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Drawing animals

If you want to know the different techniques to draw animals you should first concentrate on one species only and then find out the differences with the other ones. It’s accurate to say that all vertebrates have a lot in common. They all have a spine. Sometimes, it holds them upright and internally like  for the humans but it can also be horizontal like for a snake and it could even be a shell like in a turtle. Once you understand the principle you can apply it to all kinds of different vertebrates.

THE HORSE
The animal that has been drawn the most has always been the horse. Being a symbol of animal beauty and one of the most loved animals, drawers and painters have always considered the horse as their favorite subject after humans, among the living creatures.

The most important proportion to know is this one: You can draw a square (Fig 1) that reaches the  base of the neck to the beginning of the tail and then goes down to the hind foot, then left to the forefoot and finally up to the neck. The shoulder is perfectly located above the front toe. The quarters right above the point of the hock. Notice that the back of the square is lined up with the long tendon  going from hock to fetlock.

Fig 1

The line E, F, following the neck, represents the half of the line A,B. Its angle depends on where the head is carried.
The distance between the poll and the muzzle represents a third of the distance between the poll and the root of the tail.
The eye is located at about a third of the distance between the poll and the muzzle.
On the adult horse, the distance between the crown of the withers and the point of the elbow is the same as the distance from the elbow to the fetlock.

As in any type of drawing that involves living things, having a good knowledge of anatomy brings a tremendous help. You might have noticed that an animal will not necessarily stay still as you’re trying to sketch him. A certain amount of reconstruction will then be needed and your knowledge of anatomy will allow you to finish your drawing with precision.

It is important to realize that the skeleton of a horse is built with the same principles as those in the human skeleton. The legs, of course, are stretched in a different way. It is quite interesting to notice that the bottom part of the horse’s leg, made of a single toe, is much more elongated than in the human leg when the top part of the leg is almost hidden inside the body of the horse. You will also notice that the names of the bones are almost the same as in the human skeleton.

A few common mistakes:
The eye should have an angle of 45 degrees with the line of the face instead of being parallel to the line of the face.
The hock  should  be lined up with the back of the croup. The croup should always be round and full when the shoulder should be bony and straight.
The forelegs as well as the hind legs should be parallel and straight. All four hooves should be placed a little forward and should be shorter in the back than in the front.

Fig 2

Fig 3

Fig 4

Fig 5

Fig 6

Fig 7

Fig 8

Fig 2 and 4 show how the forelegs and the hind legs are parallel two by two. Fig 3 shows how the head slowly narrows down from the poll to the muzzle.  Fig 5 shows the position of the neck reaching down to the ground in order to eat. Notice the beautiful curve…
It’s commonly accepted to say that the horse only has one foot off the ground at a time when he walks, two when he trots, three when he canters and all four when he gallops. Fig 6 shows a galloping horse. Fig 8 shows a horse who is starting to trot after walking and Fig 7 shows a jumping horse with his neck lined up with the back.

Horses have been considered as a classical and mandatory model for drawers all along the history of man from the cavemen until now. It’s a beautiful animal who deserves our admiration and artistic interest.