Drawing Critters

How to get the anatomy right even when you’re being weird

A while back, I went on a thing of drawing mechanical creatures. One of them was a grasshopper. Even though I made it out of clockwork and things, I wanted the physical characteristics to be correct. If I’d drawn this from memory, I would’ve made the legs come out of all the wrong places. I had no idea all the legs, even the big jumpy ones, came out of basically the same location.

So it’s important to look at the anatomy. Take this stylish giraffe:

I developed the giraffe’s pose first, from real life, before adding the footwear. Because it was important that they look like a model, actually strutting around. That’s maximum fabulousness.

Here’s another intersection between critter and – well – theater:

Bardigrade

Again, I had to look at a ton of tardigrades to get this pose, and figure out how to give the fellow drama and action without making it look – um – unnatural?

So, when you go to draw creatures, and adapt them into characters, here are some tips:

  1. Start with nature. Look at lots of images, look at how they move, where their parts really are, how big they are, what their habitat is like.
  2. Try a few poses, see what looks believable. Believability is important even in the craziest scenarios.
  3. Think of the creature as a friend, for whom you want to do justice. Give em some love.
  4. If you’re having trouble with some aspect, go draw a different pose or look at some more reference. Chances are your brain and drawing hand need some more information.

There are so many wondrous physical setups out there to draw! It’s just fabulous. I love drawing them all.