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Knowing about muscles while drawing realistic birds

The animal and wildlife forum concentrates on drawings of all animals, from domestic pets to wildlife - anything dressed in fur, feathers or scales. The emphasis is on drawing but paintings are also acceptable.

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Re: Knowing about muscles while drawing realistic birds

Postby Anisha » Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:02 am

Mike Sibley wrote: It seems to me that if you know enough about the
three-dimensional form of the subject that you can draw a wireframe... you don't need the wireframe.


This is perfectly true. My problem is that I do NOT know the 3D forms of many things - like a crocodile. If I find how to draw a wireframe on it, then I will be able to visualize its body in 3D. Then I will be able to know where to shade and where not to.

I know the 3D form perfectly of only one thing and that is - a box. I won't draw a wireframe for that.

Actually, JD Hillberry's book says that we need to shade according to contours. A conical flower pot is used as an example there. It doesn't help because that is very simple. The book does not mention how to find the contours of a cloth bag (which doesn't have a fixed form).

That time I tried shading the interior of a bell. I will post that drawing here tomorrow to show you what happens for when you have to "guess" the 3D form.

Mike Sibley wrote: I think you can learn where the principle muscles are over time as you work, but knowing the underlying structure - the skeleton - can sometimes be very helpful. For example, it helped me to make sense of the paws and legs, in a breed such as a Greyhound, where the sinews and some major veins are visible as sub-surface features.

So, you are saying that for animals, we need to remember their skeleton and muscle structure for realistic shading.
So, maybe the way would be to start from one particular animal and continue practicing drawing that animal till we become an expert, and then start with other animal?

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Re: Knowing about muscles while drawing realistic birds

Postby Bev » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:01 pm

You seem to have got stuck on this wireframe thing. A suggestion, start sketching from life, either go out and sit in a field of cows or sheep or chickens or whatever, then do some really quick sketches of what you see (you will also see where the shadows fall), observe carefully and sketch quickly. If you cant get out to sketch then set up items at home using some sort of light to accentuate the shadows and draw what you see, just do it, don't over-think, if you keep a journal, in a few weeks, if you draw every day, you WILL see an improvement. Also, as you go about your daily life, keep looking at things from a drawing point of view, look at things and see where the light falls on them how animals and people move, no need to do special trips just be observant. it all helps.
Regarding Mike's comment about the skeleton and structure, he is right of course, but I would like to add that I only have a basic idea of animals skeletons/muscles which I have picked up along the way, I cant say I studied them, but I have loved animals all my life and I guess things do rub off without consciously having to study them, but whatever you can do to learn, from books or life, will all help you to draw realisticly.
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Re: Knowing about muscles while drawing realistic birds

Postby Mike Sibley » Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:20 pm

Bev wrote:Regarding Mike's comment about the skeleton and structure, he is right of course, but I would like to add that I only have a basic idea of animals skeletons/muscles which I have picked up along the way, I cant say I studied them...

That's what I meant ! I have never studied anatomy - skeletal or muscular. The illustration of the dog's skeleton was used purely for reference whenever I had problems understanding what I was seeing.

Muscles is more of an instinctive thing. If I see a bulge, it's either a muscle or the ribcage - and I know where the ribcage is, so if it isn't that, it's a muscle :)
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Re: Knowing about muscles while drawing realistic birds

Postby Mike Sibley » Thu Aug 10, 2017 1:45 pm

Anisha wrote: My problem is that I do NOT know the 3D forms of many things - like a crocodile. If I find how to draw a wireframe on it, then I will be able to visualize its body in 3D. Then I will be able to know where to shade and where not to.

If you draw a wireframe superimposed on it then I can see how that might help you to explore its body in 3D. But, to a very large extent, you need to understand the three-dimensional form in order to draw the wireframe.

I do NOT know the 3D forms
YES, YOU DO. We're born with an innate understanding of shadows and light. If a surface is bright we understand that the light is shining on it, And if it gradually turns darker, we know it's a curve that moves out of the light. The light and shadows tell us what the three-dimensional form is.

...like a crocodile
I've never drawn a croc and I don't have any photos of crocs. So... what do I know about the three-dimensional form of a crocodile? Well, its body and head are flattened cylinders. There will be a broad area that is well lit along its back, and narrow margins that curve away from the light.

It has hard, armoured, protuberances along its back. I know they're raised because each will cast a shadow. It has "scales" along its sides. I know their 3D form because each will have a highlighted edge, a flat top surface, and then curl away into the shade that marks the division between each scale.

