Learning How to Draw Animals

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When learning to draw animals, compare their bodies and skeletal structures to that of humans to better understand how differently they move and are constructed. Study diagrams of animal anatomy to better render the species with a demonstration from an experienced artist and art supply store employee in this free video on drawing.

Part of the Video Series: Drawing Lessons
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Video Transcript

Hi. I'm Laura Pace. I'm here at Asel Art Supply today. We're going to talk about how to draw animals. The first thing I decided to talk about today is how similar most mammals are to human beings in their skeletal forms. It really helps me to understand how animals move and how their skeletons work if I can make analogies between a human figure and an animal figure. So what I did is I drew this picture of a human form next to the form of a horse. And I drew some lines here to represent a simple drawing of the horse's skeleton as compared to the human skeleton. Let's make some comparisons between how the human being moves and how the horse moves. The human being supports his weight on his lower legs. His head is directly over the space between his feet. The horse isn't naturally going to walk around on two legs. It naturally walks on four legs. So the forepart of his body, its neck and his head, is extremely heavy and difficult for it to support on two legs for a sustained period of time. Some analogies we can draw between a human and a horse figure is the kind of joints they have. The human elbow is right here. Well, the horse's elbow is really right here. The horse's knee is here. And the horse's wrist is here. And this part that we call the hoof is really a toe. A horse is actually walking on one single toe on each foot and supporting all its great weight on that single toe. You can see on the hind leg here, this knee is analogous to the human knee. This is where the heel of the horse's hind leg is right here. Although, the heel of the human leg is much further down. And though, we support our weight on the whole of our foot, the heels and the toes usually, the horse is standing on its tiptoes, typically. For my next drawing, I fleshed out the horse by making some drawings of the volumes of the horse's body. I represented them as cylinders and other kind of truncated rectangular shapes to give me an idea of the volume of the form. So this very heavy head and skull is like a collection of big cylinders with some kind of flat round cheeks pasted onto the outside. The neck is two intersecting cone shapes here. The rib cage, which in a horse is very big to encase its big lungs, are kind of a very big rounded cylinder shape. The powerful hind quarters are another cylinder with this kind of flat flank shape glued onto the sides. The legs are cylindrical, also. Here's my final drawing of the horse's shape. Generally when you draw animals, you want to start with that skeletal outline, add volumes, and then add details at the last to give an idea of the animals skin and fur texture. So I added some features to this horse, like his nostrils, his large eyes, his forelock, his mane. You can see on this animal, sometimes the muscles and the bones will show through the animal's fur where he's very lean, or you can see parts where his bones may protrude through the skin, like in the lower legs. The hoofs have a different texture than the rest of his body, which is covered with fur. They have kind of a hard, shiny surface to them. And you can add more details to areas like the tail where you can draw in parallel lines to indicate hair. Today, I just drew a horse, but the principles are similar for drawing most mammals. I suggest you take some photographs or look at magazine photographs and make a lot of drawings on your own. Practice drawing animals, and it will come more easily to you.

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