Creating 'Curious Creatures'

Zhemin Wang's Playful Creative Process


Nov 1

Zhemin Wang’s body of work is a playful combination of dynamic animation and stylised graphic elements. For his collaboration with Dissrup, Zhemin adapted his ‘Curious Animals’ sticker series to the world of 3D, drawing inspiration from his original illustrations to bring new creatures into existence. The result: ‘Curious Creatures’, a collection of digital miscreants, and a call back to the early days of childhood, in which we’d play games, trade collectibles, and use the power of the imagination to create our own peculiar characters.

This editorial entry offers a glimpse into Zhemin’s creative process, including a few unused creature concepts, as well as behind the scenes imagery depicting the methods used to create and exhibit the Curious Creatures collection.

The video below offers a full overview of the process, and additional details can be found throughout the article.

The Forgotten Critters

Each of the Curious Creature collectibles was the result of extensive trial and error, and multiple iterations of many different designs. Recurring elements can be found across early characters, including: the slides worn by some of the bipedal creatures; recurring cartoonish eye motifs; and highly saturated colour palettes.

Below is a selection of friendly oddities that didn’t quite make the cut. Some became the inspiration for other creatures, and others have been put in the vault for future projects.

A selection of unused creature concepts.

Original Curious Creatures concept sketches by Zhemin (including a few familiar faces).

Creating the Creatures

Creating such a diverse range of characters required a strategic (yet exuberant) process of artistic experimentation. Utilising many different softwares, including Cinema4D, Houdini, Marvelous Designer and Adobe Illustrator, Zhemin was able to design, build, texture and animate each creature to convey ineffable qualities through visual language.

Vellum simulation experiment in Houdini. Each character was animated to reflect their imagined personality.

Test render and flat pattern lay for Rocky’s utility belt, created by Zhemin in Marvelous Designer.

Hezus (Dissrup's in-house 3D designer) testing out animation compositions and lighting arrangements in Cinema 4D.

The Vending Machine

Prior to the claw crane arcade concept that became the foundation of the Curious Creatures teaser trailers, the original plan was to exhibit the collection in an NFT vending machine—the entire collection of creatures would be displayed together as one big family.

However, the team felt that the closed environment of the vending machine might stifle the expressive personalities of the creatures, and this idea was eventually dropped in favour of an open world (the cloudy sky background seen across the drop interface) in which the creatures could 'roam' freely.

Vending machine concept render by Zhemin, including early versions of some of the final creatures.

Curious Creatures illustrates the fundamental role of experimentation in the artistic process. More often than not, successful creative practice is less about moments of artistic inspiration, and much more dependent on systematic processes of trial and error.

Explore the full Curious Creatures collection on the Dissrup Drops page, and you can discover more of Zhemin’s artwork via his Instagram account here.