do you have any tips for learning to stylise animals? I have a habit of drawing them too realistically, and want to learn to style them more simple & effectively. Yours are awesome so I thought I'd ask the best :')
I took half an hour aside to hopefully make something which might help you (or might confuse you further) .
Alright, so you need to start thinking of animals as shapes, and not so much as animals. Here’s a bog-standard but ugly as ass pony for you.
You need to start seeing this pony as this. Mr Pons is showing his main shapes. His head is circles and connecting lines. Every part of him needs to be some sort of polygon which you can envision with your head.
All of those shapes can be pulled or pushed to make something new. I took our ugly ass Mr Pons and made him into some hunky warrior horse. So you’re wondering, what the hell Velle, how the heck did you get him there. Well, his shapes are still the same.
I just made them larger and pulled those lines out. Every straight line that connects the dots can be bent, every shape can be pulled, misshapen or distorted. You can also squash elements. As you can see, I moved his legs up, I gave him shorter limbs. Shorter and stockier can mean stronger which is what I was aiming for.
Alternatively we could pinch those lines in and make a pretty weak looking animal. I mean look, he has basically no ass. This is kind of where your foundations in anatomy start to play a major role, even though I pinched this animal a lot you can still look at it and think “That’s a horse.” His neck is still long, his withers are still prominent, it still holds himself with a good posture.
Anyway, moving on… I find the best way to get a good but unique sort of characterisation of a animal is to pull, push, bend and pinch. I will distort each part. This horse is a combination of strong characteristics, and weaker characteristics. He is pretty balanced, but he ended up as strong horse who might have some speed which his light limbs. I want a fellow like this one to pull me in a carriage as I drink Champagne or some fizz or something.
Another good way to characterise an animal is to exaggerate areas which stands out to you. So this is a quick sketch of my cat Winnie who is currently asleep next to me. She’s a pretty standard looking cat to most people.
Working on that image I made something which is more of a play on how I like to describe her to other people. When I describe her to other people I usually revert to, “She has large ears, chunky cheeks, kind of skinny with a saggy belly, long black tail and teeny white toes.” There we go, we have our aim. If look at that description and look at the image below you can see where I forced out those characteristics.
I quickly slopped some colours in for you guys because my cat is adorable ok.
Also being cruel to their image can make you draw a really good representation of them. Here’s my brothers pug bitch Frankie. As you can see, I was not kind at all in drawing her. I made her wall eye really obvious, squished her face since pugs are just a big squish, chunked her neck out since she has a shit tonne of skin there and gave her these long ass legs. Seriously, this dog has the longest legs I’ve ever seen on a pug. However taking how mean I was, it works in a representation of her. She is a just a big happy wrinkle with a lot of quirks.
Anyway, I hope this is helpful, if at all. It’s not an easy process to explain and I glossed over it, but yeah… Enjoy!