March 31, 2012

This week: Bullseye!

Podcasts are a staple for many cartoonists, whether as a free source of quality media for people who can't pay for cable, or as something to listen to while working. They've also become culturally important. I'd wager that if I made reference to an episode of Savage Love, This American Life, or Radiolab it wouldn't go over too many of your heads. For those of you who do listen to these podcasts, they're likely more than just entertainment for you. You've probably gleaned some real philosophy and life lessons from their content, or heard things that inspired you creatively. Well, for years now the family of podcasts created by Jesse Thorn for have been one of the most important cultural parts of my life, perhaps none moreso than Jesse's podcast formerly known as The Sound of Young America, now known as Bullseye.

Since he was 19 at UC Santa Cruz, Jesse has been doing some of THE best interviews I have ever heard in my life. First of all, he interviews people I find interesting- artists, musicians, authors, comics, directors, and yes, cartoonists from time to time. But most important is the kinds of questions he asks and the answers those questions get. Jesse was the first person I have ever heard, in my life, give a non-retarded interview with a rapper. You wouldn't think it to look at him, but Jesse is a walking encyclopedia of rap and hip hop, both musically and historically. So whereas most interviewers would ask something ignorant and wearying like "So your lyrics are really violent. Why is that?" and get a dumb, tired answer like "Yo we jus keepin it real, nowwadimean?", Jesse will be like "When listening to the fifth track of your debut album I couldn't help but be reminded of a Philedelphia based funk group I like, and as it turns out I read that you actually lived in Philly with your aunt for two years when they were playing, and I was wondering if there was any connection there?", to which the rapper would then reply with an extremely interesting story about their family life at the time, what the underground Philly funk scene meant to them as a young man, and what about it influenced them musically.

Jesse asks extremely perceptive, well researched questions about the art people make and how their lives, and the art around them, shaped their art. He likes especially to talk about how and why creators mature, both artistically and as people. Everyone he interviews acts like they've waited their whole lives to be asked questions like this. God knows I'd waited my whole life for someone to ASK questions like this.

All ten years of the show are available, online, for free. The archives are searchable. All the new shows are free, you only need subscribe. Ten years of interviews with the best creators of our time, probably the best interviews they ever gave, free.

And that isn't even to mention all the great comedy podcasts Jesse and his team put out, including Jordan, Jesse, Go!, Judge John Hodgman, and more. Every week I get about 3 hours of new, high quality media, free. And did I mention that it's all made in Jesse's living room? And that it's all paid for by donors?

I am one of those donors, and since this week Jesse is in the second week of his annual pledge drive, I'd like to make you all into donors too.

Here are the episodes he's done with cartoonists, that I can remember:

Kate Beaton
Charles Burns
Roz Chast
Steve Wolfhard
Gahan Wilson
Ariel Schrag
Tony Millionaire
Dan Clowes

Give them a listen. And if this show seems worth it to you, if you like it enough to subscribe to it, then please do the right thing and become a donor. You can give as little as two bucks a month, though there are gifts with higher pledge levels. The money goes straight to making shows. They're not NPR produced so there isn't even THAT middleman. I will send a hand written thank you note to any Comic Tools readers who become donors, and I will do a sketch on it if you become a donor over the ten dollar a month level. But really, after listening to these, you'll want to thank me. And Jesse, of course.

March 28, 2012

Does anyone have a Caran D'ache Fixpencil 3mm lead holder and/or Grafitti Pin Head 3mm lead holder they'd be willing to sell/donate?

March 25, 2012

This week: The perfect pen?

Sarah Glidden says this may be the perfect pen. From her review:
"Well, the search is over. I found the perfect pen. Let me rhapsodize about the Carbon Desk Fountain Pen. I will need no other pen now. Its waterproof, has a fine line, the ink flows perfectly, and it only explodes and gets ink all over my fingers every once in a while."
Additionally, from her facebook post about it:
"...and I did not mention that I found this pen by describing my perfect pen to the guy who works in the pen and ink section of Senellier, the greatest art store in the world, and that, with a twinkle in his eye, he held up the pen and said 'this is what you are looking for.' I took the pen and tried it out on a scrap of paper, mesmerized by the lyricisim of its line. 'Yes, this is exactly what I was looking for!' I exclaimed. I turned around, smiling, to thank him, but there was no one there. 'Maybe it was all a dream," said the pen.'"
I haven't bought and tested the pen yet, but Sarah draws on the go all the time, hopping country to country and drawing prolifically. She's field tested the thing better than I ever would for a review. Waterproof fountain pens aren't just hard to come by, they essentially don't exist. The Japanese were the first to develop pigmented ink ground to finely it wouldn't clog a brush pen, which is why all good brush pens with waterproof fade proof ink are from Japan, and I presume that technology has something to do with the ink in this pen. You canNOT just go shoving regular drawing ink into a fountain pen. Years ago I used a cheap ass, old broken plastic fountain pen for lettering, that I modified to (sort of) allow it to use brush pen cartridges with minimal clogging. It was one of my favorite tools. It did eventually clog, though, and that was that. I wonder if this tool would fit that role? I currently use pointed sticks for lettering, as some of you may recall.

