Wednesday, August 19, 2009

There's more than one way to skin an owlbear.

So...after some amount of work, this is the musculature and face shape I went with. The feet were possibly the hardest part. I kept wanting to give it what basically amounted to owl feet but frankly they just arent that great for bearing 15 feet tall owlbears around on the ground all day, nor are they particularly well suited to bludgeoning. So...after talking with some good friends and throwing some works in progress around on instant messengers, I went with a combination of the flat, sturdy bear paw, thick but gangly ostritch toes and big meat hook predatory bird claws. If I wasnt trying to come up with something that still had the old timey D&D flavor in addition to being less cut&paste fantasy, I think I would have made it far more spindly and bird boned. I've fought these in D&D though, and they're definatley not spindly. Oh, as a footnote, I used the most normal head shape (pretty close to barn owl anatomy) in order to keep the original concept more visible. I ended up deciding that out of the three I liked best, this one would give me more freedom with the creature's skin covering and patterns and such before players started going "Whaaat is that?!". We gamers tend to be a finicky bunch. We'll groan about the busted old stuff but when it gets updated/changed too much we'll pitch fits. I'm looking for that happy medium.

Here's the first round of possible fur/feather/scale/whatnot layouts for the Owlbear. They're a little hard to distinguish without color and line weight, bear with me. No pun intended.

A. This was actually the last one I did..I think I labeled these backwards. Anywho, this one has short stiff fur that sticks out straight. I thought a short striped tail might be fun for signaling and such. I shouldent technically be thinking about pattern too much at this stage but I did anyhow. Aside from the back of the neck the fur is pretty much svelt and form fitting compared to the classic owlbear.

B. I thought mabe some large plates or scales might be fun. Really the difference between feathers and scales is very small, it's all just modified hair; or rather hair and feathers are modified scales. There are a few other scaley designs in here. The blank areas denote smaller scales.

C. The head ornamentation is based off of a bearded vulture! This one also has fairly floofy front claws, which is basicly me thinking about whether or not I want to echo wings with the front arms. Seems risky, you lose a lot of form that way but I kinda like this one.

D. In retrospect I wish I had have made the hanging fur that runs from the chin to the tail much longer. This is another fairly simple offering.

E. Wildebeeste! This one I like also...maybe it's just the beard though. :)

F. Shaggier that E but more cropped than some. Also this one would keep the disc like face shape of the owl parts intact. Apparently the beak is thin and the two disks are shaped that way to better channel sound over the owl's ears, and beaks (which are technically a type of horn) evolved because teeth are too heavy. Also beaks are very fragile, much like fingernails. I LOVE SCIENCE!

G. Cockatoo! Hey there is a lot that can be done with a crest like that, all kinds of signaling and displaying and badassery, did I mention headbanging? Also I'm digging the floofy tail, reminds me of a giant anteater.

H. I rather dislike this..I think I was thinking about Macaws, but, it's so wretched I'll just move on XP

I. here's another scaled one. I think I was trying to play up how scales are so similar to feathers here, especially around the head. I'm either very anal or very loose with scales, so, this is more of a reminder to myself of the concept should I choose it and dive in more seriously later..there's a lot of scale(size) and layout issues I'd devote more thought to.

J. Bird of Paradise! The back half is ctually very unadorned compared to the massive back floof. I think this one has some potential..but I think it might also be too far from 'owlbear'. Still, I dig :)

K. This one seemed like a good idea at the time. Another BoP.

L. This was the second one I did actually. I wanted to have a go at the feathered raptor bit, which I later retried. Lots of bare skin/scales on this inbetween the patches of feathers. He looks fast :)

M. So, this I like also. It's all skin flaps, which I thought could be fun as they could in theory be raised like feathers, so, it could have the laid back face where everything is pressed tight to the body, and then it could have these big threat displays where the skin flaps stand up and flush with color, and also give the face that owl-y flat look. This could be done with the scales and fur to a degree as well, but this idea tickles me for that.

N. If you're sticking your head into corpses to pull out the deeelisssious organmeats, having gore stock to your beautious and delicate plumage sucks. So here's one that's bald. There's a lot that could be done here in terms of coloration- just look at Cassowaries.

O. Another go at the feathered raptor bit. You can tell I'm getting tired >.> It might work out though.

P. Te classic Owlbear. Shaggy, floofy. Probably some extra floof. Oh you can also see an artifact on this one that I forgot to erase on the back feet >.> Glad I didnt keep those!

So...Of these, I'm most excited about the skin flaps and the scaley ones, E, F, C, G, and...well, the classic might hold merit. Dangerous waters though. It now becomes a question of how much I can play with the recipie before my pie becomes..uh...something not wholly pie-like. Yeah okay my analogy-thinking part of the brain went to sleep. Good night!

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