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How did y'all learn how to anthropomorphize animals in art?


New Member
I was just curious how everyone else has learned how to anthropomorphize animals in their art, because it's something I've never been able to do well, even in a cartoony way! If anyone has advice on that, please feel free to share!

It's been about 10 years since I tried to draw fursona art and I'd like to start exploring it...but have no idea where to start.

Do I start with real human proportions, and then the animal ones? I'm not the best at drawing and grew up with those how to draw manga/anime books. Not sure where to start so I can practice.


always hungry
10 years is a long way. It only takes me a month of no drawing to get rusty so cut yourself some slack! It'll come to you, alright?
show me what you got and let's see what you need to work on


Dire Wolf and Dragon Therianthrope
When I started drawing anthro art, it was in conjunction with when I started writing seriously. The very first bit of genuine anthro art that I'd ever drawn was a Draconian (read, anthro dragon) from the very first draft of my very first book. At first, I was satisfied with my art, both illustrated and literary, until I realized just how much of a gap there was between where I was and where (in my mind) I should be. (Note, this is a should be in the same manner of how a child thinks they should be able to have a second slice of cake- very much entitled and with no basis in reality.)
I am, primarily, a self-taught artist, and it shows, not because I'm particularly good, rather, I severely lack in several areas because I did not, and to some degree, still do not know or recognize several fairly obvious techniques that a more classically trained artist does. It does not help that I learn in a different way than most others. For me, learning how to draw anything, much less anthropomorphic art, has been sheer trial and error and having enough self-awareness to realize where I fail at. I still keep my crappy childhood art, some which is a bit edgy because edgy to a child is cool, but to an adult me is mostly character situational- if done at all.
My greatest leap in quality thus far has not been done through purchasing better art supplies- they would be wasted on me at the present moment- or through getting art classes, mainly because I cannot afford them. My greatest leap in quality was when I learned not to feel anxiety over replicating, but not presenting or claiming as my own, another artist's art. It's all something we've done in k-12 art class, where we mimic the art of a great, renown artist to learn the techniques they used or develop similar techniques all our own. For me, finding good art and using it as a temporary reference to teach the basic information needed to do something good is vital. You learn the basics from observation- don't trace, tracing only teaches you to follow a line, rather draw something from what you can observe, make mistakes, learn to ignore the mistakes unless they are extreme, and draw again until you learn how to not make the mistake in the first place.
I test myself by drawing with a pen, if I can replicate something fairly accurately, at least in shape or in a manner that shows I have learned a technique, then I move on, experimenting with what I have learned without the reference until it is something that is truly mine, and not something that you can just draw because you drew it 100x times. For instance, I recently learned how to draw a more realistically proportioned reptilian head, and now I am experimenting with the different shapes and sizes that I can make it, the different directions I can draw it facing. This is something that I struggled with for a long time- which is saying something since the very first art I drew was reptilian/draconic in nature.
Note, however, this is only one avenue of growth, it is not necessarily the only way, but it is the best for me.
Also of note, now that I think about it. I drew the draconian when I was around nine years old, I am twenty-three now. Do not stress about your lack of growth, I have fourteen years of little growth with occasional bursts of competence. You will be fine.

S. Zissou

Leave the gun, take the Canoli
Disney for sure BUT, I'd start from source material first, gather real life images or go in real life if you can!
There are wild bunnies near my job in the city and they could care less about people (so long as they keep their distance) and I was able do a page
or two of gesture drawings

If you want to glance at the disney ones, google Disney Reference Sheets. For one reason or another I was shocked at the simplicity of Roxanne's design,
though it's certainly a distillation of anatomy work over time, which you've some time to do.

Once you get the gesture, flow and design down, it'll come together, just be patient and keep at it!

I highly recommend help-me-draw.tumblr.com for a catch all for drawing stuffs. The author of the blog is, I believe an animator (or learning animation)
but the side bar is a wealth of info from across tumblr.
Michael Hampton's anatomy book
I've been using Senshi's Stock on DA for anatomy pose references b/c her vault is so huge but there are other cool sites for online anatomy reference.
Wildlife drawings.


it's a moth! it a dragon! no, it's a avali boi!
about seven years of on and off practice, and I'm still not quite there yet.


New Member
Thanks for replying, everyone! After staring at some references that were shared, I sketched out some basic proportions for a cougar/mountain lion tonight in my sketchbook, thinking of completing the picture digitally. It looks funny to me...but I can't figure out where/why. Can anyone please give some advice on what looks the weirdest? Aside from the unnatural-looking standing position! Just trying to start a reference sheet, would love to do side/back view eventually, too!