This is a great interview with long time super friend of Comic Tools Brian Lee O'Malley. He's asked how be broke into the business, and he lays out the events of his career from it's very beginning to show that he did not "break into" the biz, but just like everyone else, he built up a body of work over a period of lean, agonizing years, until finally a combination of whim and luck blew a part of the enormous ember he'd created into flame.
"In late 2008 and into 2009 I actually made money off of comics - see, each book comes out and people talk about it and some people heard about it for the first time so they go buy the first book, then if they like it they have to buy the other books. Doing a series adds up over time, if you can keep it up and stay semi-popular. ... There is no advice here, there’s no “breaking in” tips, that’s just how it happened for me. A little bit of talent, a lot of perseverance and hard work, a lot of luck."

In reference to last week's post, boy did this artist ever get the bow form right! And look how badass it looks!

By the way, if you're the sort of person who wastes your employer's time by surfing the web at work and you're mad that I posted an image above that might not be appropriate for the environment where you shouldn't be web surfing in the first place, you should take a look at this post by Warren Ellis, which perfectly captures how I feel about the matter.
Hi new people!

For any regulars who didn't see my facebook post or tweet about it, Heidi at The Beat wrote a post about last week's entry, specifically in regard to the articles by Jim MacQuerrie I posted last week regarding three current cinematic archers. (By the way, it turns out Jim is also a cartoonist. Here's his site.) I'd like to welcome the new readers and fill you in on what this blog is.

Comic Tools blog is a resource, first and foremost. The blog was started by writer/cartoonist MK Reed (who just put up a new chapter of her comic About a Bull, based on Celtic legend, go see.) Comic Tools blog began as an interview blog. MK is a very social person, very amiable, and much more developed in her writing than her art, though I rather like her drawings myself. She decided that the way she'd find out about drawing tools and techniques was to ask people whose work he liked, and she figured as long as she was educating herself she'd educate the world while she was at it, so she made a blog of it. Here's an old post by MK, surveying Hope Larson, a longtime good friend of this blog.

Eventually for various reasons MK couldn't work on the blog anymore. By this time I was an ardent Comic Tools fan. Mk had started branching out from the rigid survey interview into posts about tools. I LOVE process and craft stuff, it's sort of my thing. MK had even linked to a few posts from my personal blog. When MK decided her time at Comic Tools was at an end she asked if I wanted to keep it going. I said yes absolutely.

For awhile I hewed pretty close to the format MK had established, interviews and tool info interspersed with illustrative pictures and links to interesting articles or websites.As I became more comfortable as this blog being my thing I started doing tutorials. I love tutorials. I can't decide whether I like reading or making them more, but goddamn do I love the passing on of hand skills with illustrated text. Some were strictly about physical tools, like how to use ruling pens, or brush care, or how to keep your white out from ever drying out. I built the camera mask, which allows me to take POV photos of both of my hands at the same time, so when readers go to replicate a technique it looks to them just like it did in the pictures.

Other posts used a more expanded definition of tools, to include not just physical tools, but mental tools. Little bits of craft that can be implemented immediately with little or no practice, which will instantly improve someone's art, regardless of their style or level of ability. This post on Balloon shape is one of my favorites.

I was working on a major book project at the time that required me to really beef up my ability to render somewhat naturalistic figures, and I found that when I went looking for good anatomy resources for comic drawing, there basically were none. Human anatomy texts basically tell you "Here is a box. Here is a picture of every muscle, vein, and ligament in the body. And here is a useless visual metaphor for how some parts move by George Bridgman. Now just draw the box and then fill in perfect anatomy." The very best human anatomy resources for artists, the guides by Andrew Loomis, still basically say "Here's some basic shapes, now just lay perfect anatomy over them." That's when I did the anatomy posts, which I'm most proud of of anything I've done here. I am the first person, to my knowledge, to create a system for drafting or checking anatomy for comic drawing. My basic shapes can be used with no further additions to position and correctly proportion any humanoid character, no matter how cartoonish. If you take them a step further, merely by adding a few dots and connecting some lines, you have a good enough skeleton to check really basic non-realistic anatomy on, especially helpful with weird poses or characters you can't quite draw on model yet. Finally, because all of the basic shapes are based on real skeletal features and not boxes approximating body masses, you can hang muscles off them, with as much or as little realism as you like, very easily.

