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March 5, 2012
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So You Want To Design A Wolf Character ... by Droemar So You Want To Design A Wolf Character ... by Droemar
This is what I get for working in my sketchbook and following Youtube suggestions. I cannot stop watching terribly done wolf animation cartoons. God save me, I can't. I don't know what it is about the voice actors doing monotonous reads into crackling, static-filled microphones, the awful intros, the same story premise done over and over and over again, blatant disregard for copyright, clumsy animation, and emotion that is always emo and always overwrought.
It's like crack. Knock-off Ginga Weed Okami Balto crack, but still crack.
I watched one in particular that must have been a total bitch to animate simply because the artist had put so much stuff on the wolves's faces. Jewelry, markings, scars: it was all crammed in there. And it couldn't hide the fact that all of the characters looked exactly the same.
Which, really, is the problem with wolf art in the first place. I dare you to find a bigger walking cliche' than a wolf character. It's bad enough they're inherent Mary Sues for some reason, but 99% of the art with wolves looks exactly the same. It's somehow become inescapable, because all of the resource pools for it are the same. And the flame wars that result are tragically hilarious, mostly because they're born out of sheer ignorance.
The experienced artist, however, knows that wolves are so overdone that you've really gotta go pretty far out there to find something new. It's not impossible; it's just more of an effort than most of the Canis Bardus lovers on DA are willing to do.
So I thought I'd put something together that would help them discover their ignorance.
All art belongs to their respective owners and all that.

... Crap, I forgot Wolf's Rain.

Sitting wolf Lineart belongs to: :iconcunningfox:

First original wolf design belongs to :iconsketchinthoughts:

More examples of awesome silhouette work for wolves: [link]

And for realism/other animals: [link]
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Hentala Featured By Owner 18 hours ago  New member Hobbyist General Artist
Okay, originality goes its own way, but well, I do not see the necessarity of mutating, modificating wolf anatomy and proportions in order to create interesting character. I agree that just recoloring the overused lineart is not good, but shape is not all of the character. In fact, colours and personality of the character matters too [I won't discuss accesories but I don't think they should be something defining the character. After all, accesory could be taken away or changed anytime, they are not a part of design itself...] I guess it was already told, but even though pretty similiar in shapes, the characters from the headshot shadow part, drawn in semi-realistic cartoon style, are more appealing for my eye, and I would rather watch them than... [Warning, personal opinions ahead!]

This weird overly-muscled husky-thingy - the first under "what can I do" section - It does not look like a wolf. It doesn't. really. More like some dog. And it just... i don't know. There is just something off with it's anatomy that do not appeal to my tastes.

The second one. Well, not that bad. Not exactly in my taste, this thick neck and so much mane, but it's okay. But I still can Bet that someone would yell - this is not a wolf, wolves doesn't have mane... [not that I would agree with someone saying that, design does not have to look 100% like wolves in reality...] 

The third - first I thought: A hipogriff? Maybe because of the pelt. But still, does it have feathers?  Still, there is an anatomy sheet in the background of this image and it looks like some fantasy beast rather than a wolf [seriously, what is it with these huge shoulders... I bet it's theme giving these guys this savage appearance]

Next examples:
Wurr one - well, this is wurr, these are not wolves, but hellhounds - these were meant to be mutated and disfigured canines, not wolves.

Next one - maned wolf, I guess. This is just a specific style which does not bother with being realistic.

Next one: We see very muscly one, very fat one, very skinny one, another skinny one, and cute pups. All in cartoony style. And I honestly like these characters and like the style they are drawn in. But would it make them being not the same characters if someone drew them in other style, or realistic style? I bet they could still be recognized, even if cross-styled.

Okay, next. These wolves and foxes. Why do I get the feeling that these were just meant to look a bit caricatured? It's fun to draw caricatures, designing them, but I don't know aything of these charas aside of their funny look. And I would not use something looking like this for comic or roleplay unless it would be humor or parody-oriented

The last wolf one - As said above. Humorous caricatural drawing style is fine. But it's just not my style

The hyena/realistic one - this rescues the case, I would say... finally something that proves one do not have to draw caricatures/ heavily cartoony anatomy to make characters different from each other. Subtle anatomy details are enoug. Even though, I wouldn't tell them apart by the mere silhouette if they were posed in a way which does not feature their differences that much. I just wonder why there aren't any examples of semi realistic wolves being different from each other the way these hyenas are? just the cartoony/caricature examples?

