Drawing anthros isn’t easy. Not only should the artist be able to draw the human figure, he or she must also be proficient at drawing different animal species. If you have been practicing the material from the previous chapters, this should be much easier:
Here’s a comparison between a generic four-legged animal, and a human standing on his toes and fingertips. The bone structure is almost the same. The muscle groups are also very similar, so we will use the same color codes as in the chapter about human anatomy.
Once you can draw the members of the canine family, you’ve got 70% of the fandom covered already. Here we will look at the family in general, and the characteristic differences between wolves, foxes, and a few domestic dogs.
We’ll show the canine body in somewhat more detail than the other species. The idea is that all quadrupeds have the same body structure, and we’ll just have to highlight the differences for felines and equines.
I’m going to base the head off a ball, just like the one you saw in the first chapter. To indicate the muzzle, I also hotglue a box shape to it. Well not really a box, more a clipped pyramid. A dog’s muzzle is wider near the back than at the front, so it’s a better fit.
This is a pretty generic dog head, good for huskies and such. For other breeds, you’ll have to make a couple of changes. The chihuahua will have a much smaller wedge for the muzzle, while a dachshund is best drawn with a big wedge shape that models almost the whole head.
Paws and Hind Legs
On the left we see the underside of a front paw. There are four cushiony pads at the toes (the digital pads), a larger one underneath the knuckles (the metacarpal pad), and a tiny one near the wrist (the carpal pad). There are four claws at the front, and a dewclaw at the end of the thumb. Note that the claws are not at the center of the toes, but on the inside. The two in the middle are very close together.
The illustration next to it shows the bones of the front leg. The dog is standing up, so the toes are bent at nearly 90 degrees. On the right, there’s a life drawing of the front leg of a sleeping dog; the toes are more relaxed and straightened out. Notice how the joints and muscles correspond to all kinds of bumps and curves, both in the contour and the shading. If you have the opportunity to study an actual dog, make good use of it! It is easier to see the structure of its legs in real life than on photos.
Remember the figure at the start of this chapter? Let’s zoom in on a dog’s paw and a human hand, so you can see the similarities.
A dog’s hind paws are almost the same as the front ones. The main difference is that there’s no dew claw, or carpal pad. The new challenge here, especially for the artists who like to draw their characters digitigrade, is the hock.
Here you can see the five paw pads, and a few more studies of hind legs. Again, the light and shadow areas are formed by the underlying anatomy. See if you can find the Achilles tendon, the ankle, and the outer metatarsal.
This family of agile hunters is arguably even more diverse than the canidae; from the purring little apex predator on your lap to the intimidating Siberian tiger, they come in a wide range of face markings, fur patterns, and accessories such as ear tufts or manes. We’ll concentrate on the domestic cat first, and then take a look at some of his bigger cousins.
Cats have a smaller, rounder muzzle than dogs.
Horses are very muscular animals with relatively thin fur, so their anatomy is more noticeable than in dogs and cats.
The head can be drawn using a box with one side sliced off diagonally. The eye sockets stick out a bit, so I usually draw a kite on top of this box to place the eyes.
The biggest difference between the skeletons we have seen so far and the horse skeleton is the hooves. What would be the third metacarpal in our hand (the bone from the wrist to the knuckle of the middle finger) is called the cannon bone in a horse. The second and fourth metacarpals (the splint bones) are still there, but they’re tiny. You can still spot them as small bumps near the wrist. The first and fifth metacarpals have disappeared. The “middle finger” starts at the fetlock, and the fingertip is encased in a hoof.
The bone structure in a bird’s wing is very similar to the arm and the hand of a human. If you are drawing wings, pay attention to where the shoulder, the elbow, and the wrist go.
This figure also shows how the large flight feathers connect to the bones. The elbow joint might not always be clearly visible. In that case there is some skin stretching from the wrist to the shoulder smoothing out the contours.
NOTE: I have found several contradicting sources for the next few paragraphs. Information could be incorrect.
The feathers are shown in the following figure. This is a picture showing the top of a wing.
The primary feathers are the ones connected to the “hand”, while the secondaries are connected to the “forearm”. Both sets of feathers also have a layer of coverts on top of them, followed by another layer of marginal coverts. On the inside of the wing, there are the scapular feathers, sometimes also called the tertiaries.
A wing as seen from the bottom will show the same structure, but with somewhat shorter coverts. A complete list of all bird species and the particular wing shapes and feather sizes is far beyond the scope of this tutorial. But if you’d like to model your wings after a particular kind of bird, all you have to do is take a look at some photos, and identify the different feather groups. Once you know the structure of a wing, it is much easier to draw all the varieties.
This side of the wing also has some feathers called the alula, which are connected to the “thumb”. These feathers are not visible from the bottom.
In the following examples of wings, the groups of feathers are colored in the same way as in figure above. The bone structure is indicated with a blue line.