Those posts, and the tool posts, started to bring in a pretty big readership, enough that I had a brain pool to draw from. I could ask my readers, which include many professionals, for help with topics they knew that I didn't, and in comments readers will chime in with incredibly useful information, which I'll then post. Readers have done whole posts for the blog, in fact, even photo tutorials.

I'm the current author of Comic Tools blog, but what this really is is a centralized, free, one stop resource for information about making comics, most especially the sort of information I don't see available anywhere else. I hate how difficult it can be to find basic craft information about comics, even in colleges. Again and again it's like artists have to learn from scratch. How would it be if science were that way, for goodness sake? The goal of this blog is, and will continue to be, a one stop resource for knowledge about the craft of making comics, drawing from an enormous brain trust of artists we've interviewed, readers who are most of them working professionals, and every post, article, and book I can lay my hands on. When someone is just starting with brushes and has no idea how to use them, or wonders what a lettering nib is, or wonders what Jim Woodring uses to make his distinctive lines, they should know Comic Tools Blog is here with the answers, and if we don't already have it, we'll find out and post it.
Last night instead of posting I stayed up till 5:20 finishing The Hunger Games in one sitting. I'll post later today when my forehead doesn't feel like a compressed fogbank. Apologies for the delay.

March 16, 2012

This week: Getting the details right

Last week I was reading the new issue of BPRD, and I had an epiphany when I got to this terrifying panel by new series artist James Harren:

The epiphany concerned something about the design of the were-jaguar god designed by Guy Davis that I've been pondering for some time. This is Guy Davis' original design for the were-jaguar god:
For years now I've been pondering it's hands, and asking myself what made them seem so catlike even though structurally they're human hands. Having to really study paws for last week's entry sowed the seed of the answer in my head, and I knew it as soon as I saw Harren's drawing: its holding invisible paw pads in it's hands.

I mean, I'm sure that's not how Davis or Harren think of it when they draw the creature. Davis probably just intuited the structure of how a cat's paw looks and drew a human hand twisted into that position. But I've tried drawing it myself, and I could never seem to quite get it right. Looked at through the lens of what I learned doing that post however, it's now so clear: the resting position of the creature's hands matches the way an animal's fingers wrap around it's paw pads. Even without the pads there, it looks paw-like. It also looks twisted an horrible- if you try it, you'll see you can't really do that with your fingers, at least not that far back.

That's not all Guy did either. Remember the vertebral ridge that four legged animals have between their shoulder blades? The creature totally has that, and the line of it's neck goes from that ridge to the top of the back of it's skull, just like on a four legged animal. Because it's standing, it gives the were-jaguar a hunched, looming posture. And it's ribcage isn't wide like a human's, it's deep and narrow. These characteristics are what allow the creature to look natural both moving like a humanoid and moving like a cat, while looking like neither.

The trick with the hands isn't unique to the were-jaguar. Davis also used it for his design of the Wendigo. Again, look at how it's hands behave like a paw without the pads, allowing it to have both human and animal movements:

Anatomical details also matter when you're depicting a character who's supposedly an expert at some sort of physical skill, like gymnastics or punching or, as in the following examples, archery.

Archery coach Jim MacOuerrie recently wrote articles about 3 arches appearing in upcoming films: Katniss from The Hunger Games, Merida from Brave, and Hawkeye from The Avengers. Before you go read the articles, before I even say anything, I want you to look at the following two images and register your instant mental impression of which of them looks cooler, and also which looks like the better archer. Do it now.

Even those of you who know dick about archery are saying Merida, right? Of course you are. Just because you don't know what good archery form is doesn't mean you still can't see things like tension, lines of force, and form. It's the same reason you might not know what good dancing is, but you know it when you see it. In fact, if you read the articles, the guy playing Hawkeye is making almost every conceivable rookie mistake there is. His form is so bad that he literally could not possibly hit his targets at all. In contrast, Merida and Katniss both have perfect, olympian form. For those of you who don't know, Hawkeye is supposed to be the best archer in the whole universe of some shit like that. And here he is looking less experienced than two ladies, even to the untrained eye. To the trained eye he looks goddamned ridiculous. The author even shows an 11 year old girl looking more cool and athletic than Hawkeye.

