Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Today, I'm taking a bit of time (okay, a whole lot of time) to write up these entries, and do the judging.

The Write-up

Just so you are aware - this will be my criteria:
• Followed the description
• Concept & vision
• Personal perceptions and thoughts (yes, this is rather subjective)
• Render style/quality will only be used in the case of tie-breakers

I could hand out a dozen or more awards...cutest, best rendered, best concept, creepiest...but instead I'll let me comments tell the tale.

Aaron Miller
Cool concept. Breaks from the original vision. Shows all three creatures. The only disconnect for me has to do with the color panels on their shoulders - this really made me think of a butterfly wing, and really pushed the concept of an "owlbear" a little outside my expectations.

Alex Drummond
Nice and scary. Here's a creature that I wouldn't want to run across in a dark forest. I like the "talon" influence on the hands. The claw nipples and claw antenna feel a bit arbitrary though. Did not show all three creatures. But gets high marks for "creep" factor.

Anna Christenson
Has all three critters. Definitely gets the bear aspect across, and the hint of owl is nice with the hair tufts, but would like to see that aspect pushed a bit further. Like the broken frame with the fish and rocks. Nice render

Char Reed
Got all three critters. Like the fact that you pushed the concept well away from the original by making it an avian based critter. The fur feather mix feels a bit awkward. What if the body maintained feathers rather than fur? Would that make the critter feel more integrated?

Christopher Reach
All the critters included. For some reason, this one has a high "creep" factor too. I think it is the skull-like heads. I like that it is difficult to tell whether we are looking at feather or kind of feels like both! I can really see why a person that ran across this critter might have to grasp for to animals to form a descriptor. Nice concept.

Claudio Pozas
Wizards Community Page
This one stopped me in my tracks when I was loading it up. Just love the presentation. It has all three critters. The bear aspect is there, and the owl aspects are really subtle but there. This one is one of my favorites just because of the expressions in the critters. Really nice job!

Craig Maher
All three critters are in there (took me a minute to find the infant though). At first I really liked this one, but then I started having all kinds of questions. The anatomy just doesn't tie together for me. There is this massive body supported, for the most part, by the small feet and thin legs in the rear. The upper body have a decidely human feel to it (albiet hunched over). What do you think? Does it hang together?
... all that said, I enjoy the concept and presentation though. If you were to change anything, what would you change?

Dan Helzer
All three critters. Made me think of one of those asian bears (honey bear?? I can't remember the name) due to it's markings. The markings subtley remind me of an owl, and they do look like bears. I would like to have seen the concept pushed further.

Daniel Smith
Missing the infant. High "creep" factor. For some reason, I think it's the eyes, these guys look more like cave dwellers than forest dwellers. Concept has some good points. I'd like to see how else the owl influence can be worked into the body to tie it all together.

Doug Kovacs
All three critters. More "creep" factor. Are you guys trying to give me nightmares? Love the decorative owl elements built into the body. I really like how the upper body has the appearance of an owls face. Could you have pushed that a bit more and made the face more beak-like in appearance? WOuld it have gone too far and made it trite? My only real complaint has to do with the anatomy - these guys look like a human running around on all four. I would have liked them to have more bestial anatomy.

Gene Snyder
All three critters. Similar to the original. Bear body - owl head. Since the goal of this was to take a new look and push the concept of the original I would have liked to see this pushed further. Question for you...why would a creature have both a beak and teeth? Not a bad idea, but why would they have it from an evolutionary standpoint? Answer that question and it might help you find a way to integrate them better.

All three critters. I like the fact that the "paws" feel like "wings" a bit. Thats a lot of claws though. Does it seem odd that the number of digits would vary so much from hands to feet? Similar to the original. Bear body - owl head. Since the goal of this was to take a new look and push the concept of the original I would have liked to see this pushed further.

Heather Hudson
Great head. Love the fact that it takes cues from an owl, but doesn't look like an owl. Those forward limbs are the craziest thing I've every seen. The coolness factor of them helps me overlook the fact that I can't imagine how they would actually work. Can you imagine getting a hangnail? Ouch! The claws/nipples on the chest caught my attention. Made me wonder what a critter like this would be like if they used their arms to ensnare prey (maybe they would be long and kinda rope-like), and pull them in to their chest where they would have articulated claws that would hold the prey while they fed...great. Now I just creeped myself out too. Great job for really pushing the concept!

