Force: Animal Drawing: Animal locomotion and design concepts for animators

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Find inspiration in observation, and explore the artistic connection between between your zealous dog or dictatorial cat and your animations. Armed with Muybridge and Hultgren but are unsure how to bridge the gap between the many basic 'how to draw' books and the more advanced ones dealing with the esoteric details of composition, perspective and anatomy, Force: Animal Drawing is the comprehensive guide to developing artistic animals that are creative, dynamic and anatomical. Reach new heights of dramatic and visual impact by applying locomotive animal anatomy as it relates to an animating and drawing with a specific focus on force, form and shape. Gorgeously illustrated with both traditional and exaggerated observational life-drawing models, you will learn how to animate animals with vitality and movement while applying the abstract ideas of force including how gravity affects the subject you are observing. Artists and animators alike all find animal inspiration when animating characters both human and inhuman. For a unique 'larger than life' character, readers will learn to apply the unique facets of animal movement, locomotion, expressions, facial features, physical build and personality. Adapt key industry tricks and techniques to personify your animal animations with key characteristics of a specific person's face. Explore the practical application of force theories and learn from today's leading character designers with the included artist interviews and included author video tutorial, available from

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I have been illustrating professionally for 15 years. I am self taught, meaning I rely upon books and advice from peers. I've always noticed there was some elusive thin that was usually missing from my figure drawings that made them less dynamic. Burne Hogarth's books were very helpful but they didn't teach me how to get into the Flow. How to them them Go Pow! This book gives you the direction to feel out these forces and shapes. I used to think that these things couldn't be taught. When Mr. Mattesi's lessons click in your brain, you are truly feeling this power. For me, as an animator, it makes all the difference in the world."—Brian Leblanc
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780240814353
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 5/19/2011
  • Series: Force Drawing Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 615,534
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Director of the Entertainment Art Academy based in Southern California. He has been a professional production artist and instructor for almost 20 years with clients including Disney, Marvel Comics, Hasbro Toys, ABC, Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Dreamworks and Nickelodeon.

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Read an Excerpt

FORCE: Animal Drawing

Animal Locomotion and Design Concepts for Animators
By Michael D. Mattesi

Focal Press

Copyright © 2011 Michael Mattesi
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-240-81436-0

Chapter One

The FORCE Animal

There is only one anatomical structure to understand when drawing human beings. In the animal kingdom, there are many. This vast difference lead to numerous architectural iterations for the book. Other animal drawing books present their ideas on a per animal basis, but that did not make much sense to me. My focus was NOT to teach you, the reader, how to draw a bear or horse. I want you to leave this book with a broader understanding: FORCE in ALL mammals in a manner that would allow you to draw them with or without reference through the application of some simple rules. Since this book is based on the abstraction of FORCE, it made perfect sense to compose the chapters in the main three mammal locomotive classes. They are plantigrade, digitigrade, and unguligrade.

This approach was still not a simple enough manner with which to draw all mammals, so I dug deeper. My epiphany was that the main difference in these mammals is the adjustments made in their appendages or front and back legs, not in the trunk of their bodies. These changes determine how fast the animals move. In general, a plantigrade animal is much slower than a unguligrade, for example. These two animal types are designed to function against friction and gravity in two different ways.

My research led me to another incredible find, one that will change the way we perceive the animal kingdom and thus how we connect to and draw it. Join me now, through the step-by-step process I experienced to reveal this discovery.

Since I am not an animal but a human, I started with human anatomy and analyzed how it is different from an animal's. Always start with what you know. Let's go through these steps together to better help you understand my conclusions.


Let's start with the human body. For the sake of this lesson, I have numbered the FORCES in the diagram to the left to match those found in the diagram on the right. The main concept to focus on in the upright human is rhythm's functional design defined by a left-to-right motion. This motion is caused by gravity unfailingly pulling down on the human body. Our anatomy has reacted to this pull and therefore is designed to function with this invisible FORCE'S constant pull on us.

The image on the right presents the human body's FORCES horizontally. Basically, we have support against gravity in our hips and ribcage/shoulder regions. Our belly and neck/head areas hang from the supportive regions.