That Katniss and Merida have correct form is no accident: The actress playing Katniss studies with an olympic archer, and the Pixar folks did their motherfucking research. With the internet, this is not hard for artists to do. It pays off not just because you'll have the private satisfaction of getting the details right: with physical action, getting the form right makes things look cooler, more badass, more beautiful.

You guys all know how much I love process art, and in searching for images of James harren's work online to find that drawing he did of the Jaguar god, I found some step by step pages on his Deviant Art page. As it turns out, doing BPRD has really forced him to learn as he goes and reassess his drawing process, which he talks about in these two examples:

Here's an older page,

and here's a newer page.

Look at those panels of Abe fighting that monster. Talk about lines of force!

Finally, I have happy news. The marriage equality comic I posted about last week did even better than it's Kickstarter goal, will will definitely be happening! I don't know if any of you donated, but if you did, you have my thanks.

Seeya next week!

March 11, 2012

March 4, 2012

This week: Dogs are clenching rocks in their paws.

This post was inspired by a tweet by Elanor Davis about 2 weeks back. She tweeted "Before I die I hope I'll be able to draw a dog leg without getting super confused halfway through."

Animals and their weird anatomy can be really hard to draw out of your head, and Elanor's post prompted me to do two posts on hard to draw animal stuff. I decided I should do one on the horse, which was last week's post, because EVERYONE has trouble drawing horses, except a few freaks of nature that leave the rest of us seeing through green lenses. (By the way, was the horses post helpful to anyone the way my people anatomy ones were? Haven't heard any feedback on it yet.) Now this week, this one is dedicated to Elanor.

So, here's a wolf skeleton, the platonic ideal of a dog shape. Compare it to the structure of a horse and you'll see it shares a lot of characteristics, but there are differences too. Just like with the horse the curve of the spine is actually convex but the vertebral ridges make it seem concave. The pelvis is a lot narrower but has a similar structure. The ankles and elbows and lower but the general idea of how they're arranged is similar. And the tall, narrow ribcage and long downswept shoulder blades are almost the same.

Here's a great illustration of the leg from many angles:

Now, I won't dwell on the body much in terms of shape and proportions, and I'll tell you why in just a bit. But I will say that just like with my horse post, unless you want to draw really realistically, you only need to know where masses of muscle start and end to get the shape of the leg right. Here's the basic shapes of the skeleton:

And here are the start and end points for the muscles. Notice that they're basically the same as the anchor points for human muscles? Our quads start at our iliac crests and go just below our knee joint, and so do a dog's. Our hamstrings start at our ischiums and go just below the knee, and so do a dog's. The muscles at the back of our arm start at the shoulder blade and attach to the humerus and elbow, and so do a dog's. We may be all twisted around but we're all built on basically the same plan.

Now, I said I wouldn't get into proportions or shape too much, and here's why: through breeding we've twisted dogs into all sorts or forms. There are no set proportions for a dog. Researching this post I found a great website called that sells t-shirts depicting the skeletons of many popular breeds of dog. Here's a couple examples:

Now, these don't conform to wolf proportions at all, but they do conform to my start and end points. All of them, no matter how weird. Muscles still pull on pretty much the same places, no matter how those places are arranged, or in what animal.

Once you know how to fill in the masses of muscle the tops of the legs are pretty simple. What I think is by far the most confusing bit of a dog are it's paws. There's all these little bumps that look like joints, digits poking out of weird places in the middle of it's leg, it's total mayhem. Sort of like with neck muscles, it's really not so complex, but if you don't know what's underneath it's sort of hard to parse what the hell is going on. So let me offer you a clear, easy to remember description that will aid your memory: dogs are always clenching five rocks in their tiny, withered hands.

Just follow me on this one. Here is a human hand in several poses, and next to it is a dog hand, drawn without it's pads or it's fur:
That bump on the wrist is the most obviously different thing from the human hand, but you actually do have it. It's called the pisiform bone, and on dogs and cats is really prominent. The rest of the dog's hand is actually very similar, it just looks withered. The fingers are actually shockingly long and thin, but you can't tell when the pads are on them. I've drawn them straight for simplicity, but they're actually very knobby.

