Saturday, September 25, 2010

Welcome Terryl Whitlatch!

AAU Creature Design Instructor Terryl Whitlatch will now be a co-author of this blog. It seems only natural to pair supplemental information for creature design along with character design since there is a fair amount of overlap between the two. I highly recommend Terryl's courses for those of you who are focusing on CG animation, game design, graphic novels and illustration.

Terryl Whitlatch is an accomplished scientifically and academically trained illustrator who extensively studied vertebrate zoology and animal anatomy. She has worked for various zoos and museums in the US and the World Wildlife Fund and has served as senior consultant for wildlife art and animal anatomy in many venues.
For over seven years, Terryl worked for Lucasfilm, LTD., Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) and George Lucas?s JAK Films and is considered to be one of the leading creature designers in the world. Her unique combination of illustration skills and widespread knowledge of animal anatomy and movement are essential components in the design, anatomy, and physical animation aspects of creature creation.
She worked directly with writer/director George Lucas on the recent Star Wars Trilogy, Episodes 1 and 2, designing countless creatures for the films and related products. Chronicle Books published a collection of her work for Lucasfilm, The Wildlife of Star Wars, in 2001, which gained critical acclaim and popular success.
Terryl has also designed for many electronic and interactive games (including Steven Spielberg's The Dig) and Entertainment Arts. She has worked with many major studios and effects houses as a creature, character, and concept designer. In addition to her work on Star Wars, her films include Jumanji, The Indian in the Cupboard, Brother Bear, Dragonheart, Men in Black, Frankenstein, The Princess of Mars, The Polar Express, Zafari, Jancroon, and Beowulf. Other clients include Pixar, LeapFrog, and the Gnomon Workshop.
Terryl is also the author and illustrator of The Katurran Odyssey, the first volume of a trilogy, as well as the soon to be released Animals Real and Imagined: the fantasy of what is and what might be. In addition to her continuing work on The Katurran Odyssey series, Terryl is illustrating her book, The Animals of the Bible, as well as creatures and characters for Helpful Bear Productions, Inc.
She resides in Alameda, California, and works as a freelance Concept Artist, and she is also teaching Animal Anatomy, Wildlife Illustration, and Creature Design for the Animation and Illustration Schools at the Academy of Art University.

As for her philosophy on creature design, Terryl says "in order to draw imaginary creatures well, and with credibility, and even to stylize them down to iconic images (such as Yogi Bear), one needs to know and understand and appreciate real animals, and to love them, and to prefer painting,sculpting, and drawing them even more than the imaginary ones. That is what, in my opinion, it takes to be a good creature designer. Real animals always take priority over the imaginary. They are the ones that give you wings."


  1. I love your book bought from Waterstones and will buy your dvds
    to give me more insight on creating made up creatures that have a heart and a soul too
    hope you bring another book its a real treat ^^

    Lorna Constance UK
    Leeds met student

  2. Hi, I'm a research-based art student from Malaysia. Is it possible to get Ms. Whitlatch's email add from you? It's for my Character Design research data collection purposes.

  3. I think you've done a real disservice to creature design with your philosophy of making every creature look like it would exist in real life. I everyone went by that kind of logic, then we would never ave had creatures like ALIEN or Predator or the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

    Hate to tell you this, but outside of your cult worshipers, the only thing you've done that can be easily recognized is Jar Jar Binx.

    That's not really something to be proud of.

  4. My teenage son loves your work and I have been desparately searching for your latest book "Principles of Creature Desgin" with no luck. Please help. I would love to get this book for him as a Christmas present.