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Submitted on
September 3, 2012


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The Handy Resources Journal

Journal Entry: Mon Sep 3, 2012, 8:36 AM
This journal will be a collection of images, articles, and guides that I've found handy for drawing. I hope you find them useful, too.

Please note that this journal is a work in progress. I will add to it when I can and edit where needed.

Jeff-H has created a series of excellent guides for human anatomy. I recommend studying them.
Leg Anatomy Tutorial (Version 2) by Jeff-HArm Anatomy Tutorial by Jeff-HFemale Figure Tutorial by Jeff-HBasic Hand Tutorial by Jeff-HBasic Expression Tutorial by Jeff-H

The best piece of artistic advice I've been given when proportioning a human figure is this: The thigh area (from hip [not waist] to knee) is approximately the same length as the torso (hip to shoulder). I see so many humans drawn too short or too tall without the torso to match.

See how short the legs are?…

Still don't believe me? Bring your knee up to your shoulder and try to keep your back as straight as possible. It should reach about to your collarbone.

Dog (dog anatomy is the basis of most of my creatures, due to its versatility.)
I see a huge number of artists (even very advanced ones who really should know better) completely screw up the proportioning and joints of canine legs and feet.
I see creatures with just a bend where the knee should be, knees and ankles all over the place, different sized bones (I still do this sometimes. I'm working on it.)

Take this old creature of mine, for example.
VIII by Pythosblaze

For starters, the legs are too long. The femur is almost twice as long as the tibia, while really it should be about the same length. The area from heel to foot also differs from leg to leg. Obviously that doesn't work. Lastly, and probably least noticeably in this one, I had no idea where the pelvis was.

The pelvis of a quadruped is not like that of a human. It's elongated and the femurs connect pretty far down from where you might think.……

I see a lot of creatures with "shoulder bumps" on the hips. While some animals (such as cows) appear to have these, they really just have a wider pelvis. Their legs are still connected where the dog's legs are…

ANTHROS: I hate furries. My biggest reason? Not the fucked up fetishes (though those certainly contribute). It's the fact that most furry artists seem to be completely incapable of putting together a decent anthro. And then use the excuse that "they don't have to know the anatomy because it's not a real animal". I don't care how cartoony your anthro/furry is, there are some basics you should try to stick to.

Note here that I'm talking about anthros with digitigrade legs. Some of them really are just an animal head stuck on a human body, with some weird feet-paws on the ends of their plantigrade legs.

The first thing is WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION. Putting a human body on top of digitigrade legs is tough. And to be honest, it probably wouldn't work terribly well in real life. But there are a few things an artist can do to make it believable. Most importantly, position the feet so that they support the center of gravity. Just look at any bipedal animal (including yourself) to see what I mean.

Here is a secretary bird… . See how the heaviest part of the bird (the flight muscles) is right over the feet?

Here is a bear standing on its hind legs… . Even though this is a quadruped, it positions its center of mass over its feet.

Here is a meerkat… . Again, same thing.

Are we seeing a pattern?

Here's a good comparison of a human leg versus an anthro leg. Note that the center of gravity (the core of the body) is positioned above the feet.
Wolf Anthro Leg Muscle Study by RussellTuller

There are a few anthro artists on dA who really know what they're doing. I recommend studying up.
:icongoldenwolf: is among the best. She combines human and canine anatomy seamlessly, rather than slapping a wolf's legs and face on a human body.
Sacred Waters by Goldenwolf My Definitions by Goldenwolf

Here are some other well-built anthros:
Werewolf by chipsetWerewolf Anatomy by sugarpoultry

The most important things to note when drawing any flying creature are MASS, FLIGHT SURFACES, and FLIGHT MUSCLE. This is something that most people (myself included) struggle with. If your creature is too bulky, even very large, powerful wings will struggle to get it off the ground.

Mass: Everyone knows birds' bones are hollow. And everyone knows that's to make them lighter so they can fly. So just say Deathwing here… has hollow bones and problem solved, right? Not quite. Look at a bird's muscle structure… and note how conservative it is with its mass. It of course isn't covered in scales, but everything it doesn't need for flight is pretty thin, in both the bone and muscle department.

Unfortunately, mass is the reason dragons would really never work. We cover them in scales and give them powerful dinosaur legs and muscular necks and tails. Even with hollow bones, a horse-sized dragon would weigh around 500lbs. It would need a helium or hydrogen-filled sac in order to balance its weight enough to fly.

Flight surfaces: This is another mistake I see a lot on dragons. Take the dragons from Skyrim:… . While overall their design works pretty well, they'd never be able to achieve flight. The bone structure works, but between their "pinky" digit and the hip, there is next to no membrane. This part of the membrane is pretty crucial to achieving flight. Not having that is like removing a bird's Secondaries…

Look at a bat.…
See how wide that part of the wing is? While most dragons aren't going to have the membrane all the way down to the ankle, it should still be wide enough to collect a large amount of air.

Muscle: Look how much of a bird's body is devoted to the pectoral muscle… . This is because that muscle is what pulls the wing down to provide lift. A bird may not weigh much, but just you try propelling yourself skyward with even very large wings.

Another thing to note here is the structure of the back. A flying creature needs a pretty rigid spine in order to anchor all those muscles and stay aloft. While this really sucks for those of us who like our dynamic poses (ahem), think how much a flexible spine would destabilize flight.

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XY-axis Sep 4, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for that Pythos ;)
ResoundingMovement Sep 3, 2012  Student Digital Artist
This is extremely helpful! Thank you so much for posting this! I being 19, have only begun to really pay attention to anatomy for about 3 to 5 years now, and I am always looking for ways to improve and better capture a animal/creatures anatomy. Thank you again!
KatePfeilschiefter Sep 3, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Haha, you touch on all the anatomy issues that bug me in critters. Skyrim's dragons especially. Ugh
Aphose Sep 3, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
One of my biggest pet peeves is dragon wings that connect back right next to the shoulder. IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY!!1 :iconallcapsrageplz:
Pythosblaze Sep 3, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Sorry this is a mess. I'm just putting it together right now.
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