Tips on "getting the right weight", muscle definition on animal drawings (part 1)
tutorial suggestion- how to give a living thing the right “weight”- to make it look not flat/to show muscles properly, that sort of thing
Ok I’m going to do a different thing with this weeks tutorial. To answer specifically to this tutorial request I can’t pull off one of my regular ones. Otherwise it will be text text text and very few images. This one will be more “notes” and “tips” on the subject, because it is a vast subject.
One of the common mistakes when people are in the very beginning in terms of drawing something (wolf, dog, horse, snake) is that the basic structure is not studied
. People jump right into the detailing part. In the end the result will be an extremely detailed pictured of an anatomically incorrect animal.
How to overcome this - well, you need to build your skills from the inside out - study the basic parts of the skeleton of an animal, then add the muscles, and only then will you worry about fur texture, feathers or scales. Until the first part is not correctly understood, you will risk spending hours on a highly detailed picture that in the end will always look wrong because the structure didn’t come out right.
So, understand the basic structure of different groups of animals - fishes, birds, marine mammals, four legged mammals, lizards, snakes, primates, marsupials, etc. Whatever you need to draw, go and look for the basic structure of it.
So do I need to know every single skeleton structure there is in order to start to draw?
No, of course not. Once you understood how the skeleton of a dog is, you can loosely apply that basic structure to wolves, foxes, cats, and even other four legged animals, but always taking into consideration the need to make a few tweaks in order to make it believable. Or once you’ve figured out the structure of a dolphin’s skeleton it is easier to understand how it works with wales.
No you don’t need to draw every single bone in the skeleton. Actually you don’t have to draw the skeleton. Just lines showing the structure. Like this bellow
This helps you understand where the limbs, tail, thorax, neck and head go, how they work as a whole structure. Also it clears your mind from useless information like fur, texture, eyes, nose, mouse, etc. Yes it is useless information if your main goal here is to figure out the weight.
It also helps you understand where the center of gravity is located and keep the drawing in balance and with the right weight.
Only then you start working on the muscle part. AGAIN - stare at anatomic images - for example this one bellow. Then you figure out the basic muscles and you can apply in similar animals what you learned only with one.
After getting the whole idea of how the muscles look like, then apply the “meat” to the structures previeously sketched
Then, once feel comfortable enough, you can go and sketch different animals using photo or life references. For this stage, in the beggining , I highly recommend you giving a shot with animals that have VERY SHORT hair. Like lions, horses, rottweilers, etc. Because the fur is so short, its almost as if you can see their muscles right beneath the skin and there are no distractions caused by thick coats of fur. When you feel comfortable enough with this, then go and give a shot at other animals.
OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS:
- When doing these exercises, draw a perfectly horizontal line representing the ground. It is easier to practice the weight distribution/gravity center.
- Once you have tackled this issue, start working on small parts for practice, like eyes, nose, paws, etc.
- When in doubt, go and check “specify the animal” anatomy. For example - Doplphin anatomy. Google will get you some good references.
I guess I covered the basics on this. The part to make it look not flat will covered next week because it involves shading.