Un­der­stand­ing skele­tons

In part two of the se­ries on drawing an­i­mals, BRYNN METHENEY shows how get­ting a skele­ton’s gen­eral shape and ges­ture cor­rect will help with the pro­por­tions

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We warmed up last is­sue with our gen­eral to spe­cific an­i­mal drawing les­son. Now we can move into re­ally un­der­stand­ing the struc­tures and sys­tems un­der­neath an an­i­mal’s skin.

Skele­tons are the struc­tures that help keep us and all other an­i­mals to­gether. Ver­te­brate anatomy is cen­tred on the spine. From this struc­ture stems our scapula, our pelvis, our arms and our legs. The more we draw skele­tons of other ver­te­brate an­i­mals, the more we re­alise how sim­i­lar we are and how, re­ally, it’s just the pro­por­tions that are ex­ag­ger­ated be­tween species.

Us­ing a harder lead at first helps keep ini­tial skele­ton ges­tures light. This is im­por­tant. We want to only map out our ba­sic shapes and pos­ture. I’m con­stantly com­par­ing sizes and shapes. Some­times skulls are al­most as large as scapula. Fe­murs can be as long as rib cages.

As we begin to build our skele­ton, we use heav­ier pen­cil leads. HB will help us so­lid­ify the gen­eral line qual­ity and shapes and the B pen­cil will fi­nalise de­tails. Keep those pen­cils sharp and dull; va­ri­ety is good here.

Drawing the skele­ton from the ground up like this can help you quickly flesh it out to a point where it will be use­ful.

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