.

how to draw werewolves choose design

Step 6

A naked wolf-man would look like a wild creature instead of a primitive one. Let's sketch a few possibilities for the outfit:

character design outfit drawing

Step 7

I've chosen the middle one. It's quite simple, with armor that's not too heavy. I imagine our character to be as fast and agile as a wolf, and a wolf would despise any armor that restricted his movements. Besides, the wolf-man is already well protected by his fur and doesn't need to wear anything else to stay warm. What did I include in his armor?

  1. A belt made of leather, without a metal buckle that would be hard to get in a primitive community. I searched for "primitive belt" to find out how it could be done instead. 
  2. A "skirt" made of leather strips studded with stones, and fluffy animal tails for greater protection. It's all very movable, so it doesn't constrain the creature.
  3. This belt can be used to tie the scabbard to.
  4. Typical forearm guards, nothing fancy.
  5. This part of the foot isn't flexible, so we can safely cover it too.
  6. A pendant with animal fangs: cliché, but still cool.
character design outfit drawing 2

Step 8

What kind of weapon may our character prefer? It must be something quite simple to make, fitting his fast combat style. I've chosen a spear with a stone blade and sharp fangs at the end. It can be used for piercing (blade), hitting (fangs), and throwing.

character design drawing weapon

Step 9

So far we've only paid attention to the whole body, so now let's take a look at the face. Make sure you are able to repeat the shapes and proportions, that they're not random. Check if you can maintain the proportions and the same style in other views, too.

character design head face drawing

Step 10

Make sure the face is flexible enough to change the emotions. The wolf's face isn't as expressive as the dog's, but we can change it for our purpose. It's a kind of evolved wolf, after all!

character design head face drawing 2

Step 11

Put all your ideas in a clean sketch, trying to present them as clearly as possible. It doesn't need to be super refined, but make sure there's no doubt about what is what. The client should now tell you if they like the design, and what they'd like to change before going to the next phase. Listen carefully and ask questions if you're not sure about something—it'll save you a lot of time!

character design drawing werewolf sketch

4. Execution 

Let's assume the client was ecstatic about our design and we've got the green light. We can start working on the full presentation—front, side and back.

Step 1

Using the previous picture as a reference, sketch the front view.

character design model sheet views reference

Step 2

Break the front view into simple forms that will be easy to repeat.

character design model sheet views reference 2

Step 3

Draw horizontal lines crossing the body to divide it into parts.

character design model sheet views reference 3

Step 4

Use the lines to draw side and back views without losing the proportions.

character design model sheet views reference 4

Step 5

To draw arms only once, and show both its sides at the same time, we need to modify the front view:

character design model sheet views reference 5

Step 6

Let's start adding details to all the views, part by part to keep consistency. Keep in mind we've already created the design, and now we only reveal it.

Draw the head:

character design model sheet views reference 6
character design model sheet views reference 7
character design model sheet views reference 8

Step 7

The mane:

character design model sheet views reference 9
character design model sheet views reference 10
character design model sheet views reference 11

Step 8

The torso and arms:

character design model sheet views reference 12
character design model sheet views reference 13
character design model sheet views reference 14

Step 9

The legs:

character design model sheet views reference 15
character design model sheet views reference 16
character design model sheet views reference 17

Step 10

The outfit:

character design model sheet views reference 18
character design model sheet views reference 19
character design model sheet views reference 20

Step 11

The weapon:

character design model sheet views reference 21
character design model sheet views reference 22
character design model sheet views reference 23

Step 12

Clean the lines of the sketch.

character design model sheet views reference lineart

Step 13

You can add strong outlines to create a border between the inside and the outside.

character design model sheet views reference lineart 2

Step 14

You can also stress the lines within the outline, to define the most important parts.

character design model sheet views reference lineart 3

Step 15

Do the same with all the views:

character design model sheet views reference lineart 4
character design model sheet views reference lineart 5

Step 16

Take a god look at your model sheet and make sure everything is clear. If it's not, you can be sure they'll either guess it, ruining your idea, or bother you from time to time to dispel a doubt. To minimize the risk, add all the details you can think of.

character design model sheet views reference equipment
character design model sheet views reference equipment 2
character design model sheet views reference equipment 3

We're Ready to Fight!

The model sheet is ready to be handed to the 3D artist. You can use exactly the same workflow for every character you wish. Keep in mind that quadrupeds may benefit from showing the top view, too, since this is their actual back.

But this is not the end! What about the colors? They're very important for the character—we shouldn't leave this choice to someone else! In the next part of this tutorial I'll show you how to paint the character quickly, using a simple color palette. Stay tuned!

character design model sheet views reference final
Download the attachment to see a bigger version of the sheet
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