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Drawing Anthro Characters

Updated on June 14, 2011

Conquering Furry Characters

Drawing anthro art is probably one of the more difficult subjects for an artist to conquer. It requires knowledge of both human and animal anatomy. If you've attempted to draw anthro art and failed, have no fear. I was as in your shoes once, and in many ways, I am still in your shoes. I've been drawing and taking on commissions for about five years or so, teaching myself along the way. When I came across the anthro art style, I found it to be pretty cool, probably like you did.

But I struggled with the art style for years, probably like you have. Struggling to define snouts, develop ears and fur, while still maintining an eyecatching art style. Well, one thing I didn't have on my adventure was a guide and resources. I plan to give that to you, here. So hopefully your drawing journey will be less aggravating than mine. Through this I hope you can create drawings like the one I've made here. By no means am I a master, but I can certainly get you on the right path.

Getting Started

All too often drawing guides limit themselves by giving only one drawing subject as an example. But, like any artist knows, usually one example isn't enough. In the instance of anthro characters, there are multiple varieties of drawing styles which can be explored. Because of that, this page won't be limited to one drawing example, rather, it will go encompass the overall fundamentals needed to create anthro art, then branch out to specific drawing styles. To put it shortly, It'll give you the basics, then give you links to specific anthro art styles.

The first thing that should be covered are the basic drawing steps used for cartoon drawing. It's a fairly simple 1-2-3 method that's a sure fire for any drawing art style you pick.

Dragoart Drawing Tutorial
Dragoart Drawing Tutorial

The Sure Fire Method of Drawing Any Anthro Character

There is a basic method which is used for almost any cartoon character. It derives from the basic principles of figure drawing and allows an artist to break down their subjects body proportions. This method calls for a rough draft, followed by a basic outline, and the finilization of minor details. To help guide you along with this method, follow the link to a drawing tutorial from DragoArt below, or simply click on the picture shown here.

1. Rough Draft: This is where it all begins. Start by drawing a circle to map out the characters head. Then draw a line extending from the bottom of that circle, this will map out the characters spine. From there you map out the arms and legs of the character using curved lines. What you end up with is a wire frame of your character's body. This will allow you to decide the pose and proportions of your character before you even start drawing their outline.

I would recommend always using a rough draft in some shape or form, especially when you are first starting. As you progress in your artistic ability, you may not need it anymore. But when you're first getting the handle of proportions, stick to it. Always press lightly with your pencil when creating the rough draft, you'll be erasing it later on.

2. The Outline: This is exactly what it sounds like, draw the basic outline of your character. Getting a proportional outline is probably the most challenging part of this process. But that's why we create a rough draft first. Follow the lines of your rough draft to create a proportional outline of your character. It may do you some benefit to practice drawing human and animal anatomy to improve your outlines.

Just remember to work slowly, use your rough draft and focus on developing each body part. If your having trouble drawing any part of your character, such as the snout or stomach, then look at some reference pictures to help guide you.

During this step I would recommend refraining from drawing too much inner details, such as fur patterns, claws, etc. But it may help to draw the basic outline of the eyes or nose. It really depends on what works best for you.

3. Detailing: Just as easy as that, we've come close to completing our picture. All too often beginning artists think there is some sort of magic secret to creating awesome pictures. Honestly, all it takes is basic principles and a whole lot of practice. That being said, understand that what I'm saying next may sound too simple, but it's honestly all you need to do.

Once you've created a solid outline, it's usually best to erase any extra pencil markings and smudges you find. After that, start adding the inner details of your anthro character. Anything like eyes, fur patterns and clothing. Believe it or not, this is much simpler than the first two steps of drawing a character. If you do your outline right, it makes drawing details a whole lot easier.

4. Touch ups: This is anything from inking to coloring. These are artforms in and of themselves. I find that they are best learned by looking at examples and studying artwork like there's no tomorrow. Some quick facts before you dive in; the majority of modern anthro artists use computer painting software to color their drawings. The coloring style most frequently used is called cell shading. Anthro artists will vary in the type of characters they create, so be sure to look at as many different artists as possible.

Now that you're starting to get the hang of all this, let's take a look at some different anthro art styles below. Believe me when I say this, reference pictures will dramatically help you develop your art skills.

DragoArt Drawing Tutorial

This shows the fundamental breakdown fairly clearly, with only minor variations made by the artist.

Computer Painting Software

Artist Jay Axer - Realistic Anthro Characters

Art by Jay Axer
Art by Jay Axer

Axer has an excellent ability of taking anthro characters and making them look as if they actually existed. If you are looking to develop characters with a more realistic style, he is the artist to observe. I had an email conversation with him long ago, asking if he had any golden rules which he followed. He replied saying that there wasn't any major rules he followed, he just practiced till he got it right.

But, he did mention that it was important to incorporate the volume of the animal qualities found on your character. Things like snouts, ears and wings should all be defined clearly. Never hide characteristics you are uncomfortable drawing behind hair or clothing. If you're unsure how to draw a certain animal feature, bring it out in the open and practice drawing it till you get it right.

Follow this artist by clicking the picture above!

Artist Extvia - Cartoon/ Chibi Style of Anthro Art

Faye the Android Rabbit
Faye the Android Rabbit

Extvia's work revolves around the basic fundamentals of chibi anime. He has added his own twist to the art style, but the fingerprints still remain. If you are looking to develop cuter Anthro characters, Extvia's gallery is the place to go. Take note on how he draws the eyes, mouths, hands and feet of his characters. The body types can vary from picture to picture, but you can always find the chibi style by viewing these body parts.

I would also take note of how he develops the outlines of his characters. His pictures generally carry a warmer look because the outlines are thin. Thicker outlines will give a more comic feel and won't lend themselves well to the coloring style used by Extvia.

Follow this artist by clicking the picture above!

Artist Alector Fencer - Traditional Anthro Art

Art of Alec Fencer
Art of Alec Fencer

As I delved into anthro art study back in my rookie years, I found that there was a traditional drawing method which seemed to have started the art genre. Fencer portrays this style well, using exaggerated animal characteristics on his character. When studying Fencer's work, look at how he incorporates the distinct animal-like qualities, such as snouts and foot paws, into his artwork. It takes much practice to be able to use dynamic characteristics like these and still keep a realistic feel to a drawing.

If you are looking to get into the traditional style of anthro art, study Fencer's work.

Follow this artist by clicking the picture above!

Artist Culpeo-Fox - Abstract Anthro Art

Whispering
Whispering

Culpeo defines abstract expressionistic art perfectly. His drawing style is more fluid, using strong outlines and dark shading to develop emotion within his characters. If you are looking to create a style which is more gritty, look at Culpeo's work. I would take note of his inking technique and the facial emotions of his characters. He often uses heavy cross hatching methods when inking, a method generally not seen in mainstream cartoon artwork. I would also look into the tones he uses for his backdrops. Culpeo rarely leaves a background white. He generally adds brown hues, giving his pictures a more earthy and abstract feel.

Follow this artist by clicking the picture above!

Other Furry Artists

Below are all the links to the artists mentioned and then some. Remember, studying anthro art is the best way to learn. Obviously, don't copy these artists drawing styles, but learn from them! Keep drawing until you develop your own unique style.

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    • profile image

      misirkov 18 months ago

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks bro. This helped a lot. Now, to the notebook! *runs off*

    • globalDoodle profile image

      globalDoodle 6 years ago

      Intriguing combination. I like it. Thanks for introducing me to anthro. I'd like to invite you to check out our interactive doodling website globalDoodle.com where you can draw with others in real time (or by your self of course). You might like it. Cheers.