Drawing Tips | The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories

- Tip -

How to solve the puzzle of a new mythical creature


The workshop secretary, Dorothea, recently brought us a letter from a storyteller named April.  April needed a mythical creature with the head of a buffalo, the body of a zebra, the legs of a llama and the tail of a kangaroo.  Just this morning, the workshop received another request to see more mythical creatures, from Minaal!

Creating a mythical creature is a little like solving a puzzle. We have a set of different pieces and now we need to figure out how to put them together.

First, make yourself familiar with what the animals look like.  Photographs can be very helpful, and can be easily found.  April has made it easy for us because she has already given us the pieces of the puzzle.

Now that I know what the different animals look like, I have to find a way to blend them together.  We need to blend the head and neck of a buffalo with the body of a zebra, and that zebra body needs to blend with llama legs and a kangaroo tail.

Blending is essential to making a mythical creature come alive.  Otherwise, the creature may look more like a Frankenstein of strange parts rather than something real.  You can utilize the different kinds of fur and hide (not to mention scales and feathers) to your advantage when blending creatures together.

For example, buffalo have a thick coat that runs down the upper part of their neck and torso.  I used that to my advantage to mix with the striped body of a zebra.

Buffalo are much larger than zebras, which poses a little bit of a problem. To make the creature look convincing, I will adjust the back of the zebra body to meet with the neck of the buffalo.


To add the legs of a llama, I let the zebra stripes continue a little down the legs, so the transition again feels more natural.

The kangaroo has a strong tail that begins at the base of the spine where the tail root is, so that is where I will connect it.


By using color, I made the coat start turning into llama and kangaroo fur before it turned into the legs and tail, and I used the zebra’s stripes to blend all of the parts together.


I learned something interesting about kangaroos when I looked at creating this new creature.  A kangaroo’s tail is used not only for balance, but also for speed.  This might be an interesting detail to explore in other illustrations, and in a story!

Try to solve a puzzle like this, and remember to have fun with it!  The elves have created more tips on creatures and animals, as well!  Creatures-Animals.


 This tip was inspired by April from Bedias.

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