Hrvoje Čolić
All three (four!) critters. We've got a bear body and an owl head. I would have liked to see this pushed further. Like the setting.

Igor Kieryluk
Interesting concept. Has all three critters. THe infant reminds me of a asian mokey I saw once. I like the bestial stance of the critteres, and that the head have an owl-like look without being actual owl heads. Could there be more difference between sexes rather than just a bit of size and weight? Since these guys have a great cat feel to them - could you have given a nod to the lion and used some aspects of the anatomy to emphasis the differences in the sexes?

Jason Cheeseman-Meyer
Okay, it we had a owl monkey...this would be it. Love the eyes, they give it the owl feeling all by themselves. The mouth is a nice integration of the critters too. Almost looks beak-like, but really works as a mouth full of teeth. The "hands" bother me though. It might just be the presentation though. I'm guessing that you were going to the three-toed sloth feel with them. Nice just doesn't feel like a bear got mixed into the recipe. Oh yeah...all three critters included.

Joe Slucher
This critter has some interesting potential, but has some consistency issues. All three critters included. The eyes on the shoulders are an interesting variant, and a bit creepy when looking at the infant. The adults have a very gorilla-like posture and anatomy - while the infant feels more bear-like. Also, the mouths on the adults are radically different. I'm all for the male having the decorative spikes for sex differentiation, but having a very different mouth seems like some weird evolutionary twist. What do you think?

John-Paul Balmet
I won't get into the whole anatomy question of how arms and wings will work together in a skeletal and musculature arena, and just say that this is the most "noble" of all the critters presented. It's like the bald eagle of the owlbear world. Big regal and proud. Nice presentation.

Joseph Wu
It's just such cool origami. I'm blown away! Having no practical experience with origami, I don't even know where to start with critic or suggestions. I like that it incorporates wings, and captures the eyes of the owl.

Joshua Venis
Barn owls run amok! All three critters (the baby is in the net). The concept is there. I'd like to see it pushed more, but it's a nice start. Suggestion - grab yourself some reference for animal anatomy so that you can nail the posture and ways the limbs would tie to the body and move.

JP Mullen
All three critters. These guys have heavy owl reference. With the exception of the claws on the wings, there isn't a whole lot of bear influence. Even if the concept is rendered in a more light-hearted manner - I'd like to get the sense that these guys are the terror of the woods.

Kahi Aspelund
All three critters. The idea of a bear-sized "flying squirrel" just cracked me up...and terrified me a bit. Great sex and age distinguishing characteristics.
...and that beak just looks vicious. Question? Should they be a little more svelt to pull of the idea of gliding creatures?

Lothar Speer
Nice light-hearted presentation. Love the baby. Makes me think of a owlbear Cthulhu hummingbird. I think the "mouth" is really successful on the female and baby. Has a nice creep factor...and still manages to look cute on the baby. Of the three, I think the baby holds together the best, and would make a great creature unto itself.

Lu Vazquez
All three critters. For some reason I prefer the female presentation. I think it pushes the concept the most, and has the best incorporation of body elements...not to mention she just looks tough! I think it is the posture and anatomy that attract me the most. The male loses some of that massive and daunting feel to him. I really like that the dark rims around the eyes make the eyes appear larger than they are, and enhances that owl-like feel.

Michael Matteri
Fun presentation. Has all three critters (more or less). I like that the claws are incorporated into the end of the wings, and almost look like hard sharp feathers.

Michael Merissi
Okay, this was another one of those images that stopped me while I was loading it. For no other reason that it looks totally bad ass. This guy just looks fierce! I really enjoyed the render style and presentation as well. Wish I could have seen the female and infant. From a concept standpoint, this is one of the more successful for stepping outside the "norm" on the owlbear.

Mike Sass
Speaking of stepping outside the norm. Holy cow! Now here's a concept that hits on all the cylinders. It has elements of owls and bears. Looks terrifying. Really pushes the concept...hard! Is very integrated, and just flat out has a presence. This would be an owlbear that would just scare the hell out of me. Nicely done!

Nate Goullette
This one reminds me of bobcats. I think it's the coloration and ear tufts. All three critters shown. Suggestion - figure out whether you want this creature on all four or upright. Generally creatures do not look "at home" in both postures.

