As part of an assignment, we were tasked with creating a creature that would fit within Johnny Fraser-Allen’s world of The Gloaming. Within this fantasy-based world, every creature is herbivorous, right down to insects. So I devised a creature that would fulfil the role of corpse disposal without actually eating the corpse. It is called the Lesser Crowned Harpy, named so for the large ‘crown’ of antlers that it uses to pick up and carry corpses, which it then takes back to the tree where it lives in order to provide sustenance for the tree.
I’ve always greatly enjoyed world-building, and this project allowed me to examine the world of the Gloaming, locate an area of world-building that the creator himself said he hadn’t put much thought into (when I asked him how corpses would be disposed of in order to prevent sickness through rotting flesh and build-up of waste matter), and devise a creature that filled that role.
So here it is: the Lesser Crowned Harpy. The project involved the character sheets detailing the skeletal and muscular structure of the creature (below) and a ZBrush sculpt of the creature’s head (above).
The Design Process:
Initially I looked at a wide variety of creatures that would be able to transport dead matter as part of a sustainable ecosystem. This varied from water-based creatures that were more frog-like, to flying creatures.
Once the Harpy’s design was somewhat solidified, I looked into colour schemes with a focus on natural contrasting colours, and from there went on to mock up a more cartoony rendering of the creature.