I wish I could draw

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What I'm not seeing in your doodles a lot of are corrections to the original lines. And almost none of those figures seem to be made out of representative shapes. There are circles for heads, and that's a good start. Keep doing that.

Now for the other shapes in the other figures. The hedgehog(?) looks like a potato shape with a head stuck on the narrow end. Hedgehogs aren't potatoes. If you want to simplify a critter down to an easily recognizable shape, it helps to start with a good understanding of the real thing and then you can pick which elements to emphasize and which ones to discard in order to get your image across.



Pictured above: the fate of all flesh, assuming that flesh is hedgehog in nature. If you're hoarding some flesh that isn't hedgehog but are curious as to its ultimate end, this is not the thread for you. Also, you gonna eat that?

Whenever I draw a bones-in kind of animal (even a human!) I find it's best to give it a spine and a head. The spine is a major support structure and is inextricably tied to the overall shape AND posture of an animal. Make use of it! Let nature do the hard work of figuring out things for you; use the existing patterns in anatomy as a roadmap! This is especially helpful for figuring out how to pose an animal in 3 dimensions, which almost always makes for a better picture than a flat full-on side view anyway.

For this spiny little earthworm-muncher I'm going to sketch the basic head and spine, and let those define the shape for the upper part of the body.


Needs a snout and a stout little ribcage to pack those organs into, and it needs some leg-sticks to waddle around on. All vertebrates with legs share the same structures; upper limb bones, joint, lower limb bones, wrist/ankle, digits. This is because all of us are descended from goofy-looking, lumpy-finned fish and used their pebbly, lumpy-fin bones as the jumping-off point.


Every bony animal with limbs has some variation on this basic plan, and all air-breathing spinal cord-endowed critter shares the same internal structure for the limbs with some bits tweaked to be longer, shorter, or reduced to nubs. Even some snakes have vestigial hind-legs, and sometimes whales and dolphins surprise us with throw-backs that reveal their leggy origins.

The secret to drawing many different kinds of animals is to recognize what all of us vertebrate freaks have in common and let that knowledge guide you in your visualizations. The dawning realization that everything with a backbone shares the same basic body plan was an extremely powerful revelation in the history of science; you can harness that same epiphany when making art!

Why did I spend so many words talking about comparative anatomy, evolution, and the like? Because to be frank your hedgehog's legs look weird. And they look weird because they don't follow that universal vertebrate body plan at all. Same for the monkey. The foot... we can come back to that later.

So anyway, I have used the accumulated knowledge of many intellectual giants, some of whom were facing down social and scientific controversy to advance their hard-won ideas at the risk of ostracization and public humiliation ... to draw li'l stems for this cartoony hedgehog!


Bam, I think we've got the basic skeletal structure taken care of. And all it took was a few sketchy lines, a little recollection of my misspent youth thumbing through biology texts and websites for amusement, and way too many minutes of horrifying Google Image Search results. Notice how light my lines are? Barely visible is NOT a flaw here, at this stage. I've erased nothing, don't need to! I don't see anything near that many lines in your quick doodles. It's almost like you're not actually trying to follow my methods? Maybe not even learn from the copious wordspew and abuse of dead trees I'm putting out here for your benefit? Nah, that's silly!

Anyway, let's dis-Deathify our reference hedgehog a bit to see how to hang meat on all those calcified stalks up there.


Pictured above: A watermarked image of a mad roboticist's worst nightmare, for tutorial purposes only. 

What's immediately apparent is just how much of the animal's structure is seemingly hidden within that (admittedly potato-like) assemblage of thews and fur and spines with the hurting and the poking, hoyvin-glavin! But looking closely you can see where the flayed version above fits into this little ugly bag of mostly-water. What protrutes out the most are the lower parts of the legs, from the elbow and ankle joints down. Superimposing this onto our graphite framework yields something like this:


The head and spine have still determined the overall contours and posture of the animal, and the attention to limb placement means we'll get a more realistic rendition. For the sake of clarity I've added bulk to the upper parts of the limbs even though they're obscured in life by the fluffy death-needle thicket. It's important to know where things are underneath, to get a feel for the squidgy volume of things. Things added: pointy snout for rooting around in the dirt like the peasantry, paws, ears, a differentiation between normal fur at that forest of pain on the dorsal part of the animal.

At this point you can take this in more than one direction. You can go more and more realistic, adding details and textures galore. Or you can simplify and cartooninate, reducing the rough but anatomically-informed image of a hedgehog into something approaching a cereal box mascot, a comic stripe character, perhaps even a videogame protagonist?

I leave the decision and execution as an exercise for the Wanderer.


Now, back to the foot... you gonna eat that?

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