|Anting by George Boorujy, 2011, ink on paper, 55 1/2 x 108.|
That's always the statement that rings in my head when I focus on how to draw animals because in my mind, drawing animals is all about physical appearance and movement. A bear, an owl, and a lizard all have very different appearances and for an artist to depict the likeness of any one of those creatures he or she has to be able to draw texture and capture the gesture of the subject.
So when I've come upon the occasion to draw an animal, I always try to think of its visual characteristics in tactile terms, trying to articulate an animal's weightiness or lightness, or how the texture of its scales, skin, or fur would feel underhand.
Thunder, Perfect Mind by George Boorujy,2011,
For example, accurate depictions of fur will require your pencil strokes to follow the growth pattern of the fur, and remember that no two are necessarily alike. Strokes can be short, thin, and wispy for a sleek short-haired cat's fur. But for the shaggy, coarse mane of a lion, you may want to pull out the charcoal or Conte crayon. No matter the tactile appearance of the fur, drawing it in relation to how it grows allows not only for visual interest in a drawing, but it can help give an artist a sense of how the anatomy of the animal subject is built under all that puffy fur.
When it comes to scales, from what I've observed, it is better to focus on the scales closest to you and allow them to recede in detail as you go back or around the animal in the drawing. Hatching and crosshatching can allow an artist to get the layered look of bird feathers, and remember that feathers tend to get smaller and shorter toward a bird's breast and fan out longer on the wings and tail.
I'm no expert on how to draw animals. I receive most of my instruction from experienced artists who have done this for decades. If you are the same way and would like to learn from animal drawing experts, tune in for the free webinar on How to Draw Wild Animals. It will give you a real appreciation for the high level observation and focus you want when depicting an animal's bearing and appearance, and how to get the gesture and poise of an animal, too. Enjoy!