Concept and paint an aquatic creature

18 May 202138:58

TLDRThis video tutorial guides viewers through the process of conceptualizing and painting an aquatic creature with a focus on achieving a wet skin texture and specular highlights. The artist begins by outlining the creature's structure and composition, then moves on to selecting complementary colors that allow the creature to stand out against the background. The tutorial emphasizes the importance of creating a strong silhouette and composition, and proceeds to demonstrate techniques for adding surface texture, lighting, and highlights to give the creature a realistic, wet appearance. The artist also discusses the influence of the environment on the creature's design, particularly its coloration, drawing parallels to how larger sea creatures use color to blend in. The process involves a combination of digital painting techniques, including the use of custom brushes for detailed highlights and texture, and concludes with tips on maintaining the creature's head as the focal point while ensuring the overall design is cohesive and visually appealing.


  • 🎨 Start with a concept and outline the creature's structure to understand its body composition and how it interacts with the composition.
  • 🌈 Choose colors that complement the background and allow the creature to stand out, focusing on a simple approach with lighting.
  • πŸ’§ Work on surface texture to achieve a wet look for the skin, using specular highlights to simulate the effect of water on the creature.
  • πŸ” Use a textured brush to add skin texture, looking for a pattern that breaks up the surface without losing the skin's integrity.
  • 🌟 Highlight important areas regardless of the lighting to emphasize the design's best features.
  • πŸ”„ Create a strong silhouette and composition by guiding the viewer's eye through a swirling motion that starts and ends at the creature's head.
  • 🌊 Add atmospheric depth by using lighter, less saturated colors and textured brushes to push certain areas back in space.
  • πŸ™ Incorporate elements from various creatures like cephalopods, mammals, and birds to design a unique aquatic creature.
  • πŸ’‘ Focus on the creature's anatomy to ensure that specular highlights and wet surfaces reflect light naturally, enhancing the realism.
  • 🌈 Introduce different colors to the design to make it more interesting and ensure it doesn't stray too far from the environment for a believable concept.
  • ✨ Use rim lighting and extreme highlights to define the creature's form and bring attention to focal points, making the design pop.

Q & A

  • What is the initial step in conceptualizing an aquatic creature?

    -The initial step involves outlining every part of the creature, working out the body structure, and considering how it interacts with the composition.

  • What is the purpose of choosing two colors for the creature that complement the background?

    -The purpose is to allow the creature to stand out against the background while maintaining a cohesive look, and to establish a color scheme that includes lighting effects.

  • How does the artist create a wet look for the creature's skin?

    -The artist uses a combination of surface texture, specular highlights, and a simple approach to achieve a wet look for the creature's skin.

  • What is the significance of the creature's silhouette in the design process?

    -The silhouette is significant as it provides a strong visual impact, guiding the viewer's eye through the design and back to the starting point, creating a dynamic visual flow.

  • How does the artist decide where to apply specular highlights?

    -The artist decides by focusing on areas of importance and those closest to the viewer, as well as areas where light would naturally collect due to the wetness and the form's angle.

  • What role does the environment play in the color scheme of the creature?

    -The environment greatly influences the color scheme, as the creature's colors often help it blend in or stand out based on its habitat, which is crucial for survival and predation.

  • Why does the artist use a texture brush for the creature's skin?

    -The texture brush helps to break up the skin's appearance, giving it an interesting and realistic pattern that resembles natural skin textures.

  • How does the artist add depth to the creature's design?

    -The artist adds depth by using atmospheric perspective, darkening areas to push them back, and focusing on the contrast between light and shadow to create a three-dimensional effect.

  • What is the technique used to emphasize the creature's form and anatomy?

    -The artist uses a combination of lighting, shadowing, and rim lighting to emphasize the creature's form and anatomy, making it more readable and visually appealing.

  • How does the artist ensure the creature's head remains the focal point?

    -The artist ensures the head remains the focal point by maintaining a balance between the complexity of the head and other parts of the creature, and by applying specular highlights and colors that draw attention.

  • What is the final step in the process of painting the aquatic creature?

    -The final step involves refining the specular highlights, adjusting values, and possibly introducing different colors to enhance the creature's tail and other parts while keeping the head as the central focus.



🎨 Conceptualization and Surface Texture Workshop

The speaker introduces the creative process of designing a creature with a focus on surface texture, specifically aiming for a 'wet look' with specular highlights. They discuss the importance of conceptualization, body structure, and composition. The session involves choosing complementary colors, playing with lighting, and creating a strong silhouette. The artist also emphasizes the iterative process of refining the creature's design through sketching and adjusting the texture and lighting.


πŸ–ŒοΈ Applying Skin Texture and Specular Highlights

The artist delves into adding highlights to the creature's design using a textured brush to create a more interesting skin pattern. They discuss the concept of wet skin and how light interacts with it, emphasizing areas of importance that should be highlighted. The process involves scaling up textures, adjusting opacity, and strategically applying light and dark areas to enhance the creature's design and make it stand out against the background.


🌟 Specular Highlights and Atmospheric Depth

The focus shifts to enhancing the creature's appearance with specular highlights and atmospheric depth. The artist uses a technique to pinpoint and emphasize areas of importance, such as the eye, to clarify the concept. They also discuss the role of environment in influencing a creature's look and colors, drawing parallels with sea life and large creatures that blend with their surroundings for protection.


πŸ–οΈ Cleanup and Background Enhancement

The artist talks about cleaning up the creature's edges for a cleaner look and ensuring the outline is distinct. They also discuss adding a simple background to provide context, suggesting an underwater setting with bubbles. The process includes refining the creature's anatomy and skin texture, with a focus on making the limbs and bones clearly readable while maintaining a natural feel under water.


