- Lesson details
In this video lesson series, expert animal draftsman and painter, Joe Weatherly, demonstrates how to construct the bones of the forelimbs. Joe analyzes the bovine, canine, equine and human forelimbs, and teaching you how to construct the pelvic area of the bovine.
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Joe Weatherly breaks down the complex subject of animal
anatomy using clear and easy to understand concepts. You will
learn how to tackle a wide range of animal types and you
will gain a methodology for quickly drawing any new animal
with confidence and force. In this lesson, Joe
demonstrates how to construct the bones of the forelimbs. Joe
analyzes the bovine, canine, equine, and human forelimbs, and
teaches you how to construct the pelvic area of the bovine.
to speak or the forelimb of an ungulate and of a carnivore. And
starting with the cow I'm going to do a bovine forearm right
now. And remember ungulates use their limbs solely as a means
of getting from one place to the other so their action is
restricted to backwards and forward movement and they only
need a simple arrangement of bones to do that. Now the
animals that start using their arms for climbing, digging,
grasping, as well as for locomotion are going to develop
a few other things that are going to be allowing them to make
those kind of motions but not for the bovine. So top - the top
of the whole deal is the starting point is the scapula.
Scapula is the shoulder blade, it's a flat triangular bone. It
has a border in the middle called the spine, which is not
very big on the cow so much bigger on a carnivore,
and the top right here
is an area that becomes
so for the bovine and for the
equine this is going to be a cartilage area and
when the cartilage is, you know, the animals no longer
around, the cartilage goes away so you see a scapula of a
bovine or an equine in the museum
it looks very squared off. But when they're living
there's a roundish
Next is the junction between the shoulder blade and the
upper arm bone. So we are calling this humerus and it is
the upper arm bone buried inside the trunk of the animal,
got to understand that. What leaves the body is the lower
arm, what we see coming out of the chest area is the forearm.
It's not the upper arm. This could be - this is equivalent to
the upper arm bone on a human where the biceps and triceps
And the point right here where this goes into the scapula
creates a very important bony landmark known as the point of
the shoulder. And the point of the shoulder is seen very well
in the construction shape of the tombstone.
That's what gives it the corner in that specific area. Okay.
Now below the humerus is a very stable bone
called the radius and behind that we have the elbow, which
is the ulna. Now again, these bones are fused together
in this type of animal.
The ulna is actually fuse to the back of the radius.
And since they're fused together,
they don't have a lot of twisting action or
pronation or supination,
which a feline obviously has a great range with.
Alright, the next mass is the wrist, otherwise known as the
carpus. In horses this is sometimes referred to as the
knee but it's not the knee at all. It's very much the
wrist if we compare it to human anatomy. And there's a series of
bones in there that stack up and then below that you get the
metacarpus. The metacarpus is,
you know, it's the top long bones of the hand before you
get to the fingers.
And then we get into the phalanges and there's three
straight into the cloven split hoof
that this animal has.
Now, this is a
extremely important. Getting this down in a rhythmical
sense. So what feeds into what. And this is more likely
how you'll be doing it when you're drawing it at a zoo, drawing
straight from life. You're not make a skeleton. This
detail, you're getting the you know, the lay in,
the rhythm. The rhythm is very important for making the arm
So you see I've drawn the the bones very simple and yet very
So putting some arrows in here saying what feeds into what.
And this is similar in almost every animal you draw, the ones
that stand on four legs.
So this is -
is bone arrangement.
Once again, this is this blue area on top of the scapula is
Okay, upper arm bone is the humerus.
The elbow is the ulna.
The big arm in the forearm or bone in the forearm is called
which is fused with the ulna.
Okay the wrist is the carpus.
Below the wrist the bones of the hand, or in this case the
And then it tapers down into the smaller phalanges.
So now let's take a comparison here and I'll draw the skeleton
or the forelimb of a dog.
Not necessarily to scale here. And this is a really big dog
compared to the cow but you get the idea. So I'm drawing the
scapula, it's a little more rounded
than say the angular long elongated flattened shape of
Okay moving down. We have the humerus.
So in the carnivora in general, the humerus is a longer bone.
