In this tutorial I will guide you through the process of creating a cartoon animal character. This time the victim is the armadillo!
Apart from being a curious looking animal with a hard shell that gets killed on the roads in Mexico, I didn't know much about armadillos. The first thing to do is to gather references and study the subject. The internet is your best friend on this, so start by searching for armadillo photos from as many points of view as you can. Also search for photos and schematics of the skeleton, as they will provide you with good information on the shape and angle of the limbs, joints, mouth position, number of toes etc. You should also try to read a few webpages about the animal's biology, geographic location and habits.
With the animal photos, skeleton and bio in hand you will be surprised by the amount of new ideas that will come to your mind. Also, you will be able to avoid some simple design mistakes, like putting a pouch on a male kangaroo (which I did on a previous image)!
I have started by sketching the armadillo, trying to include all of its characteristic elements (Fig.01). The nine-banded armadillo variety was my preference and its main characteristics are:
• The long, pointed snout it uses to reach food
• Long ears
• A hard shell made of several bands which allows it to be flexible
• Strong claws that allow it to dig
• Four toes on the front feet
• Five toes on the hind feet
• A long ringed tail.
The process of drawing the character will force you to analyze each of its parts and will make you very conscious of each detail before attempting to turn your armadillo into a cartoon.
The main purpose of this tutorial is to create a presentation shot of the character, so we should think about how to stylize it, but also how to pose and present it. A character's pose tells us a lot about its personality, so you should avoid using a T-Pose or a neutral pose when the objective is to sell/approve a character.
The armadillo is an animal that exists in Texas and Mexico, so I have decided that a shot of tequila or a Corona beer could complement the character well. As the armadillo has quite short limbs, it was funny to imagine how he could drink from a bottle. I sketched the idea (Fig.02) and simplified the forms a bit. Notice how I have reduced the number of bands on the back and tried to make the snout more geometric. I also gave more importance to the eyes.
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