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As part of the series about creating photoreal fantasy creatures I was asked to create an image of a fantasy beast called the Griffin in what could be its natural habitat. It is a creature that is half eagle and half lion, and I decided to illustrate it guarding its roost.

My tutorial brief required me to incorporate some photographic reference use, but a large portion of my art was manually created with nothing more than some simple brushes. Hopefully you find the process enlightening and enjoyable - let's get started!

If you know me, or have read any of my prior tutorials, then you'll know what I am going to begin with - doing research! It's important enough that I pretty much add this section before every tutorial and it's not just to pad out the word count I can assure you! It is just that important.

Whether you know or understand the subject matter intimately or not, you need to fill your consciousness with new information on a consistent basis in order to provide fresh ideas or you run the risk of growing stale and creating highly derivative art.

What does this mean in a practical sense? Well, in today's age of blogs, online articles, image archives, forums and the like this essentially means jumping on the internet and using your favourite search engine to source out some visuals to kick start your engine. Some of my favourites are listed below - it certainly isn't exhaustive, but these are typically all I need to find good reference:


If you don't have the internet then it means a little more leg work. Going to your local library, picking up a newspaper, magazine, trade journal or watching a movie and stock-piling your mental arsenal from there is a good start.

Whichever resources you choose to draw upon, just make sure you use them as inspiration only and don't plagiarise the work. That would be unscrupulous and does not help your skill level grow; indeed it will more likely lower your confidence in your own abilities.

Back to the griffin! Let's begin with a very rough pencil sketch in order to compose the layout of the final picture (Fig.01).


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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
(ID: 129797, pid: 0) Juan Francisco on Mon, 02 July 2012 2:19am
Excellent work and very didactic tutorial. I'll keep it as an example to initiate me into digital painting. thanks
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