Nathan Furman
All three critters shown. A great black and white piece. Love the story, and expressions. The critters seem a little too humanoid for this concept, but I really like them. I can see them as some obscure humanoid race that adventurers stumble upon in some remote forest.

Ned Rogers
All three critters shown. An enchanting image. Love the infant playing with the glowing light. This is a very interesting concept. The "flap head" is odd and provocative. Makes me wonder why the rest of the body is so filled out, and doesn't reflect that motif again...but it really got my attention, and broke away from the obvious solutions. Way to push the envelope.

Nicole McDonald
Nice light-hearted presentation, and yet they still have a fierce look to them (well, not the infant. He's just flat out cute). I would have liked to see the concept pushed more, but it is pretty successful at this point.

Patrick Jones
All three critters. Love the expressions and presentation. The infant reminds me of a poodle for some reason. I think it is the pose and expression...makes me smile. I like that the fur takes on some characteristics that emulate feathers in some areas.

Paul (Prof) Herbert
Can you make these guys look any more evil? This one wins the "creep" award. These guys are positively demonic...owlbears go to hell! Is it just me, or is the infant the creepiest of all of them? Thanks Prof, you just gave me nightmares for a month. Great concept!

Piya Wannachaiwong
Dinos and owlbears. Is it a winning combination? I'll let you decide. It definelty steps outside the normal. Nice concept, I would like to have seen more bear influence though.

Rhonda Libbey
What big eyes you have
...the better to see you with
What big "teeth" you have
...the better to tear you to pieces
What big claws you have
...uh, repeat the above line

Who would think that such a cute and innocent baby would grow into such a menace. Nice way to push outside the "obvious" box.

Robert Tritthardt
Great retro feel, and I like the integration of the plants. Original thought.
All three critters and a stupid farmer

Ryan Lord
Another barn owl influenced piece. Pretty nice, but I'd like to see the concept pushed further than owl heads and bear bodies. All three critters shown

Sam Kennedy
OMG!! This is so creepy. If I took Lothars baby, and grew it really big, sent it to hell, mutated it with odd nuclear chemicals, and threw in a dose of psychedelic drugs...well I still don't think I'd get here. Crazy concept!

Scott Flanders
Two critters shown. Very similar to original concept, but a nice presentation.

Thom Scott
Three critters shown. Some nice elements, but the concept could have been pushed more.

Thomas Legg
I want to be the guy lounging under the shield. He doesn't look to concerned about his fellows (I'd have to kill him if I survived...just on principle) All three shown.

Go Forth. Create!


To Be Seen...
Got questions, or want to see a discussion on a particular subject. Drop me a line at ArtDrop Questions.

Don't forget that you can also send your art submissions to Wizards of the Coast at ArtDrop Submissions. Please make sure that your submissions do not total more than 5 Mb, or your email might get bumped.


Joe Slucher said...

Wow Jon, I wasn't expecting you to comment on every piece! That was very nice of you. Thanks for taking the time to write a few words on mine.

David Fedan said...

The entry by Mike Sass just kicks you know what! Nice job, everyone.

Nasan Hardcastle said...

Jon, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate all the work you put into this blog. Having only found it a short while ago, I find all the advice and experience, you post here, invaluable.
Keep up the excellent work!

Claudio Pozas said...

Wow, Jon! This was totally worth waiting for!

And thank you for your kind comments.

When making up the creatures, I had to think "what are the most distinguishing features of bears and owls?". For owls, it had to be the yellow eyes and facial disks (pretty much only owls have facial disks), and for bears it was the general body shape and the black nose. From there it was a matter of finding a way to mix those elements.

Doug Kovacs said...

First off, Jon ; thanks for the rich write ups. I really appreciate the effort and insight. -- And, a thought: The fact that these were creatures of Fey realm seemed important to me. If allowed, I'd bring it up in defense of Aaron Miller's "color panels".

Joseph Wu said...

Thanks, Jon. I guess I left you speechless. :)
If anyone wants to see more studies, I've posted them here:

Ryan said...

Thanks for taking the time to give everyone feedback. I also just started reading this blog, but I feel like I've already learned a ton of valuable info. It's become a daily visit.

Christopher Reach said...

Jon, thanks for taking the time to comment. The challenges have been a lot of fun, and its great seeing everyone's work and reading your take on it.