Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Alex the Mastermind

The initial idea was to send this as a presente to Dr. Pepperberg as a token of appreciation for her efforts to understand animals. Maybe I'll do it anyway, but I'm not sure this version of the image is appropriate for that. As much as I like anthros they are not the answer to everything and this parrot just doesn't feel like an anthro version of Alex.

I like to study anatomy thorougly and so I have always played with the anatomy of the anthros I draw and invented unusual designs like this one. I especially like functional designs which keep key features of the original animal but don't show stuff which is blatantly against physics (such as wings on a human-size creature) or would be very awkward for a real creature. That's why the owl in Harvest Moon has a birdlike body with backward knees, vestigial wings and fake beak over a human mouth. Such designs are cool for original characters like that one, but in this case, the more I look at it the more it feels weird.

When playing with anatomy with a realistic style the risk of falling into the Unbcanny Valley is always high and I think I crossed the line with this parrot. Maybe it's the beak - I left it as in the real bird because it's Alex's "face" I wanted to show after all, but maybe I should have gone all the way and used a vestigial beak like I did for the owl. Maybe it's that the legs bent in that odd way are too promintent (and very different from those of a real perched parrot) and look Exorcist-y. Maybe it's that the coloring is not very good, I did this before learning the details of color temperature and also I didn't pay enough attention to texture, and as a result the feathers look like octopus skin, and are too much detached from the rest of the picture.

I'll let this rest during vacations and give it a freshed look later. If I still have this impression I'll do a remake with either a different anthro parrot or a with a regular parrot.

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