More elegant looking than it is in the ox or the equine.
And it's got a relatively small tuberosity.
Radius and the ulna, now these are two separate bones in
the dog, canine.
All right, that took us into the wrist. Carpal mass.
Now the metacarpals.
And then the actual phalanges.
So the dog will have four fingers and a toe in the front,
same as a cap.
All right. Now I want to take and draw the side view of a
Forearm as it attaches with the shoulder blade.
So you see the humorous here is straighter, but it's still -
the bone arrangement is very similar.
Okay, so the fingers
just under the carpal mass, the wrist.
A separate radius and ulna.
And the scapula that lies flat across the back of the rib cage,
not on its side. That's one of the very substantial
differences in comparative anatomy.
Dog or most ungulates, scapula's on the side of the
lies across the back.
Okay, so take a look here and just you've got an example of
an herbivore, carnivore, human
bones of the forelimb.
to kind of zoom in on a couple areas that are very important
the drawing of the forelimb.
And that is the scapula, which has already been discussed, and
the humorous. But I want to go into more detail. And in this
particular case, we're going to use the horse as the subject.
Before it was the cow and the dog.
All right, so
anyways, again, the scapula is large, flat, roughly triangular
which lies on the side of the rib cage. Okay, the upper end
leans towards the spine in four-legged animals.
Scapula of a horse is definitely more elongated than
the cat, you know, the cats like I said before have a very
you know, the cartilage is different as well. So on the
top where I just marked that C, that is the cartilage.
And what I'm about to draw a right now is a long bony ridge
running along the surface
and is called the spine.
The spine is surmounted by a rough prominence, the tuberosity
on which the trapezius muscle is inserted. So that's that that
bump there in the middle and
it's very small. Well, I guess you could say on
gone or absent in the horse family, but there's a little
bit of it there.
Okay shading into areas here, the spine divides the scapula
into two unequal parts.
Okay, once again cartilage and the vertebral border of that
Okay, that is the auxiliary border. And
this is, this area right here beyond the spine,
is the infraspinatus area so
the supraspinatus above that
and the infraspinatus are
wedged in there so to speak.
Okay, so simplified cat scapula, the round one,
and a simplified bovine scapula.
All right. Now this is the portion of the scapula
hits the head of the humerus right here.
And the humerus itself is fairly consistent across most of these
animals that we're talking about, varies mostly in length and
thickness relative to the other limb bones, but in the horse
and the ox very short, longer in the carnivores.
Drawing some cross contours so we can get the volume there. it get the volume there.
And again the upper end of it articulates well with the
scapula at the shoulder joint.
Here we can see the lower arm, forearm start to take and form
underneath the humerus right there and that
long bone I'm drawing right now is the radius which is
the weight supporting bone in the four-legged animals.
It's a very strong bone in the horse.
And behind that is the ulna and that is the
bone that's fused
with the radius.
In fact the triceps on a horse, very strong muscle, conceals
that olecranon process sometimes so you have the one I'm
coloring right now that gets hidden because sometimes the
tricep muscle gets so big it just overhangs and we don't see
the elbows much but in most animals and horses when they're
you know, when they're moving, when the arm's flexed, you
definitely see it.
Okay that was a side view, now I want to take a look at
the left humerus from the front.
Now a scapula, remember it's a attached to the trunk by
There is a muscle called the serratus it forms a sling
around the rib cage. So
what it does is it allows the scapula to -
when these animals are running because there's no clavicle
there it allows the scapula to keep -
well if there's no clavicle there then they don't have to
worry about something breaking off when they land from a fall
or something like that. So and the scapula cannot be there and the scapula cannot be
attached to the rib cage. It's only held in my muscles and mostly
these serratus muscles.
So the great serratus muscle.
again as compared with the carnivore, the humerus of a
horse fairly short.
Approximately the same length as the scapula.
Minus the cartilage.
So this is the external tuberosity up here we're
And that includes part of the point of the shoulder. You're
going to hear me say that a lot. It's very important
And then of course below that from the front we're looking at
So you'll notice when I'm drawing these bones, I'm not
going into any kind of heavy rendering yet. I'm constructing
them. So I'm drawing a lot of the cross contours a lot of the
internal structure and simplifying it yet I'm still
trying to make an organic on the edges.
