This idea spawned while working out some thumbnail iterations and looking at reference of a bat crawling. There was a weird optical illusion with the way the webbing between the legs folded, making it look like it had a 5th appendage. I decided to take that optical illusion and flesh it out. The evolutionary "logic" behind it would be that what was once a tail, is now a crude foot like appendage used to spring onto larger prey. While on the prey it can jab at it with the exposed bone jutting from the main structure of the appendage. Originally the 5th limb rested under a traditional tail when I realized I could create an evolutionary feature, where what was once a tail evolved into a bulkier appendage.
The goal early on was the design a creature that was a real pain in the ass for it's environment. Something that was a scavenger and predator with attributes found in real life animals like otters, baboons, hyenas and wolverines. The baboon influence lead to the exposed gums and the otter influence was eventually abandoned. The first direction for a more otter like creature can be seen in an image below.
At one point when working on this concept I was on my back staring at a static ceiling fan, my arms sprawled out. Working long hours tends to wear down the nerves a bit. Since I'm working from home I did what I do best, angry nap. I fell asleep for 10 minutes and woke up completely out of my mood and knowing what I needed to do. Mood is a big part of working, the technical side is critical but painting with feeling is important. There are a number of ways to brush off discouraging moments and plow ahead. Sometimes stepping away physically and mentally is the best option. When working on site it involved going on a brief walk or in the case of Netherrealm, playing a quick game of NFL Blitz in the arcade room.
(Reference sheet used during the early thumbnail stage as well as rendering.)
(The main render with a few additional story notes.)
(The call out sheet detailing behavior, physical details and even hints at domestication.)
In this case experimenting helped jar me out of a block. When struggling with the anatomy I took out some clay and built a very crude model of the creature. It helped me understand the macro forms and also find the gesture in 3D. The execution wasn't perfect but it definitely pushed in the right direction. If time permits the clay exploration will be revisited as it is quick and profoundly helpful. In the future will utilize this more for anatomy and lighting as well.
Currently I am finishing a beast of burden concept that was meant to be paired as the prey to this predator/scavenger. A hint of the creature can be seen in the call out sheet above, Hoping to finish that by next week alongside more Mortal Kombat X work.