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Discussion: working in variety to anthro heads


i can honeslty say i suck at this skill. Yes, admittedly i draw many species where they look very similar, and that is something i can work on easily. however, another issue has come up for me: getting variety in facial structures with anthros.

Long explanation aside, I am unsure how to make one wolf character look different from another wolf character. It does not seem to be as easy as t is to work in variety in human faces, where brow ridges can fall heavier without making it look like a different breed of dog or a whole new species entirely.

If you have any thoughts, I'd really appreciate hearing what you have to add, as some clues might help me push forward and improve.

I may eventually upload some pictures of different faces of the same species or breed IF I can differentiate a little bit. Otherwise I'll work in quieter terms, yet learning from what we discuss here.

Thanks for your time.


a sentient shade of teal
Humans can only recognize subtle diffeences in facial features of humans, a slight difference of a wolf's face makes a smaller impact on the recognition as an individual for a human.
Also, the fur is kindof like a monotonising mask above the skin, it softens the characteristics of the surface of the fur.

My suggestion is variety by stylization. If you are altering the features of realistically drawn creatures, you are limited by realistic bounds. The more you stylize, the more freedom you have in making something look individual/unique.

Arshes Nei

Masticates in Public
Look up Tom Bancroft's book and it gives you a lot of tips. I also believe that http://amzn.com/1600611141 Cartoonimals gives you pretty good tips on variation


You can make them look different.
The muzzle, for example, makes this guy look older to me: http://i53.tinypic.com/14m4b9y.jpg
Scruffiness makes a character look older/different. Maybe some longer fur on the chin or above the nose? Maybe some greying in the muzzle?
A heavier brow, thinner/thicker eyebrows. I like thicker eyebrows for males, and they tend to seem more expressive to me. [thats why I like my eyebrows irl :D]

I apologize if this isn't what you're looking for, your desc. was kind of vague


Thanks for all the input so far; I'll keep that in mind while I work.

Also, to clarify, what I was meaning is wanting to know how people manage to stay within the confines of what resembles a certain species while still working in a variety of facial structures.

For instance, if drawing an otter, the width of the cheeks is not going to allow for much wiggle room before it resembles, say... an ermine or stoat. I was wondering if people had little tricks they've discovered that tends to help get more variety in faces in a side-by-side of similar characters, just as some small changes in a human's face make a big difference.

I've gotten into drawing human portraiture again, and I realized my "anthro" artwork was missing out on the cool variety you can work in for different nationalities or heritages in people. Vietnamese women generally look different from a woman from Cambodia, but there are unifying traits.

In that same way, maybe you've found aspects that are easier to vary with anthros-- such as eye color, eye shape, nose breadth, etc etc

I'm keeping it vague atm because I've frankly not tried but maybe 15 minutes to create a variety of wolf faces. With some more time, HOPEFULLY I will be able to include some pictures to discuss.

Stylization is DEFINITELY the way to go as I now think about it, as most animals have very very subtle differences among their species or breed. Bengal tigers are a good example-- very shallow gene pool makes them look VERY similar in real life. Thanks for that tip.

I'll also see if I can't rent that book recommended somewhere. It looks like it may be helpful, but I'm a little pressed for cash right now.

Thank you all again!
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Mr. Red Flag
Ermine = stoat. *biological twinge* Anyways, Stylizations the way to go. But you mentions making the brow ridges deepr, or the face different, it still applies to animals. That's pretty much the only way you can translate the human notion of those facts on a person into that of an animal. If people are conditioned to think of heavy brows on a person, they'll think the same of an animal. Just as long as you don't over-do it and make monster franken-creatures with heavy brows.


Yeah, p much what FireFeathers is saying

Also, if you look at characters like.. Goofy, Sid [Ice Age], Scrat [Ice Age], they all have certain facial features that give character to the.. character. Sid and Goofy look dopey and stupid.
Lady & The Tramp 2, "Angel" [is that her name? idk, the yellow dog] has a smaller nose than Tramp, Tramp has bushier eyebrows, girls in Disney movies are often given smaller features like feet/nose and bigger eyes, but they can also look different from each other while being the same sex.. like Nala vs Zera.

[oooh, check out the nose, like the picture I drew and linked way up there^ ;) see? looks evil and older]

Wider/skinnier eyes look "evil", maybe some scraggly fur, darkness under eyes, smaller pupils, scars, visible cheekbones, etc etc, these are all features Disney uses to portray "bad" characters... like Simba/Mustafa vs Scar

The bushy, thin eyebrows make him look friendly, as well as his large pupils and eyes.
Steele has thick eyebrows [well, the white above his eyes], a broad chest, thick "shoulders", small pupils, a thick neck, and prominent cheekbones.
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Arshes Nei

Masticates in Public
Like I said....Cartoonimals. It has some simple but interesting info.



I like that horse-face one, that's a good example.

Reminds me of Altivo from Road to El Dorado vs Maximus from Tangled.
Both are white horses, both have their manes tied up at one point, but both have certain body characteristics in the face and legs that distinguish them from one another.


Thank you all again for your assistance. I guessed eyes would be important, but I will certainly play around with jaw structures as you recommended. Thanks for the helpful photos and links as well.

Ermine = stoat. *biological twinge*

Said to be clear-- I used both words to aid in clarity in case some people only know the name for a stoat and ermine. This is the same as saying that "a lift or elevator is the preferred choice for moving a patient in a wheelchair". My use of language may have been unclear if you know about both names.

I knew they were synonnymous, haha.
Seconding what's said above, you certainly can change up more than just the muzzle or ears. Depending on how human you want your character to look, you can even change up width, how the eyes are set, how gaunt or round the face is, et cetera. There's also the oft-overlooked factor of age. Most fur characters are perpetually 20 years old, so just adding a few wrinkles around the eyes can make a difference.


Could I suggest lining up a bunch of wolf (or whatever) photos/videos and finding every difference between them? I've looked at a lot of cheetah pictures over the past year or so, and I can spot differences, despite the close genepool.