To draw, you need two things: an outline of its shape and knowledge of its three-dimensional form, so you can construct the light and shade. Are you intending to work from photos or your imagination? I work with both, but where accuracy is essential I work with photos. And the more photos you have, the easier it becomes to understand the form. Having many photos allows you to see the subject from many angles. Study the way the light is catching it and you'll understand the form. Now apply that to the shape outline, which you can trace if that helps.

So, you are saying that for animals, we need to remember their skeleton and muscle structure for realistic shading.

Absolutely not. You can understand the three-dimensional form simply by looking at the way the light is falling on the subject. If I have a problem understanding a particular complex part, I'll look at a skeleton illustration to help me understand it.

All animal muscles are very similar to our own, so they're easier to make sense of. Of course, we can't fly, so there are some variations - such as birds having large chest muscles, attached to the very large breast bone, that are used to power their flight. But you pick these things up as you draw and learn.

I once had an artist I taught online at Drawspace.com who thought there is a unique "method" for drawing every individual texture and form. He'd analyse everything down to the smallest degree. Then I taught him at one of my physical workshops, and again he was making copious notes about how every line should be drawn for hair, for rust, for brick, for trees... and how my hand was working.

Finally, the lady next to him suddenly said "JUST DRAW, for goodness sake JUST DRAW WHAT YOU SEE AND FEEL!"

I have a feeling you're doing the same - becoming fixed on the idea that wireframes will teach you about three-dimensional form. They won't! You can only draw wireframes when you understand three-dimensional form.

As Bev advised - just draw. Everything will make more and more sense in time.
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Re: Knowing about muscles while drawing realistic birds

Postby Anisha » Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:30 am

Mike Sibley wrote:
Anisha wrote: You can only draw wireframes when you understand three-dimensional form.

Thankful to you for the long post. I think I understand what you are saying with this statement.
I think you have basically said that understanding the 3D form and drawing the wireframe are the same things.
So, drawing a wireframe won't be "required" if I understand the 3D form.

So, understanding the 3D form is required. I will see how I can achieve that.
I don't have any intentions of copying photos. I will use them though to understand the 3D forms.

Again, thankful to you.

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Re: Knowing about muscles while drawing realistic birds

Postby Mike Sibley » Fri Aug 11, 2017 10:49 am

Anisha wrote:I think you have basically said that understanding the 3D form and drawing the wireframe are the same things.

Yes... and I wish I could have said it as simply as you just did. It would have saved a lot of typing :)

So, understanding the 3D form is required. I will see how I can achieve that.

Just study the light and shade. That's how we see and understand three-dimensional form in real life. Don't think of it as drawing - think of it as sculpting. You use light and shade to create the three-dimensional form of your subject - in exactly the same way that you use it to understand the form that you see in life.

I don't have any intentions of copying photos. I will use them though to understand the 3D forms.

That was the use I was suggesting. Please note that I said WITH photos and not FROM photos. Copying photos can be very useful when you first begin drawing and are learning the techniques, because they give you a fixed image to match. But your drawing will be a drawing of the photo and not a recreation of the subject. It will contain nothing of YOU and your feelings for it.

Drawing WITH photos simply uses the photos to supply information. That might, for example, be assistance with understanding the form; as a source of detail, that might be missed when drawing from life; or to help you to study the various textures. You take what you need, you adapt some to suit your own vision, and then you discard everything of no value to you.
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Re: Knowing about muscles while drawing realistic birds

Postby lmweil » Sat Oct 14, 2017 11:07 am

If I may be so bold....
Learning about skeletal structure, muscles and feather/fur can only help your drawing. If you understand how things work, you can draw the animal quicker and from any angle. Understanding assists when drawing from life, as it is, as you and Mike both said, knowing the 3d form. This knowledge becomes a vital tool in life drawing and can help to slove problems when drawing from reference.

For example, say all your reference photo only shows part of the foot. Or no foot at all. But you want a full foot wrapped around a branch. If you KNOW how anatomy of the animal you can extrapolate and create it from your knowledge of how the structure works. I often need to do this, especially with bird feet.

...but, even saying that IMO you dont need to become a biological scientist. Just learn and get a grip to the basics. An excellent resource is John Muir Laws book, 'Drawing Birds' which I can highly reccommend. Check out the animated giff in the atached link to see how he teaches this.
https://johnmuirlaws.com/drawing-birds
And then just draw!
Linda Weil
http://home.exetel.com.au/lindaweil/

'DRAW!'Wyatt Earp

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Re: Knowing about muscles while drawing realistic birds

Postby Bev » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:17 pm

Great link Linda, The way the animation was done is really helpful for those wanting to draw garden birds.

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