It's a good way to go when you're drawing skeletons.
It teaches you form, teaches you how to draw from your
Again, starting with a gesture.
Just getting a simple direction first. Okay, marking that the
front view, told you that already.
So now you'll notice I am what we're doing is a little more in
perspective here. We're taking a look at the three quarter back
view of the same setup, which is scapula,
humerus, radius, and ulna. So you'll notice how I have an
axis running through that bone so I can get the direction. Got
the three dimensional axis going around it so I can get
the volume and I'm going along the edges now. So when you do
this, you're not drawing a contour, but you're getting the -
you've already got the volume down, now you're just making
it look more lifelike and organic by getting all these
edges going on here.
On the edge there on the left, that is the tuberosity for
the deltoid and that is important for the
attachment of the deltoid. Okay. So the electron process
now the ulna, that's what we're seeing here.
And again, the only is its own bone. It looks - it gets very
sharp and tapered but then it stops
and becomes fused with the radius, but you know, it was a
special specific separate bone
and still is in the carnivores.
Okay, there's the external tuberosity,
internal condyle here. Condyles are the edges of the humerus
and those are important landmarks.
And that's the radius, the bone of support there. the the bone of support there.
And that's the internal condyles. So bone to bone. You
can see how the bone touches the other bone and the ulna or
the olecranon creates the joint.
Okay, zoning in now little bit on the carpus.
two rows, two horizontal rows of small somewhat cube like bones
ranging in different numbers. seven or eight in a horse, more in a cat or 8 and a horse more in a cat
and dog, human.
Okay, so radius, carpus and then below that is the metacarpus.
So I like to simplify those into a mass. You got to see it
as a separate shape, but know that when the arm bends that
bends with it, so I'm going to go ahead and draw some of these
cube like shapes in here just because we're doing the
Never a bad idea to draw it. Just know that when the - when
you're seeing the real horse, you're seeing a lot of - there's
also tendons and things that run through and over that area
that you got to compensate for in the external view.
Okay, so let's simplify it and call it the wrist even though
horse people like to call that the knee. It's truly the
When a horse flexes its arm, you can see three distinct
forms in that area.
And this was the front view.
If we take a look at that wrist from the side
we see an accessory carpal bone coming out the back. That's
small bone like the hook that's coming off the back is.
That's on an angle slightly lower in the back. That's the
And then the true anatomical wrist, which is the carpal
That's upper row and lower row, two rows.
Now the accessory carpal bone in the back is normally
referred to as the the pisiform bone. In case you see that
differently in some books.
There is a splint there that's between - that's the metacarpal,
small metacarpal bone, but there's a split and it's a
ligament that goes up into that pisiform bone.
That's a very strong noticeable bone in the horse by the way.
Okay. So we've zoned in on a few areas. Side view, front view
of the wrist, saw the scapula and took a look at that
humerus and a bit of the radius and the ulna from three
different views. So now you're all set when you draw for some
still life at the museum or whatnot.
hand so to speak or the lower areas, the metacarpals. First I
think it would be kind of nice to compare the hand of a human
to the other types of animals that we're going to compare, the
dog and cow,
so we can better relate the function and the form of the
hand to a paw or to a hoof or to any other animal's, you know,
Okay, so I laid in a little bit of the radius and the ulna. Now
I have a wrist mass, a carpal area. And from that I've sort
of fanned out with some lines that are directional lines for
the fingers. Now what's happening up here at the top is
a series of bones that fan out from beyond the wrist called
And the metacarpals basically formed the body of the hand, the
palm and the back of the hand.
In fact, the hand really bends at the knuckles on a human.
So those metacarpals are sort of
not really the bending point but it's the lower area, the
topside, the knuckles is where the bend actually is.
Okay, and the metacarpals vary in relative by the size.
Some are shorter, some are longer.
Okay, but in drawing this hand, this is a very just straight on
view of a hand. It's important to get these arcs. So you
notice that I've drawn some curving lines across certain
areas. That way I keep things lined up again, very simplified
Just trying to get the point across but you want to make
sure that the proportions or the arcs of the joints
are we where they should be. Okay, thumb has two joints. So
that's going to be shorter
then the other four fingers.
