Drawing animals in action
Posing animals is all about line of action and gesture, says Brynn Metheney. Don’t feel intimidated about getting everything right on your first go
Drawing believable poses and gestures comes from study and observation of animals in zoos and in the wild. Watching documentaries is a great way to get a glimpse of animal movement and behaviour.
Try to capture your pose in the wireframe skeleton first, and indicate the joints and the pelvis and shoulders. Think about how the legs support the whole body of the animal and where the spine lies in between the back and front legs.
Because I’m drawing and not taking a photo, I need to exaggerate those poses slightly to make them feel alive. You’ll notice that if you draw, piece for piece, a photograph of an animal then it can look a little stiff. But if you round out that leg more or push the angle of the shoulder, you’ll add life to your drawing. Such an approach is common among animators.
As you draw, keep your arm loose. It’s a good idea to not only think like an animator, but to move like one. Draw with your whole arm and try not to work only from your wrist. Sometimes this means repositioning your hand that’s holding your pencil or standing up to draw. Finally, when posing animals, consider acting out the pose. If the animal is stretching or standing alert, acting out those attitudes can help inform your drawing.