Hummingshrew

Drawing those kind of creatures is a funny exercise. It didn't take much time and yet was a very enjoyable exercise. If you are short on ideas, I recommend trying to mix two random animals (or three, for more daring) and also design some new colors for the resulting creature. I decided to try with hummingbird and shrew combination. I sketched out on paper many other little things, but this one I certainly liked the most.

I start with redrawing my sketch into Photoshop ;) Well, it's not very detailed, but all features were drawn, we can clearly see the shape and composition is also decided so it's enough. No background this time. From the very beginning I was planning on putting some random color here and I still don't want to care too much about it since this is supposed to be a short exercise. Then I pick colors for my hummingshrew. Purple is my main choice, but I add a little bit of juicy orange and dark pink (or red?) to make the contrast less prominent. Mother nature would never allow this combination, I guess, but that's part of the fun ;) Color for the background was chosen randomly and then I played around with some hue sliders in Photoshop, to see what works best.

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Then a bit of light and dust, flying whatevers and our background became a bit more lively. It's still nothing praiseworthy but it will have to do. I start painting the little snout. I ended up using a bit weird brush, which was really more of a nuisance than anything else (it has texture added and it annoyed me greatly), but sometimes you just have to try things out before you know they are not for you. I add more colors to my basic purples and pinks, trying to figure out the 3D shape. Light comes from above, so I have a bright edge here and chin (chin..?) stays in the shadow, where colors are a little bit duller and darker.

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After head is more or less done, I'm rushing to see the rest colored. I just want to see the main shape, check if shadows and lights work, forming it into a little, cute ball. After that I get rid of the sketch, since I see where the details should be and add some hues of blue to the lighter parts of fur. To blend everything and get rid of hard edges, I play with some artistic Photoshop filter (no, it won't paint anything for you, I use it only to blur things out). This is just a base color for us, so we don't need any details here. We will paint them now though, starting with the pinky snout.

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You can see me slowly painting fur here. Hair by hair, stroke by stroke. Boring, but very easy, if you are careful about the colors. I pick colors from my base layer and paint fur with a bit lighter and darker value. Sometimes I do get a little wild, as you can see near the eye, where I used really dark tones. I settled for very dark and dull purple. Sometimes, instead of using brush, I switch to smudge tool and just play with the base layer, to create fur-like texture. Whiskers on the separate layer, always. That might be a bit surprising but this drawing was something like 3-5 layers at best: background, shrew, whiskers ;)

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Time has come for the berry. It's worth notice how the lights and shadows work here. Sphere is the most basic shape you can get. Left outer edge is very bright, this is were our main light is, after all. That line of light is thin and sharp, just like on the snout. From the right side, we have gradually appearing shadow. Those little paws holding the berry also leave shadow, but it's more grey - dark color reflects in the surface. Then on the bottom you can see a bit of blue light, reflected from the fur on the belly. Pay attention to the details!

Drawing this was very boring, too much fur :D Luckily this looks pretty decent, from the distance my hummingshrew starts to look pretty convincing. Sometimes it's good to leave zoom and see the whole picture, check how it's going. It's very easy to put a ton of details which simply do not work, because they are too prominent and take attention from the subject, rather than make it more interesting.

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Creature is almost ready, only small details left on the tail, paws and of course I'll still need to paint the wings. Firstly I finish up paws, since that's not something hard to do. I just use dark, very dark grey to paint the shape and then add white edges and small stripes to make them less flat. On the middle picture you can see how it looks in 100% zoom. Not really pretty, right? :D

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I had a clear image in my head, regarding end of the tail. I wanted it to be translucent and a bit like young fern leaf. Below you can see how I achieved that, secret is in the lights of course. We've got very bright light in the form of bright edge, then some warm shadows and saturated, rich light in the center part of the tail. That's the light that came through. Rest of the tail is blurry, I added "Motion blur" filter to that part, selecting it with the lasso tool first. Finally time to make those wings move.

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What I sketched on those wings, I blur out with "Motion blur" filter and same thing happens with the second wing. I am not even trying to do anything else, this is how I want those wings to be. Then I gently add some contrast and saturation and the drawing is ready.

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You should really try painting something like this. Great exercise for creativity, handling colors and lot's of fun :)