The Character-A-Fortnight Event : CAFÉ 002


Captain Spectra that’s a really nice sketch!

I decided to do a mythological creature, the Cockatrice

I did a quick sketch today:

Next I’ll make a nicer drawing in a better pose probably…and that’s a good idea default-rol, I think I’ll reference those loomis compisition diagrams too!


default-rol - OMG so much thinking goes into this! I feel stupid not doing that :eek:

I’m impressed by the planning and methodology everyone’s employing in those workshops - keep it up!

I don’t know which book it is though. I’ve got all of them but I’m too lazy to read them. One day I’ll find the strength, promise :slight_smile:


Yeah, I’ve got all of the Loomis books that I know about, and don’t remember seeing anything about informal composition in any of them. Thought maybe there was a book I didn’t have.


Good morning all,

@ Captain Spectra >>> Awesome start - I love the volumes on this grotesque. Care to elaborate on how you came by the idea? Even just a line or so, for those of us less skilled than yourself. :smiley: Cheers.

@ Fl3wk >>> Owlman has the potential to become a really good grotesque. How do you plan on refining it? Where are you going to next with the design?

@ eldee >>> Look in Loomis’ book “Creative illustration” on pages 36 - 39 under his first chapter - “Line.” Igor Sandman has posted up links to his books as downloads if anyone is intrested in the technique I used.

@ Roja >>> Love that cockatrice! Are you planning on detailing it and then painting it up? Good stuff so far.

@ Igor Sandman >>> Thanks for putting up this link. I’ve copied it to the relevant links section at the top of the thread.

@ Intervain >>> You don’t have to do it, It’s just the way I work. I need a reason for something to be, a narrative if you were. I can’t “just make something up” without knowing why. My personal feeling is that designs are usually stronger when they have purpose sat firmly behind them, prodding them into being… :smiley:

Thanks everyone - this workshop has got off to a really strong start. Keep it up, and we can all look forward to being thrilled and scared in equal measure. :thumbsup:

Cheers all

MIKE :slight_smile:


defualt-rol: Thanks. This one is just a thumbnail, next I am thinking of doing a sketch and gradually build up the details that will make this creaures character, in side/front/back view. I will then wash it with colour on a few copies and see what colour scheme works. The composition will be planned out for the three-quarters view, and then the colours will be shared out and the lighting will be decided. As for the refining process, I am very new to this stage, I am thinking of the building-up process where I build up semi-transparent colours.

I do not have that book on my computer. Is it possible you could explain that process briefly? Looks interesting, I hope it works for you.

Update with backview:


Here you go Fl3wk, a quick explination >>>

STEP 1 >>> Get a ratio for your composition and stick to it. This is really important as you can’t just work in different size frames and expect your results to fit together, time and time again.

STEP 2 >>> Draw your first line. Horizontal or vertical makes no difference. But just remember that your first line is actually your 5th. What that means is that your “first line” sits in relation to your frame of 4 lines that you have established. This makes it your 5th line really.

STEP 3 >>> Draw your dynamic diagonal line from 1 extreme corner of the compositional frame to the other. This could have been put in either direction and is your choice entirely. (STEP 3a.)

STEP 4 >>> Draw a horizontal or vertical line through the intersection of your two lines within the frame. you have now subdivided the frame in an informal way. (formal would mean you put your initial horizontal or vertical line in either the halfway point, at the quarter mark, or third of a way through your frame.)

STEP 5 >>> Sub divide your resulting boxes with another diagonal - this could have gone in numerous places, but it has to go from corner to corner within a box in the frame.

STEP 6 >>> Sub divide at an intersecting point again, with either a horizontal or vertical line. This makes more boxes again.

STEP 7 >>> Repeat the drawing of a diagonal within the new boxes.

STEP 8 >>> Keep going in this fashion, breaking up the space with diagonals to the corner of boxes, then laying in a horizontal or vertical at an intersecting point, until you have come to a satisfactory break up of space.

This is Loomis’ informal sub division technique as I understand it. I hope you find it a useful addition to your composition armoury. He loved it, and relied upon it to come up with ideas that were interesting and fresh. Download the books that Igor Sandman has posted up in that link if you want to know more about this great illustrators working methods! It’s all there in his books!! :thumbsup:

MIKE :slight_smile:


default-rol: Thanks very much! I have tools or enviroments but never for characters. I will check the books out and see about mastering the technique that you have shown.

Here is a minor update. I just added a quick skeletal structure to the first plate. This tells me if this creature is good enough and well balanced to be an organic being. I will be adding skeletons to the last two too:


Cleaned the front plate up slightly.


Glad my Loomis tutorial was of use to you. Loomis used this technique for both environments and character, (as well as a combination of the two - which is a major bonus of this illustration technique.)

