Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Good Hair Day?

After much deliberation, and a lengthy hiatus due to college finals, I finally set out to rescue several chilly nereids. If it isn't apparent at this point, I'm trying to maintain a certain degree of plausibility with these creatures, which means that sometimes my aesthetic preferences for the project have to take a back seat to believability. Try as I have, I just couldn't justify a completely hairless Nereus, so many of the species in the colder biomes will now sport fur.

Since several of these species have already been drawn some reworking was called for. I balked at some of these at first, mostly because I was so pleased with the originals, but my muse took over and some truly spectacular fur patterns started to form in my mind. I'll get to them all one day, but in the meantime enjoy the six redrawn species:

Banded Conker. This is the one I least wanted to redraw. Thanks to feedback from the Speculative Evolution community it was made clear to me that even with their hyperactive metabolism the conkers would probably still freeze. The community also suggested a bison-like mantle pattern for the fur, but I felt that a 'mohawk' style of mane would be more artistically interesting for the species. If it still doesn't seem like there is enough fur on the conkers, then consider the individual strands of fur to be hollow, much like the polar bear, which gives even more insulation for the amount of fur grown.

Barmanou. I had some difficulty coming up with a pattern for these predators, and ended up turning to the barmanou's inspirational earth animals-- the gorilla and mountain lion-- for ideas. I also took the opportunity to correct what I always felt was a major flaw in the barmanou's design: its hind limb, stout and muscular as it is, was propped on top of a foot that rested on its knuckles. I conceived of this design to reflect genetic heritage with other europsids, but the more I thought about it the more I was convinced those digits would collapse under the barmanou's weight. So in the redraw I replaced the rear foot with a more traditional appendage.

Blueback Chaparro. This was another redraw I struggled with, and consequently left it for last. Even though this is a flying species I wanted to avoid feathers; draconiforms are already bird-like enough. So I turned to bats for inspiration of the fur design. I hope that it still retains the sleek aerodynamic design of the original as well as able to survive the cold continental highlands of Altai.

Colossus Carm. The obvious inspiration for this species' coat of fur is the wooly mammoth. There was concern expressed regarding exactly how the fur would lay along the body, but I think it all turned out surprisingly well. I left the head and feet relatively glabrous, but counter-current blood circulation can take care of extremities, and I felt that the area surrounding the nostrils would be somewhat hairless, especially in females; hair around these orifices would likely just get clogged and filthy.

Kitsune. Named after the mythical Japanese fox, this nereid always looked a little strange to me without fur. That's been remedied now, but there are still nothing that can be described as tails, something the namesake is known for. Oh well.

Pom. Ironically, this was the first nereid I redrew. I always knew it could benefit from a coat of mousy fur, but was maintaining a hairless aesthetics for nereids at the time. I used the pom as a sort of test subject (or guinea pig, if you're into puns) for a method of drawing fur in a Photoshop tutorial I found, and was so pleased with the results that I gave the redrawing project the full go-ahead.

In general I'm pleased with how the new images turned out, but you can draw your own conclusions. Have I solved the problem of giving subarctic species sufficient insulation? Are the redrawn nereids still artistically interesting? Or have my efforts for this little subproject been in vain?