STEP TWO FORCE Comparison between Man and Animal

The human body is designed to stand upright. It has four major FORCES that balance out the masses of the trunk of the body. When this silhouette of FORCES is compared to an animal's, an interesting difference becomes apparent. The animal has one less directional FORCE than the human. Why does this occur? the rhythm of the animal is as follows:

1. There is an upward FORCE in the hips, similar to the human.

2. Then there is a downward FORCE in the human lower back. In the animal, downward FORCE occurs much further up the spine where the weight of the ribcage and all the animal's internal organs are pulled down by gravity. This difference will lead us to further investigation.

3. In the human, the third FORCE pushes up into the upper back, where in the animal we find our last FORCE pushes up the neck and head. So the FORCE that is missing in the animal is the upward FORCE in the shoulders and upper back. Let's take a closer look at this region of anatomy and figure out why this is occurring.


Front View Cross-Section: Man-to-Animal Comparison of Scapula (Shoulder Blade) Movement

This image compares the shoulder blades on a human versus an animal.

1. The human's ribcage is in a more horizontal alignment. The blades slide left and right along the back of the body. They can also rotate to some degree on the back's surface.

2. An animal's ribcage is primarily vertical in its alignment. This allows for the blades to slide along the long axis of its ribcage. This also stops animals from stretching their forelimbs away from their ribcage, otherwise known as brachiating.


Skeletal Differences in the Shoulder Region A few observations are of utmost importance here:

• Primates and humans have clavicles, or collarbones. The close-upimageon the bottom presents that skeletally the clavicle (attached to the ribcage), scapula, and the humerus, or upper arm bone, all lock into one another. This is VERY IMPORTANT! why?

• This image shows that if a human were to lie horizontally, similar to a push-up position, this position would affect him by skeletally supporting his ribcage and upper body because of the chain of structures we just discussed. this observation is important because if we remove the clavicle/collarbone, the scapula has nothing to attach itself to and neither does the humerus bone in the upper arm! Just to make my point clear, this means that all the weight in the front end of an animal's body is supported by the sliding scapulas and the muscles that surround them. When we, as human beings, do a push-up and position ourselves horizontally, our ribcage and internal organs are supported by the skeletal structure of the clavicle, scapula, and humerus! An animal does not possess this skeletal support!

• The ribcage and all the internal organs of the animal suspend from the two pillars of the forelimbs. This is crucial to the number of FORCES in our FORCE animal and where the FORCES are located.


Here is the silhouette of our FORCE animal. This animal is what all others will evolve from. Isn't it beautiful? perfect efficiency. The shape is broken down into three sections. Each section comprises a straight to curve shape that links up with the next one in the adjacent section. The orientation of this shape is called out with a separate illustration of a straight to curve shape. Let's discuss:

1. This area represents the upward FORCE in the hip region. This occurs here because the spine is attached to the hips. The bottom of the shape in this area offers a straight line to support the upward FORCE.

2. This section presents what we have been discussing for the past few pages. Area two represents the downward FORCE of gravity pulling on the animal's ribcage and organs. Here, the major change in FORCE compares to human FORCES. The straight line along the back shows the support needed to suspend the animal's weight from area one to area three.

3. The opposing FORCE found here lifts the animal's head through the structure of the neck. The more horizontal the animal's natural orientation, the lower on the skull the spine is attached.


Here is our first animal-to-human comparison image. The comparison images are designed to clearly present a quick snapshot of many different aspects of the specific animal. This same layout will be applied to multiple animals throughout the chapters in this book. Following are the different areas and the information they present us with:

1. The silhouette of the seal based on our FORCE animal shape with the skeletal system found within the shape. Here, we will also find the three major FORCES that define the shape.