Now let's add the pads:

As you can see that brings us most of the way towards the hand becoming a paw right there. Note, even though the pisiform bone sticks out and UP, the top of it is covered by the flesh of the arm, (look back up the the lines you draw for the masses of flesh on the arm, the line goes down from the elbow to the top of the bone) and the pad on it actually points DOWN. The little thumb has no pad on dogs. As for the rest of the fingers, they appear to be ever clutching a handful of little rocks. When the dog stands, it stands on the mounds formed by these pads, as if they were platform shoes.

Here at last is the same drawings with the fur filled in. Now it's a paw, not an exhibit from the Mütter museum.

I don't actually recommend drawing paws out like this every time, but thinking of them this way will hopefully keep you from getting confused about all those bumps and sticky out bits on the paw. Remember: dogs are always clutching rocks in their paws.

Let me know if these are actually helpful. See you next week!

March 3, 2012

This week: Draw a horse, of course.
Sorry for the wait! It's been quite a little while since I did one of these anatomy posts and I forgot how much more prep they take. So!

First let me say, the mission statement for this post is NOT to give you all the tools you need to draw a perfect, realistic horse. How many of you draw in perfect photorealism? Basically none, right? So what good does that do? I won't even be giving you an overview of all the major visible muscles like I did with my earlier anatomy posts. Nope, my mission with this post is simple: make it so your horses don't come out like this:
Or like some weird dog thing or whatever. My mission is to give you the tools, in the form of some basic shapes and a little anatomical knowledge, to draw a horse that looks recognizably like a horse, and not a deformed cat, in any position.

I'll start with the skull. Horse skulls seem terribly alien, and they are. They're not like our heads at all. Making them odder still is the fact that while they inform surface anatomy, they don't look like a horse head the way that a skull looks pretty much like a noseless human head. As you know, I loathe basic shapes in drawing books that act only as gestural masses. I favor teaching basic shapes that you can actually build anatomy onto, even hand muscles on if you want to, or that you can use to check the correctness of a drawing you've done quickly. My choice for the horse skull is a sort of a rounded 3-sided pyramid. The back of the skull is a flat , rounded triangle narrower than it is tall. The pyramid, which if stood on it's base would look more like a lopsided Chinese mountain, is tall and leans toward the short edge of the triangular base. The tip is blunt, blunt enough for a set of horse's teeth into. Finally, I like to draw two lines down from the acute angle of the triangle down to the end of the nose, as a visual guide both for the center of the face and to remind me that that part of the horse's nose is very narrow.

As you can see in the above drawing, my next step is simple: I extend two sets of cones out at a slant from that nasal bridge, which will fill out the structure of the horse's eye sockets and it's nostrils. Just by doing that you have all the structure you need to flesh out the head and alter the shapes as you like for the horse you're drawing. I chose this shape both because you can easily create real anatomy from it, and because it's easy to rotate in space to create hard-to-draw angles.

You can also use this shape to easily draw the skull, which is important to draw if your horse is going to open it's mouth:

The next thing you need to know about horses, and all four legged animals actually, is that their ribcages and shoulder blades are in a radically different position. Our shoulder blades are flat on our backs, and along with the collar bones form a loop around the top of our ribcage. Four legged animals have shoulder blades that point down, and they have no collar bones. Our ribcage is shallow front to back, and relatively wide, whereas in four legged animals their ribcage is taller than it is wide. The anatomy looks as if a human were squished at the sides and pulled front to back:
Here's a lovely anatomical illustration to show you what it really looks like:

The most alien thing about horse anatomy (and other four legged animals) is the way huge vertebral ridges affect the contour of their back, and in the case of horses, their neck. If you feel your back and neck your spine and beck bones are pretty much near the surface at the back, right? Not so with horses. a huge ridge of vertebral bones between their shoulders (called the withers by horse people) sticks way up from their back, and huge muscles extend from there to the back of the head. This means the neck bones are buried closer to the front of the neck than they are the back. Furthermore, even though the line of a four legged animal's spine is a convex line, the shape formed by this ridge makes a horse's back look like a concave shape. Another ridge of vertebrae, along with the pelvic bones, make the back higher, making the spine seem even more concavely curved. But it's not.
You can see these two ridges VERY clearly in the photo of this horse:

His spine is almost straight in this pose, but it looks bent because of these structures.

