Utilizing Reference Images: Create Believable Creatures Premium class

RJ Palmer, Illustrator and Concept Artist

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5 Videos (48m)
    • Concept Sketching

      12:32
    • Research and Reference

      8:39
    • Refine Concept

      6:10
    • Lighting

      10:33
    • Final Touches

      10:19

About This Class

It is industry standard to use reference material when working on illustration and concept art fields. It is often cited that the difference between an amateur and a professional is knowing when reference is necessary. Skills taught in this class will greatly benefit most basic to intermediate level artists.

What You'll Learn



Students will learn to apply anatomy and detailing from the real world into their concept designs. This class will emphasize the use of reference to make your designs strong and believable.

Lessons will touch on breaking down and understanding the anatomy of your reference material and how you can apply that to your own work as well as understanding how to utilize reference material without becoming married to the reference. 


  • Concept Sketching.
 In this stage we start tooling around with different shapes and designs, looking for an idea that really clicks. It is important during this stage to stay loose and just keep an open mind.


  • Research/Reference. 
With a start of a cool idea, we now need to find reference to really make our design believable. It is important during this stage to research subjects in the same vein as your design, this will help you better understand what reference to look for.


  • Refine. 
Now with proper reference and better understanding of your idea, it is time to refine. This step is very important, its where you eliminate all your missteps and bring your concept to the next level.


  • Lighting. 
In this lesson we focus on how the right lighting can effect your design. Different lighting schemes will be showcased, discussing the difference in mood and atmosphere.


  • Final Touches. With all of hardest part done, it is time to finish off your design. In this lesson I will touch on the importance of color temperature and how it impacts your design. This stage can become the most fun as you the last of the pieces fall into place and your hard work pays off.



What You'll Make

During the class, students will create a creature design worthy of their portfolio. Students learn to utilize the importance of realistic texturing to enhance their creatures. Though the focus of these lessons will be on creature design, many of the skills taught are applicable to any subject matter where you would use reference materials.

35 of 35 students recommendSee All

Very interesting way to use lighting and color together. Also loved the scales and rendering. Well done.
brilliant, i recommend for those looking to sharpen up their character design
Great and simple way to get a Overview and a starting Point in creating your own "more natural" looking Monsters. However, what really drew me in was the excellent Light-Theory. I worked with it before, but never really understand the Concept of it, but I think,I got the Gist of it now.

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RJ Palmer

Illustrator and Concept Artist

RJ Palmer is 24 year old freelance concept artist and illustrator. He specializes in character and creature design. His work has been featured on many websites, including IGN.com, Kotaku.com, and Geekologie.com.