🌈 Color and Specular Highlight Refinement

The artist continues to work on the creature's color and specular highlights, aiming to define the anatomy and how light would reflect off a wet surface. They discuss the use of lighting to enhance certain areas and push others back for depth. The process involves adding bright highlights and dark tones to create contrast and interest, ensuring the creature's most complex and interesting parts remain the focal point.


πŸ” Focus on Specular Highlights and Silhouette

The speaker emphasizes the importance of focusing on the final brightness of specular highlights and how they break up the silhouette. They discuss the skin texture of amphibians and how it can be used for creative effect. The artist also talks about using light to define the creature's form and using shadows to reinforce details. They mention the use of rim lighting to enhance certain areas and the importance of balancing complexity across the creature's body.


🌱 Final Touches and Contrast Adjustment

The artist discusses adding more shadow to push certain areas back in space and to increase contrast. They also talk about defining different areas and breaking them up for clarity. The session involves adjusting the creature's jaw and tentacle for better separation from the background. The artist plans to continue working on specular highlights and values in the tail area, ensuring it doesn't overshadow the head and body in complexity.



πŸ’‘Aquatic Creature

An aquatic creature refers to an organism that lives in water. In the context of the video, the artist is conceptualizing and painting a fictional aquatic creature, which is the central theme of the content. The creature is described with various attributes like a phase change, body structure, and surface texture, indicating its aquatic nature and the artist's focus on creating a believable and engaging underwater character.

πŸ’‘Surface Texture

Surface texture refers to the visual and tactile quality of the outer layer of an object. In the video, the artist discusses creating a 'wet look' for the creature's skin, which involves adding specular highlights to simulate the appearance of wetness. This technique is crucial for giving the creature a lifelike and realistic presence in its underwater environment.

πŸ’‘Specular Highlights

Specular highlights are the bright spots on a surface that show where light is reflecting the most directly. The artist emphasizes the importance of these highlights in creating a 'wet skin' effect, which is a key aspect of the creature's visual appeal. By strategically placing these highlights, the artist aims to draw attention to important areas of the creature's design and enhance the overall realism of the painting.


A silhouette is the outline or general shape of an object, especially when recognized as a whole rather than by its details. The artist mentions creating a strong silhouette for the creature, which is important for making the design stand out and be recognizable even from a distance or when only the shape is visible. This concept is integral to the creature's overall visual impact within the artwork.


Composition refers to the arrangement of the visual elements in an artwork. The artist discusses how the body structure of the creature works with the composition, which involves considering how the different parts of the creature interact with each other and the space around them to create a harmonious and engaging scene.

πŸ’‘Phase Change

Phase change, in the context of the video, likely refers to a transformation in the creature's appearance or structure, possibly to adapt to different conditions within its environment. This concept is used to add depth and complexity to the creature's design, suggesting that it has the ability to alter its form, which is a fascinating aspect of its fictional biology.

πŸ’‘Atmospheric Depth

Atmospheric depth is the sense of space and distance created in an artwork through the use of color, value, and texture. The artist uses this technique to suggest that parts of the creature are further away or receding into the background, which adds a three-dimensional quality to the two-dimensional painting and helps to create a more immersive underwater scene.

πŸ’‘Color Complement

A color complement is a color that is opposite to another on the color wheel, which can create a strong visual contrast when paired. The artist talks about choosing colors that complement the background while also allowing the creature to stand out. This concept is essential for making the creature visually prominent within the scene and for creating a dynamic color scheme in the artwork.

πŸ’‘Skin Pattern

Skin pattern refers to the design or arrangement of colors, textures, and shapes found on an organism's skin. The artist discusses creating an interesting skin pattern for the creature, which not only contributes to its unique appearance but also helps to suggest its character and possible evolutionary adaptations. The pattern is an important aspect of the creature's design, making it more intriguing and believable.

πŸ’‘Rim Lighting

Rim lighting is a lighting technique where light is directed along the edges of an object to separate it from the background and create a halo-like effect. In the video, the artist uses rim lighting to give the creature a sense of depth and to make it pop against the background, enhancing its three-dimensional appearance within the two-dimensional painting.


Anatomy refers to the structure of an organism, including the arrangement and relationship of its parts. The artist focuses on defining the anatomy of the creature to ensure that it appears natural and believable, even though it is a fictional creation. Understanding and accurately depicting the creature's anatomy is crucial for making it a convincing inhabitant of its underwater world.


The artist begins by outlining the creature's structure and moves on to conceptualize the body structure in relation to composition.

Focus is placed on creating a surface texture for the creature, aiming for a 'wet look' with specular highlights.

Two colors are chosen to complement the background while allowing the creature to stand out with lighting effects.

The creature's silhouette is emphasized for a strong visual impact.

The artist uses a textured brush to add interest to the skin, simulating a wet skin texture.

Specular highlights are strategically placed to draw attention to areas of importance on the creature's design.

The creature's design incorporates elements from cephalopods, mammals, and otters.

The artist discusses the importance of the creature's environment on its coloration and design.

A green color is introduced to break up the blue and add a swampy tone to the creature's color scheme.

The creature is given a predatory vibe through the use of darker colors and sharp features.

Bubbles and other environmental elements are added to reinforce the underwater setting.

Custom brushes are used to define anatomy and add saturated darks and bright highlights for the wet skin effect.

The artist emphasizes the importance of lighting in creating a natural and three-dimensional appearance.

Rim lighting is employed to give a sense of wetness and to define the creature's form.

Shadows and highlights are used to break up the skin texture and add depth to the creature's anatomy.

The tail of the creature receives attention to maintain it as a focal point, with careful consideration of complexity.

The artist uses lighting effects to separate and define areas of importance on the creature.

The final step involves refining the specular highlights and ensuring the creature's head remains the most complex and interesting part.