I’m roughly paraphrasing what he said, but in “Creative Illustration” he basically says that if you’ve got an idea but not worked out how to communicate it then this method can suggest arrangements that you probably wouldn’t have thought of. And if you don’t have an idea then this method can possibly get you started. He also discusses lots of other important things to consider, beyond the 2D graphic break up of space, in that book. It’s one of the most important books in my collection, and I don’t say that lightly - my book collection is HUGE!! LOL.

MIKE :slight_smile:


Apr 15, 2007

Starting my concept with a poem:

Notions and Potions
Fill the mind’s Oceans
Creating the Darkness that surrounds us

I find that creating a little poem about the concept is a great way to stimulate the imagination into seeing a vision.



so much cool work by everyone again…

I am taking part in the animation challenge atm, so I won’t be joining in on this part, but I will enjoy following your progress, everyone.



@ Fl3wk >>> Good progress. Nice to see you thinking about the skeleton of your creature. Now you really can, “flesh it out.” :thumbsup:

@ SpiritDreamer >>> Great stuff! Working from a poem is not something I’ve ever done before I don’t think. I used a couple of haiku once in a project at University, but they just passed my lecturers by I’m afraid… I’m really looking forward to seeing this develop as you always manage to create something unique. Keep going. :thumbsup:

@ MU >>> Abandon us then, why don’t you?! LOL, (I’m not really bitter - honest.) good luck with your animation challenge and keep stopping by, crits are always useful to those working on the project.

Anyway, here is my first thought on the character I’ve got in mind >>>

He’s a bit fuzzy at the moment - something I’ll need to address in my development. I’ll try to establish overall proportions etc now, and then come back and tune him/it in I think.

Cheers all
MIKE :slight_smile:


here is my quick concept sketch numero uno, I like this quote and the brain is bursting with images

default-rol. nice breakdowns more on your image its a good start

added image two refining of this chimera


This is an intresting thread, Hopefully I can find some time to participate. Looking foward to all the great work.

Default - Rol - Intresting approach, you listen to twin when you draw as well? Howbout square and vsnares? :thumbsup:


Hi guys,

Nice to see all the work rolling in - keep it coming! :slight_smile:

Just a reminder to subscribe to / bookmark this thread since the front page plug will probably disappear shortly.


You are asking an interesting question about music, and how it subliminally shows up in your drawing work, eh? Good question!

I do listen to Squarepusher, I also listen to Susumu Yakota, Mileece, Murcof, The Prodigy… but I try to keep it in the “mood” of the work I’m trying to produce when listening while drawing. I’ve also got a lot of film soundtracks, anime OST’s, aswell as a couple of game OST’s, (ICO’s being my favourite for general listening.) I first started listening to music while drawing only last year, after watching the gnomon DVD series of Iain McCaig. He said that listening to soundtracks were VITAL to the creative process. I tried it on his advice, agreed with him, and have done it ever since. :scream:

After reading that John Singer Sargent did this too - and infact used to play when he was either stuck in a rut, was in a moment of thought, or at a major point in a piece of work - I reckon that the best can’t be wrong. :thumbsup:

Anyway, I’m off to put my i-pod back on…

Cheers - I look forward to seeing what work you produce, while “under the influence” too. :scream:
<<< UPDATE >>>

[/b]Some more ideas, just for fun. I’m still happier with the feel of the earlier one, but it’s good to explore.

MIKE :slight_smile:


SpiritDreamer-I like how that monster head is shaping out, looks cool!

Default-those last sketches you posted look really nice, I really like that style of drawing…and they’re all cool ideas I think :slight_smile:

I did a nicer drawing of the Cockatrice that I’m pretty happy with. Next step=coloring!


Well even listening to Fear Factory and Napalm Death didn’t push me to something satisfactorily grotesque ;). I’ll have to step it back to Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada to see it that helps it click.

I was thinking of a statue come to life – a simple hero facing off against a pair of statues enscrolled by a wizard type thing, pretty Frazetta inspired. I got interested in the above body type from a painting of his. It’s getting dangerously close to a Blizzard style Naga, and (even if it is a man/serpent/fish hybrid) it isn’t what I originally wanted when thinking grotesque… So most likely back to square one tomorrow unless something clicks in the night.

Nice start all round, Roja’s cockatrice, Mike’s sketches… this should be a really fun one to follow, exactly the kind of topic that can bring out the … ?best? in people ;). I’ll be pushing hard to get this one done, a bit of a better timeframe then the last one and a topic that is easier for me to get lost in :slight_smile:


Mike, what McCaig didn’t mentioned is that listening to music doesn’t make your drawing skills improve. Now that sucks! :sad:
I’m listening to all those music you mentioned, by the way.And Ico is also one listen to on a regular basis (as well as Shadow of the Colossus).
Sorry for beeing off topic. I’m working on a Salvatore-Name-of-the-Rose-type grotesque character, but I still haven’t got anything worth showing. For now my sketches are… grotesque.:shrug:
Take care.