Because I'm honestly tired of "searching for proper tutorials for drawing good canine designs" Making me bounce from tutorials that say: "Additional fur there and there and unrealistic proportions means this character shouldn't be called a wolf anylonger, wolves looks like this and this" and "This anatomy is bad, wolves are not that thin/fat/tall/short etc."
"Tail is too long/short/fluffy/big/small"  "It looks like coyote/fox/whatever not like a wolf" to the tutorials like this and all "because it is soo unoriginal, do this other way" "don't draw in [insert movie/cartoon/anime/artist/comic name here] style, it is so overrated!" stuff.

I'm tired of it. And I will base myself on whichever style I want, and I will neither fully follow realistic canon, nor over-exaggerated cartoon proportions. I'll just draw things the way I think is esthetic for me. And I do not care if someone have characters which look very similar. If anything, I will more readily read about their characters and see artwork with them, because I'm familiar with certain style. I do not have to block out the art and styles in my comfort zone because it's unoriginal and it's "right thing for artist  to always try something new and chase originality." I do art for fun, not for artistic prestige.

Sorry for this little rant, but I just wanted to state my opinion. You may agree or not, I just feel this way
Vanadium-Wolf Featured By Owner Edited 3 days ago
I'm not sure why, but I feel really offended by this.

Honestly I'm just going to try and forget it ever saw it and decided to read it in the first place.
HaphaxCorvid Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
The same would apply to a fantasy species I'd imagine, it's just difficult making something new when it involves an "overused" Creature (Dragons, wolves/canines and felines.) The least anyone can do though is try. I'm not sure about my species as they are based on canines and dog breeds; but I suppose their silhouette stands out from a normal canine or someone else's species ('square/angled' hindquarters as opposed to round, longer proportions, the crest at the back of the head *shrugs*). The topic can be likened to looking for a watermark. You want a strong and recognizable form. When I read your 'tut', I turn my gaze to the line-art users-Some definitely fit everything you're saying. Users that solely rely on line-art don't do much as far as external design. I agree, every character should not look like a clone. Every individual has variation that affect silhouette. I think design should come before style at some points. That's the route I'm going.
Chynbek Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014   General Artist
Itrakat Featured By Owner May 13, 2014  Student General Artist
This tutorial is the greatest tutorial of all time
Shadowdannie Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's not ignorance in artist when it comes to creating a wolf character. Of course all of the silhouettes are gonna look pretty much the's a wolf for fucks sake. you can't say that just because the silhouette of one persons wolf character looks like the silhouette of a different persons wolf character that it's not unique. It's not the silhouette that makes the character unique, the the design and personality. It's how someone portrayed that character that makes them unique. You are basically saying that people can't make unique anything because the proportions are all gonna look the same on the silhouette. As for markings, unless you want to have a decked out "sparkle dog" with outrageous colors (like some of my characters) then the design and markings are gonna be basically the same. Real wolves don't always look different from one another. So if anyone is being ignorant about this topic, I feel that it would be you. 
Chynbek Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014   General Artist
You say those things as if wolves don't have differing body shapes and markings. I guarantee you that if you were to Google any animal on the planet, you'd find plenty of differences in facial structure, proportions, and even markings from different photographs.
And btw, literally every adapt character designer in the world knows that silhouette, whether you're working with realism or not, is the most important factor to a character's design because it makes them instantly visually recognizable from their cast members. Simply put, if I can't tell your characters apart from their simple shadows, you have failed as a character designer.
Another thing that tells you your designs need work is what your characters individual features look like without any add ons, which includes colour. Seriously, now, if you were to draw your cast of characters without colour, accessories, clothing, or even hair, can you still tell them apart based on their anatomy alone? If the answer is no, your designs need work.
The silhouettes of the red wolves aren't unique in any way. When you strip them of their colours, you have pretty much the same character over and over again with slight tweaks that are attributed more to the (IMO) very generic styles of the artists. If we had to tell the characters apart without any of those markings, I'm pretty sure we'd all struggle to do so.
Personality is important, too, I agree; after all, you can have the prettiest character in the world but still lack a reason for people to give a damn about it. But, here's the thing: I can't identify a cast of characters based on their personalities. If I was introduced to a lineup of characters without knowing anything about them, I wouldn't start trying to tell them apart based on their personalities, but by their noticeable physical characteristics. If there aren't any, oh well, guess these are just boring carbon copies making up a crude cast of characters... again. Hey, at anything, I should be able to learn about a character's personality because of their appearance alone. I'd be mighty confused if someone using a cute 'n cuddly drawing style kept a generic huggable overall design for a wolf that would rip your face off for the simplest things.