So the fingers themselves have three joints in them. These are
And think about this hand pressed onto the ground and
pushing your weight on all the - on the pads of the fingertips.
That's how most of your carnivores are standing
with the thumb raised above ground line.
Okay, so I want to do some marks, make some marks here with
Showing some tendon direction.
Okay again human hand. Now
over here, we'll take and compare this to the hound of -
excuse me the hand of a hound or dog.
Okay, radius and ulna yes, indeed we do have a little
of the radius and the ulna.
With the ulna dragging down slightly on the outside.
So in the carnivores, the carpal carpal bones are
arranged in two rows just like we saw in the horse.
has a bone, couple bones that are fused together making it a
single bone, but it's you know, basically a group of bones with
So this is the example that I wanted you guys to
see where I keep saying that this is the wrist area of an
and there it is compared to the human, truly the carpal carpal
mass is the wrist.
All right now the phalanges again,
relative by size, some being absent, some being fused
Dogs and cats have five, as do humans.
With the first one reduced substantially and the second
and fifth reduced slightly.
First meaning the thumb.
Okay, except for that first digit, the thumb, each finger
typically contains three phalanges.
Okay, and this is a pretty much straight on view,
with the toes and the nails included.
All right, so three phalanges on four of those toes.
Two in the thumb and five metacarpals.
Looks very similar if we take a look side-by-side to the human
it looks very similar to the construction of a man's hand.
All right. Now we go to an animal that has
the metacarpals have essentially been grouped
together. So this is the ox or the cow and there's the wrist.
We've drawn the radius and the ulna
being fused together.
And as we come down into
the middle here, see what's going on with the ox is
that the metacarpals in the middle are the third and the
the second and fifth are basically just really small tubercles,
bumps that are at the top there which provide anchors for
muscle attachment. Okay. So this is how you can see how
these phalanges with their three digits come down, split,
and become the cloven hoof of the cow.
Okay shading in that
double section, the two rows which I've drawn is one
of the carpus there.
And now the construction of the hoof, so what I'm doing is
thinking about drawing it made out of 3D volume. So I have a
spherical volume at the base where it turns and then
remember these phalanges, these toes, or this one toe is going
to be hidden deep inside, buried inside the hoof.
So this is the outer wall of the hoof.
Coming in from the inside now, I'm
showing those phalanges the three joints as they come into
the hoof and the hoof is basically related to fingernail
material on a human. So that is what's covering all of that
bottom hoof right there.
So you can see from the front now it's same kind of
construction just turning the forms.
Hooves are actually the easiest to draw so no
one has an excuse for putting grass around a horse's foot
when they're drawing and painting them.
I mean it's okay to do that sometimes but you should
understand the construction of the foot itself, the hoof
being much easier to draw than say the foot or the paw a lion or
So I'm drawing all the way through, thinking about the
at the base of the
And now let's take a look at a paw
get the construction of the paw but
thumb on the inside,
metacarpal mass shooting through the middle, fanning out.
O,kay, and because
two middle metacarpals
numbers three and four, are the longest and descending lower than the
adjacent ones, what this does is it causes the first phalanges
of the toes, like number three and four, to lie more
horizontally than the other ones next to it which sloped
downward so that pushes
the middle two toes out more.
So just think about it this way on a dog or a cat. The toes
on the outside that are counting the thumb are pushed further
back than the toes and the middle two toes in the middle
stick out the most.
there you have some close-ups here and some
construction views of the hands, hooves, paws,
bones of the forelimb focusing on the wrist, metacarpals, and
Okay, those stick out even more than the other two.
And then that'll do it for this one.
and we'll basically take the cow again,
draw a three quarter back view so that we can study how
the cow's shapes, the bovine shapes, look in this particular
So what I'm doing is laying in a series of scribbly shapes,
And that box there was a kind of get the pelvis shape
situated because it is a very downward-sloping type of shape
for the pelvis and the whole hindquarters in general
and then pull the legs off of that. How do I want the legs?
