Wandering around the park and listening to the ambient noises, experiencing the heat, looking at the flora and fauna, and looking and learning about the animals all helped to picture what a real rainforest is like, and to develop my basic understanding of them. There were also sections of the park for desert environments, nocturnal animals and underwater life, which although aren't directly relevant so I haven't included the photos here, were a fun opportunity to experience and study a wide range of wildlife.
I only had my phone camera with me and couldn't take any decent photos, but I managed to get a few of the general wildlife as inspiration and reference for textures and forms. I also photographed some of the information boards of animals I found particularly interesting so that I could research them once I got home.
Through my research at home I looked at a whole range of animals - I won't create moodboards for all of them here! One that I discovered that particularly like is the marmoset, especially the Wied's marmoset, pictured below (there's also a Tamarin monkey). I just find something about their look very intriguing and intelligent. Although I'd been considering basing my race on reptilian creatures, I'm now interested in pursuing something along this route, or somehow combining the two. I will sketch out ideas in another post.
Here's some small sketches I did of animals using images from online. The purpose of this was just to try and get used to drawing non-human shapes so I can hopefully stop myself from falling into my usual habits of drawing human-like faces. I plan to do some more of these for body type as well, as that is obviously a major part of the design, and if I want to move away from drawing human bodies I'll need to practice and develop my understanding of other types.