Monster Design from Scratch

Monster design is one of my favorite things to do. It is partly why I am so excited for this upcoming Kickstarter! It is all about creative freedom and running with the design.

For this, I knew I wanted some sort of forest spirit. I particularly liked the Leshen from the Witcher 3. (Videogames have been a huge influence on my art style. My Cockatrice for example was heavily inspired from Monster Hunter World)

So now that I know I want some sort of leshy like forest spirit, I go to google for reference images.


Concept Stage

I made a collage of google images and inserted it into ZBrush. I made a really simple video about how to do insert references images on my YouTube channel. You can check it out here.

I liked the idea of this monster being somewhat on the gentle side, but definitely dangerous.


General Shape

So now I start blocking out the overshape shape. I define the mask-like face early on though because it is a huge part of this model’s personality. This helps me have a more clear design scope.

I want this creature to be lanky like a tree since he belongs in the forest. As a result, his limbs are stretch and his horns resemble tree roots.



I start to refine the general shape. The arms in particular I wanted to stand out so I give them a lot of detail.



I made the lines of the thighs horizontal to contrast the rest of the model.

This breaks up the model a bit which I ended up liking.

When I model I like to have three different levels of detail to direct the eye. High detail, medium, and almost no detail.

The face is a good example of being almost detail-less and helps convey that lonely haunting effect. It also grabs your attention since it is so blank compared to the rest of the model.


Fur Blob

I decided that the shoulders look a bit bare.

To fix this I add some fur around his shoulders and down his spine.

I add fur simply by appending a sphere, and then using the move brush to drag it around.


Rough Concept

It is important to keep your internal critic as silent as possible when designing from scratch. Otherwise every “that looks dumb” thought will ebb away at your confidence.

This usually leads to your design looking a bit diluted because you weren’t comfortable trying anything new.

So try to keep it fun!! Your first draft doesn’t need to look good. Neither does your 5th or 7th draft. Keep toying with the design until you like it, and don’t forget you can take as long as you want :)


Featured Equipment

So I mentioned earlier how inspired I have been from video games. On that note, I HIGHLY recommend getting some sort of art book of your favorite game or movie.

One of my favorites is from Horizon Zero Dawn. Games like this are made of 3D assets, and frequently made in ZBrush. They usually feature high resolution images of their models. This specific book really helped me with weapon design.

I like to go through with a small notebook and jot down everything that catches my attention. Way more helpful than you might think~

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