Digital Artist

Learn to create Asian-inspired demons

Tips & Tutorials
April Madden

Create authentic demons by sourcing ideas from traditional and modern mythology

Turn to ancient stories and myths the next time you want inspiration for your characters. To get you started, we have three demons here, all inspired by Asian tales.


The monster cat

This old tom has lived so long his tail has begun to split. Now he can shape shift into human form, create zombies by leaping over corpses and knock everything off the shelf by flying. Known as the bakeneko, he has become a demon cat. Choose the Soft Bristle Watercolor tool and paint lots of finely hatched lines to portray fur, but focus on the sinuous curves that grace the feline form. Hold down the Shift key for perfect horizontal and vertical lines for the lantern – he doesn’t need one as he glows in the dark, but he likes to drink the lamp oil. Block in the cream, green, purple and red under the inks, and use a Multiply layer for the shadows again.

The lantern spook

When in Japan, don’t let objects sit around for over a hundred years or they might become possessed. The chochinobake is a spirit that haunts a paper lantern. Ink this ghoul with finer lines than the other monsters. Block in the flats and shadows as before and use the shadows in the creases of the paper to give depth to his head. That juicy eye is inspired by the artwork of the videogame Okami and is painted with the Soft Airbrush tool, as is the tongue. The blood is actually paint that has run and the eyeball hairs are merely shredded paper.


Nine-tailed fox

This villainous kitsune-tsuke is very old and powerful, as evinced by her nine long tails. She is inked over a sketch with the Scratchboard Rake tool on a new layer set to Multiply. Hundreds of little lines simulate the look of stylised fur seen in old Japanese artwork. Create a new layer beneath the ink and paint with dull cream for the shadow layer. Duplicate the layer, lock its transparency and Flood Fill with a lighter cream. Set it to Overlay and use the Eraser tool to carve out shadows on the body and tails. Create a new layer and paint those fun red markings.