My First Character Design Challenge!!

I thought about participating a few months ago, but kept putting it off, thus missing the deadlines. HOWEVER! I couldn’t miss this one. I mean, it’s my birth month AND the theme is mermaids. MERMAIDS!! 


Mermaids Lead to Manta Rays

So…I’ve learned quite a few things upon researching this character design….

  1. Mermaids apparently swim with Manta Rays
  2. I’m not kidding.
  3. It’s an actual profession; Just ask shark conservationist, Hannah Fraser 
  4. Some of the biggest creatures on our planet seem to always be the shy ones (e.g. Manta Rays)
  5. These Giant “Devil Rays” are super chill.
  6. Mantas are very smart apparently; I imagine they have the brain of a dolphin, the body of a shark and are  half the size of a whale. All video speculation, of course.
  7. I’ve yet to have the miraculous experience of diving with one annnd it sounds like I have a new bucketlist item.
  8. Looks like I’m boarding the manta train!

What Happens When Assignments Lead to Obsessions

I discarded my flying fish mermaid and went in the OTHER direction. I knew I wanted my character to be male. I didn’t, however, want him to have a dolphin or shark tail. I felt like those were kinda standard. So, instead I chose the manta…tail?


Designing this concept was in some parts hard and easy but let me back track.

This competition doesn’t really offer anything typical in the end. No trophy. No money prize. No year’s worth of DeviantArt Core Membership status. It’s just pure enjoyment. And for me a chance to challenge myself.

Why not?



In comes the first challenge. Coloring. Manta Rays have their own finger prints. Terrific! Well spots, so to speak. You can tell one apart from another if you know what markings to look for. I plan to color my hybrid white initially, but black mantas are more common; they’re also harder to color. So I settle on a bit of both: white belly with black wings.


Challenge two. Making him LOOK like a manta. The streamlined body of a mermaid I wanted to keep, but I didn’t want to make his wing span be an accessory with all attention solely on his body. I figured that perhaps I can color him in such a way that engages the viewer. His torso will be the first noticeable thing but viewers have to look around the rest of his body to figure out what he is. I hope I achieved this somewhat. Even if a little bit. I wanted to make him appear to fade into his own body upon first look, but then, after further inspection, all his other little details start to come into focus.


Oh! I forgot number 9 on my list. Sucker fish? Mantas and these small fry are BUDDIES. Researching these creatures is interesting, because they are so strange looking. Most of them have disks on their head, allowing them to literally catch a ride whenever the next big thing swims along. The funny thing is I’ve heard of these fish many times but never really made the connection. As one who grew up in a port city, basically, this is something seen often. I just never knew HOW these fish kept up with fast ships so well. Now I know.


Naturally this presented challenge three. How do I make these strange-looking super-sized minnows look…cute? Since manta rays are HUGE, I wanted to add a little something to convey my character’s colossal size without overdoing it. Competition rules stated that complicated backgrounds and bust illustrations are out of the question. The Character Design Challenge specified the key word “design.” I had to make sure everything I did about the design highlighted my character. Basically the competition has a “ONE CHARACTER POLICY.” So, I settled for tiny mermaid clowns. Instead of sucker fish, I drew hugging fish with their cheeks being sucking disks allowing them a ride from anything they hug. I think I had the most fun coloring them. Their fins were a workout though!


This took quite some time to say the least. Hopefully I didn’t overdo it lol


Character Design Challenge (website)

**COA's, Disclaimers and ETC's**

All mentioned content is purely for entertainment/informative purposes. All links provided for each respective topic are of sites I find trustworthy (a.k.a. safe to browse) with any following content the property of those admins. Any unexpected roads to elsewhere are at the discretion of your own browser/internet provider’s security settings …annnd hopefully a good firewall.

Please pardon me if I am not too accurate with the subjects I post about. I do try my best to stay current and not generalize. Constructive criticism and “Grammar Nazis” are welcome (especially about my artwork ^_^), but no flames …[pretty] PLEASE? If you have anything to add, correct or would like to share any cool topics you’d like me to draw for, feel free to click on the links towards the bottom of each page, or drop me a message here!

Thank you!

~ PennyDoth


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