Artist Spotlight – Ken Barthelemy amd David Krentz

In these short series of posts I will look at my favorite artists in a specific category and why I like them!

This time we will focus on my favorite organic character people – Ken Barthelemy and David Krentz. I have yet again decided to group up a set of artist because while Ken focuses on alien life and David’s specialty is dinosaurs – I like them both for the same reasons. And again… after staring at their works across a million blogs, forums and portfolios I have gathered a handful of simple rules that I follow when making my organic designs.

  1. Do the science – this may sound weird, but get an encyclopedia or two and find out a bit about anatomy and basic features of the type of animal that you are making. Examples of this include looking into why different birds have different diets and how this affects the shape of their beaks, how predators always have forward facing eyes while herbivores have them placed on the sides. While studying the anatomy of an animal can give you a very accurate crocodile, understanding the formation of the scales and how they are spread out as well as why they are spread out like that can let you play with the variations to the point where you get a dragon.
  2. Work your way out – when I look at designing a reptilian head I often start with a basic bone structure – where pieces of hard shell will penetrate the skin or be close to the skin and such. I then move to the muscle layer – if the creature has a large jaw, chances are that the jaw muscles need to be large as well, if the head has heavy bone plates on it then the neck might be shorter and more bulked up. Next I look at the skin – where folds might build up by the movement and stretch and how large folds might occur in areas the see more movement like the neck or around the eyes. Finally I look a wrinkle details – which concentrate over the same areas as the folds, but I usually limit to textured details as I don’t want to lose too much of the original shape.
  3. Surface features – building off the previous two points adding things like feathers, horns or other larger details requires some research and consideration of purpose – are they for display, defense or attack.

These are my general guidelines from making a believable organic model that I have extracted from my favorite artist in the field.

Some examples of the work from the two:


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