Alpaca is a powerful tool for concept artists due to its ability to quickly and extensively explore various ideas. During a typical concept art process, many promising ideas are left unexplored due to time constraints. Alpaca, however, enables rapid exploration of numerous ideas, allowing for greater risk-taking while still ensuring a high-quality concept is delivered on time.

There are many different ways to integrate Alpaca in your process, our tools are made so they can be leveraged at any point in your process, be it for a simple touchup or for a full render. In this case, and for the sake of learning, we will use Alpaca all the way from silhouetting to final render.

First, let’s find a silhouette that we like. We can sketch down a few very simple silhouettes and use Alpaca to render them in more details. By setting Freedom to a medium value, we can draw a very simple silhouettes and let Alpaca be a bit creative to refine it.

AI rendering of a silhouette for character design

Tightening our silhouettes

Now that we have a few silhouettes we like, we can start to render them to get a few details to show up. We can render them in a single pass, or in multiple steps for more control

AI rendering of a silhouette for character design

Rendering silhouettes

The knight concept appears promising, so we will continue to explore this one. What would it look like if the knight had a sword and a metal helmet?

Let’s add those elements and have Alpaca render them.

Here, I used Photoshop to paint the sword and helmet, I could have used Alpaca, but it doesn’t yet have soft brush which I wanted to use here. Thankfully going back and forth between Photoshop and Alpaca is very easy, as we can simply copy/paste the canvas from one to the other with ctrl+c/ctrl+v on Windows or cmd+c/cmd+v on mac.

Drawing in details to our character

Adding in details to our character

Since we only want to render the helmet and sword without changing the rest of the image, we can use the Generation Mask tool. This tool allows us to highlight the area of the image we want to render, leaving the rest unmodified.

To use the Generation Mask tool, select it from the toolbar or simply press L. You can then highlight the area to render using the brush.

Generation Mask button
Drawing in details to our characterDrawing in details to our character

Rendering a specific area of our image with Generation Mask

So far, we have explored in a pretty straight line, refining a single idea more and more. Let’s see if we can spice things up a little bit by rendering some variations of our concept with different twists.

To do that we can set Freedom to a fairly high value, around 30 or 50. This tells Alpaca to not be overly concerned about respecting our current input precisely, leaving space for interesting things to emerge. We can set Change around 75 or so.

Now, we can reuse the same prompt we had earlier (knight with a sword, fantasy character, blank background) , but add a specific modifier we are interested in exploring in front of it.

Drawing in details to our character

Generating variations of our concept

This is nice, the dragon armor variation is pretty cool. But can we push this idea further? Alpaca has another functionallity that we haven’t yet leverage in this project: Style References .

With Style References we can use other images to guide the style of our renders.

Let’s see if we can use it to make our render a bit more fiery.

We are going to use the two following reference images (on Free and Standard plan you can only use a single reference image at a time, but that will still work just fine!)

Style reference for ai rendering 1Style reference for ai rendering 2

Style References

We will upload the images to the style references tool and set the reference strength to approximately ~20. A higher reference strength might reproduce some details from the reference image in the output, which we want to avoid in this case.

We will maintain a high value for Change (between 80 and 100) and afford some Freedom to Alpaca, allowing it to render new details like flames (around 20 or 30).

Using Style References in Alpaca

Using Style References in Alpaca

Here are a few examples of renders we get:

Using Style References in Alpaca

Using Style References in Alpaca

This is pretty nice. But we’re going to stick with one of our earlier prototypical knights and make a few more modifications to reach our final design. These will include giving our knight glowing eyes, giving them a larger broadsword, and adjusting the armor to be a bit spikier.

These changes can be easily made using the Generation Mask technique we’ve previously discussed.

Using generation mask in AlpacaUsing generation mask in Alpaca

Final iteration on our concept

And here is our final render

Final rendering

Final render