Coming back up under the stomach.
Hitting the shoulder mass and thinking where is the head
going to be? How's it going to look?
Straightforward and maybe indicate a few of the big
things like horn placement, ear placement, and a very your placement in a very
general way meant to be changed if necessary.
And then finally the front legs.
So when I'm looking at the drawing here, I'm thinking
well the side view or the front view of the head and all
the head construction that I know
is going to have to come in handy now for seeing this in a
three quarterback way, which means it's very foreshortened.
We see only part of the jaw, we see underneath the chin
underneath the face so to speak, and the sloping nasal plane is
foreshortened somewhat, neck is going to cover the back of the
the cheeks a little bit. And then there's going to be,
you know, the occipital ridge right here. So one
one horn is going to be a little smaller as it goes away
from us, one's going to be a little bigger as it gets closer
And then the ear is going to be - that's the most - sometimes you
got to go for the best silhouette and that's probably
going to be the best choice for the ear to have it, just like
Not quite covering the eye but in front of the horn.
So in other words we are - the first pass was the gesture. The
first pass was the getting the action and now the second pass
getting the construction of the basic shapes in a very general
And that can't be enforced too much or repeated too many times
in the course of this class. General to specific, very
Okay, the box of the pelvis, what it indicates we'll get to
a little bit later.
But as you can see we have shape. So what is in front of
what is what you want to be thinking with some
foreshortening or drawing something in perspective, in
this particular case pelvis shape is in front of the torso.
That is in front of
the shoulder mass which is in front of the neck and that is a
front of the head.
And then a line underneath the feet or the hooves,
coming back one on each side will give you an idea how to
keep your foot placement in check. Okay, let's do a little
So now I am redefining the jaw, thinking underneath the jaw, how
we see that sort of like a disc shape and then one connects to
And in the middle of that there's a throat muscle that
leads us into the neck
in the hyoid area of the
bottom of the neck there.
Okay, remember the mouth we drew on the cow from the three quarter
front, very boxy, and you got to ask yourself what does that
look like from three quarter back? You know, you got
to take your best stab at it unless you have a model in
front of you, but you should be able to turn those forms if
you don't have a model in front of you or if you don't have any
reference, but it's that same wide boxy mouth that is just
looked at now from a different angle. So that's the magic
right there if you want to be able to draw from your
imagination more you need to be able to memorize and
relocate these shapes so to speak so
I guess the proper term would be to visualize, that's what you
want to do is visualize these shapes from any angle. So if
you saw from the front, you should really draw it from a
based on just that one view you already learned.
Same goes for any part of the body. Okay, getting the volume
of that horn. So how the horn is fitting into the skull right
here. Remember the horns are part of the skull on a cow.
Not only do I want to have good rhythm in the horns, but I also
want to have
the structural quality of the ellipses, the base of the horns.
Okay here I'm going to make the ear very
strong at its you know, as it comes out of the root
underneath the horn you have a cylinder and then you have this
ear fanning out. It's a large area on a bovine.
And it takes some sort of a paddle shape.
Indicate the ear on the other side just a little bit.
Okay. So you notice how the neck is very narrow at the base
of the head and some of the muscles take and round off
And trapezius actually is creating a lot of that and then
it's almost like a triangle that comes out and it
fans out and becomes broader at the base. Remember, we're
not seeing all of the neck. This is not a side view. A
little bit of that neck is disappeared foreshortened
behind the tombstone shape or the shoulders, shoulder mass.
All right the sternum
sticks out quite a bit below the tombstone shape.
Okay, so I'm thinking round here, drawing all the way
through how is this torso,
you know, dimensional? It's very round and things that go on it
go with the direction of the form.
Okay, there's the straightness of the back. Now remember the
horizontal area on the side view of the bovine shows a very
horizontal look to their back, doesn't dip in as much as a
Tricep shape right here in the back
just indicated as a volume, but it's going to become a tricep
later on. So that's how you gotta start thinking, like
you're throwing clay on this thing, like in masses.
Okay, so I'm dropping in a few other shapes here,
refine the front legs a little bit, draw in the utters and
coming in now and trying to refine the tail
flows over the sacrum like this.
