The A B C’s of animal structure

19 Mar

A B C's of animal structure

Currently, I’m stuck at page 5 of How To Drawing Animals by Jack Hamm.

I’m experiencing what Jack Hamm is hinting at, namely that you need to have a solid experience with the animal in question if you want to draw it believably. You need to know what impression its presence gave to you, not in words, but in images, as a mental picture of the animal.

There are strong similarities in the body plans of all four-legged animals, but there are also stark differences. You need to have intimate knowledge of the masses of each animal and how those mases move while the animal moves.

The method mentioned in this book is not a replacement for many hours of drawing the actual animal, by which I mean, having the animal in front of you, so you can experience its being. You can’t fake your way out of this one.

Even so, I’m trying to understand how to interpret photos, because I’m not able to visit zoos, farms, etc. at a regular basis. Most of this would be observing, not drawing, because you learn a lot by just looking, absorbing the look and feel of the animal, so you can reproduce that in your initial sketch. After this sketch, you can look at your reference for adjustments, but the basis for you drawing should be hours upon hours of observation.

Even so, I like the bear, although it’s totally based on (non-informed) imagination. I guess something stuck in this brain after more than 50 years of looking.

2 Responses to “The A B C’s of animal structure”

  1. gonzalexx March 19, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    I think that is evident in the way you draw cats. Since you are such a fan of cats, you see them daily, you can’t help but get to know their physique.
    An extreme example of what you just described from the book’s technique is the story of John James Audobon (I believe). The man was an avid bird hunter, once changed his ways to that of an artist, he married both things, and wrote/drew the book “Birds of America”. The curious thing was that he hunted each bird to then “dissect” it as he drew each one, but giving it life again in his drawings. Now, that’s an extreme approach to learning how to draw an animal. One I wouldn’t personally take. But you can’t deny that getting that close to an animal will give you intimate knowledge of its organic construction. I haven’t seen the book, but I’m sure it is an amazing piece of work. And of course, I don’t claim to know much about the Audubon society, etc, but I thought it relevant to your post.
    Thanks for sharing. It gives me a wider view of an approach to sketching.

    • Rene March 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

      Hey, it’s great that this helped you. I’m still stuck, but that’s fine. I’ll get “unstuck”, eventually.

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