2. Human anatomy of the rear leg and foot to compare to the animal in question.

3. A pull-down image of the seal's rear limb compared to a human's leg.

4. A pull-down image of the seal's forelimb compared to a human's arm.

5. The human arm, used to compare to the forelimb of the mammal in question.

When you're drawing animals, notice the cresting of the animal's scapula/shoulder blade beyond the top edge of the animal's body shape. This visual protrusion signals applied FORCE thrust upward by the vertical directional FORCE fighting gravity. This protrusion causes confusion among many artists between the scapula's upward FORCE and the downward FORCE in the ribcage. Yes, this upward FORCE in the shoulder region due to the lack of the scapula attachment to the collarbone creates a suspension-bridge-like schematic, but don't forget the drop of the ribcage sweeping into the neck occurring behind the scapula!

A clear example of this contrast in silhouette is a giraffe and an anteater. Giraffes eat the leaves off acacia trees. Because of this, they have a long neck and legs. Their scapulas are enormous, defining the large triangular shape of their bodies and supporting the heavy front end that they carry. The anteater, on the other hand, eats ants. Its short and stubby legs traverse over the landscape while its vacuum-like snout searches and sucks up food. Its snout curves toward the ground, not the sky. Its body silhouette, created by anatomy, derives from the animal's function.

The silhouette of an animal's trunk can drastically change based on the functional design evolved for today. The animal's environment helped mold the most efficient machines. The design of the animal's anatomy derives from eating habits and its methods of motion, protection, and hunting. This design comes from the environment: temperature, terrain, food source, and so on.

The animal's lung size legitimizes the animal's need for oxygen, which comes from its physical exertions. This size changes the silhouette.

Let's discuss the different grades of animals' locomotion, or walking. As mentioned previously, I will be using comparative anatomy throughout the entire book. So the above illustration shows the different grades based on human anatomy. This is how they function:

1. Plantigrade: These animals plant their entire hand and foot on the ground. Similar to a human being.

2. Digitigrade: The definition is that these animals walk on their toes, but I see it more as walking on the pad of the hand or ball of the foot.

3. Unguligrade: These animals walk on their fingertip or toe.

The concept above presents the following finding: height increase in the joints among different animals increases the springiness of the animal, the length of its stride, and thus the general speed of that locomotive class. Specific animals break this general rule, such as the world's fastest land animal, the cheetah. This cat lives in the digitigrade locomotive class and yet owns a top speed greater than any unguligrade class animal: A cheetah is a digitigrade and moves faster than a horse, an unguligrade.

For an animal to obtain forward movement, two directions of FORCE must take place to create a third. One direction is vertical: the legs of the creature in question must lift off the ground to allow forward movement. The second direction is horizontal: the creature must move parallel to the ground. The image above shows how mammals move forward. Forward motion is achieved through the above rhythms in the body and head by allowing for a front limb to reach out into space. The rhythms set up a canter levering between the ribcage and hips. As a corner of the ribcage tips upward (relative to this image), the arm reaches outward.

Another way to describe this follows:

1. The ribcage tilts, as presented with the gray line and arrow.

2. This movement allows the forelimb to stretch forward.

3. As the ribcage tilts, so do the hips, allowing the back legs to operate.

Let's add to the locomotive discussion with a simple observation. When a mammal walks, one side stretches open, and the other side compresses, or closes up the space between the front and rear limb.

While I was working at Walt Disney Feature Animation on The Lion King, a great concept shared among the animation team was this: when the back leg on a given side steps forward, it appears to kick the front leg on the same side forward. So, as the right rear leg closes the gap with the front right leg, it appears to kick the front leg forward. The rear leg replaces the weight the front leg was bearing by taking its place on the ground surface so the front right leg can now stride forward. This pattern occurs at opposing times on each side of the animal, allowing the animal's four legs to walk.

The above images present more information clearly illustrating a horse's walk sequence. I will use the word far for the appendages on the horse's left side and close for the horse's right side.

1–10 These images show how the far, rear leg kicks the front leg forward.


Excerpted from FORCE: Animal Drawing by Michael D. Mattesi Copyright © 2011 by Michael Mattesi. Excerpted by permission of Focal Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Key Concepts





Contrast and Affinity





Force Shape

Chapt 01 The FORCE Animal Shape

Chapt 02 Plantigrade Animals

Gorillas and Monkeys





Chapt 03 Digitigrade Animals









Chapt 04 Unguligrade Animals







Forced 05 Animals as characters

General rules of design

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