Okay marking landmarks. It's key to proportions.
All right ankles knocked in that shape to the calcaneus. Now
going in for some simple volumes for the hoof.
Split hoof from the three quarter back view.
Let me zoom in now and take another look here at some of
the arm and
All right, so
going over the basic shapes there, making things organic, covering
the wrist, getting the ulna.
And down here into the metacarpals.
Ellipse is very important at this point, especially with
animals with hooves, one or two,
draw the ellipse all the way through from the back to the
front. It gives you the girth of the weight of the hoof.
you know, bones that stick out of the back there. You see
those a lot on cows and goats.
I want to get those indicated, right behind the joint there
above the hoof
And crossing over to the other side, doing the same thing.
See how short the forearm is on the bovine. And then we have a
very even shorter metacarpal that's sort of turning away
And often in perspective there, so it's not just - it's slightly
turned out. Not too much because they don't have a radius and
they can't twist their foot too much but
you don't want to make it look too straight against the other
one on the other side.
Okay. So now what I want to do,
indicate a little bit of the skeleton again with a different
color and I want to draw in and a very loose simplified way the
pelvis as it
tips downward we see some of the landmarks.
And that is why the box has the landmarks that it has.
Remember the box gives you the corners of the forms.
So here I'm indicating the ischium.
This is how the pelvis opens up in the middle.
Sacrum goes through and over.
Then there's an opening for the ball and socket joint of the
Okay those are the great trochanter of the femur.
Remember that, that's the really bony, knobby
area that is on the edge of the femur. And that's a landmark as
it presses against the side of the thigh right there.
Okay, so one femur, foreshortened, twisted slightly to the side
and it's coming up against the lower leg here
the fused tibia and fibula and that goes right in there to the
of the heel.
Again notice how as a slight knock healed effect on the
Animals can do this not to a crazy extent but you know, it
adds a little spice and variety to the drawing if you don't
make the leg so even.
Okay, top of that box, iliac crest, very important landmark.
As is the ischium, which I'm darkening in the back right
So that pelvis better fit in that box somewhat,
pretty close. So it's a good idea when you're drawing these
boxes later on, maybe take some drawings that you didn't like
so much or just some experiments and see if you can
get the the pelvis in there to fit into look right in
Same thing with the femur. So the femur should come down at
an angle and when it stops, it should terminate into an area
for the patella and also for the lower leg which is going to
be the tibia fibula fused together.
Okay, I want to see this is a very solid
we're going to construct this bone as having some corners.
It's very round at the top.
But I'm going to put a line in here and treat like a box.
So it's got a side and a back.
Put some organic knobs on the edge of the femur here on the
Okay, same thing here.
Takes us into the heal. Achilles tendon would be on top of he's tendon would be on top of
Okay, tail, drawing through, thinking about the animal made
out of glass, getting the very round
Going over those tail vertebrae.
Okay, so that split is the not only the middle of the body
there, but it's also an indicator of some important
And notice that we're drawing again in perspective. So the
thigh on the left is bigger than the thigh on the right.
And as those hamstrings come down as split.
So I'm giving you a little bit of muscle in this one too. It
goes over the calf shape.
Sinks in right there a little bit for the front of the thigh.
And again, it's not a bad idea to shade this. So we see the
corners of the form better.
All right indication of the rib cage.
And the rest of the spine as it backs up into the head.
Dips in slightly near the scapula's
All right. So let's finish up here with
analysis of how these bones come together in the
lower foot here.
The metatarsals we're dealing with now and those are similar
in shape to the cannon bones in the front.
Again, get the ellipse go around.
Get the back of that hoof, clearly want to show back and
Alright now working my way down this bone.
Get the calf mass, a split in the hamstrings as the
hamstrings grab the gastrocnemius,
shoot down even lower
past the ankle joint, and into the flushing out of the hoof so
In a simplified way.
Okay, so that's going to do it for the three quarterback
Free to try
1. Lesson Overview48sNow playing...
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2. Forelimbs11m 30s
3. Forelimbs Continued15m 54s
4. Bone Construction11m 50s
5. Bovine Pelvic Construction20m 8s