Next we'll move on to the pelvis. As you can see, the pelvis is the widest part of a horse:

But from the side, the pelvis is so this you can basic shape it as if it were a sheet of cardboard and not lose much accuracy. Which is exactly how I treat it. I draw the pelvis as a triangle of cardboard that's had it's end nipped off, and a fold made in it about 2/3-3/4ths of the way to the narrow side. The two sides of the fold get balls glued on representing the hip sockets.
With this shape, you can draw a horse's rear in absolutely any position. Remember that the tail passes under the top of the hips, curves over it, and the tail hangs down past the end, like in the drawing below:

Those are the basic shapes you need for the body. For the legs, well, I can get you started, but those, like human hands, demand study and practice. There's no way around it. It does help to remember what joints on the hose correspond to which joints on a human, however:

Now let's put these all together. Here's a horse I sketched with these basic shapes:
And here's how I drew him, step by step:

Note that the shoulder blade sweeps way forward an an angle, it doesn't just point down. And the short, stumpy humerus sweeps back an an equally aggressive angle. The elbow does not go below the ribcage pretty much ever, and it can't extend hardly at all. Unless you're drawing a horse in an extreeme position, you should draw the shoulder blade and humerous as if they were an almost immobile, rigid structure.
Note how the back of the elbow sticks, way, way up, to give the muscles that will sweep down from the whole shoulder blade a big handle to pull on. You need to draw this so when you draw the huge lump of shoulder muscle it looks basically right.

When you fill in the muscles, remember that you know about human anatomy. You know the calf muscles pull on the bottom of the femur, so just draw a line from there to there. You know the quads pull from the top of the pelvis, and the butt muscles from the sides and bottom, so draw lives from there to there. The idea here is not even so much to get exact muscles right, but to make the structure fit together in a way that comes out making sense no matter what lose you're in. If the leg is bent or stretched, the muscles start and end in the same place, so a line drawn between them will pretty much look right. Horses actually have fat little pectoral muscles which make their chests poof out a bit at the base of their necks, so make sure to draw that. Same deal, remember your human anatomy: from the sternum to the humerus, right? Same thing, just no collar bone.
Some really basic proportions will help keep you in check. I hate books that list people's bodies in terms of head measurements, both because the head is round and uneven and there's too many heads to really visually count. I can't picture seven heads very easily and I bet neither can you. But horse heads and nice and big and long and straight, perfect for measuring their own bodies. Here's a diagram, and below some helpful proportions:

  • The ribcage is about 1 head tall, 1.5 heads long, and 3/4ths if a head wide.
  • The body, chest to ass is about 2.5 heads long.
  • The neck, if you uncurved it, is about 1.5 heads long, and ends up being about 1 head away from the body.
  • The pelvis is about 3/4ths if a head long, 1 head wide.
  • The distance from the elbow to the ground is 1.5 heads. (Makes sense, right? If it were farther the horse wouldn't reach when it fed. Horse legs are proportionally shockingly small.) If you draw a line half way down from the elbow, the front leg "wrist" is just under it and the back leg "ankle" is just over it.
  • The "knuckles" are roughly the same level above the hooves.
  • If you're concerned about drawing the legs sticking too far out, a circle drawn with it's center as the elbow in the front and the hip joint in the back, with the standing leg as the radius, gives you pretty much the full range of motion.
  • One important point is that the "wrist" joint cannot flip forward, it only bends backward or locks straight. Even with the leg extended forward, the shoulder joint never unbends very far, as you can see in this photo:
The proportions will vary between breeds of horses, and horses of different ages. Foals have tall skinny legs, draft horses are stockier and stubbier. But these proportions will give you a horse that's basically horse like and not a cow crossed with a kangaroo.

Finally, there's the issue of where to put the horse's legs. Well, that depends on the speed they're going. Again, like with drawing hands, knowing the basic anatomy will help you, but you need to draw them and look at them carefully to get them right. I think the most useful thing is slow motion videos of horses in different gaits. Horses actually change their leg arrangement completely at different speeds, so you need to know how fast you want your horse going before you can figure out what the legs will be doing. Here's some great videos I found at 3 different speeds:




Note that these don't cover fancy military gaits or anything.

Finally, a few details that people often get wrong:

  • Horse ears are straight on the inside edge, rounded on the outside edge. They can swivel them around to show different emotions.
  • Hooves don't stick out on the front and back. They mostly follow the line down from the "knuckle" in front, and in the back they curve out.
  • Sometimes, they can bend their "finger" back just above the hoof, like on the bottom left.

I'll end with a behind the scenes treat, a photo of all the horse drawings I did in research for this post:

Next week I'll be back to explain dog's legs. Seeya!