Considering how many copy-paste-lookin' wolfies there are on dA, especially since they're mostly drawn by artists with less experience, yeah, it is because of ignorance of the craft. Character design is, after all, something that has to be learned. Even very talented artists have trouble designing unique characters at times. I'm not saying everyone's out there to be a character designer, either, but if you're going to be writing a comic or something of the sort, I would like to be able to tell the difference between the characters I'm looking at, which means that you had ought to learn how to make them identifiable from one another, and that does not mean adding poofy hair and eye-burning colour schemes. If I can't and nobody else but you and maybe a few dedicated fans can't, either, something is not right with the designs, and it's the artist's fault.
I'm in no way bashing those who try, however. I sure as hell wouldn't give a disapproving glance over at newer designers and artists for their mistakes since learning itself should never be scorned and every art, such as character design, must be practiced in order to see good results, but I just wish people would actually try to learn as opposed to thinking along the lines of, "Eh, they're the same animal, so they all look alike. If people can't tell them apart, I'll give them sparkly colours and different personalities." That would never work in the professional world of the art industry when it comes to character design, and even if you're not aspiring to be a pro, it's stupid to think you needn't make any effort to improve or grow. I mean, even hobbiests wanna be good at what they do, right?
Reminds me of that whole deal with those two leading ladies from Frozen and how crappy their designs were.
UZL-2S Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm going to just give my two cents and I shit u not I do not wish to argue with you about character design because i'm  a hobbyist and it's not worth my time and energy to argue with someone who tries to live up to professional standards or may just be a professional because I am a hobbyist, a roleplayer, sort of a shitty writer LOL and don't feel like arguing.
There's also the possibility of going "fuck trying to be unique" because that's pretty much what I do, because these are my characters, they will look the way I want them to and they will look in a way that pleases me because they were not meant to please anyone else. That's a stupid ass reason to design something with "unique" markings and colors because in the end you might just end up unhappy with it because you didn't design it the way you /wanted/ to.

I also keep my designs fairly simple; my most well known character on one site I was on at the time was a plain. white. wolf.
Plain. white.
Nothing special. At all. Ever.
Because fuck being special; someone else is going to get "inspired" by your design and try to copy it like maybe every single anime, movie, or video game out there. So, screw that. Nothing is unique; if you do it there's a possibly 70% chance someone has done something similar enough many times.
Trying to be unique in art is an oxymoron, and sometimes leaves the artist feeling like they've missed something because they're driven by this intense feeling that they should be 100% unique and not design the way they want to.

I found the majority of design being more or less in personality, ideals, morals, and the reasoning behind a character and how those specific things may influence the characters appearance; such as body language and mood.
My said white wolf is the wolf form of a shifter who hates magic users and goes out of her way to kill them; she uses magic and is thus a hypocrite, but doesn't care. Based on her experiences, she wants them dead; they strike her as cowards and she believes cowardice to be punishable by death.

I'm satisfied no matter how overused plain white wolves are; in her culture white was/is the color of death. It works. I'm not designing this to be a professional or look "pro" nor do I want to be a professional when it comes to my hobby (I'm going into game development for christ sake; I don't need to give two shits about what people think of my choices for a /hobby/. I'll invest all my effort, time, and resources/energy into my ACTUAL career.)

Protip tho; Scars are a good identifying trait if they're done right. (And i'm not talking about those stupid ass X or cross-shaped scars, I'm talking about /disfiguring/ scars or scars that cover large portions of the face and body.)

Never saw Frozen, don't plan to. Not into the whole princess thing.
Shadowdannie Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
K bye. 
Chynbek Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014   General Artist
Thoughtful response.
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