I promised to put here a list of books and websites that can helpful for drawing animals. Now, I have no idea if these are helpful or not. But I do know that when I have trouble drawing, I turn to these to get inspiration or information. So, here's a list of things that I personally find very uselful.
(EDIT: I will update this page if I find something new)
(In Finnish: Jos kirjan nimen vieressä on suomenkielinen nimi, kyseisestä kirjasta on suomenkielinen painos.)
Creature, Andrew Zuckerman
Excellent photos of different animals. Every animal is photographed against white background so you focus on the animal and the details. One of my favorite books.
Eye to Eye, Frans Lanting
Wonderful photos of all kinds of animal all over the world. This book has very good close-ups and headshots. There isn't much action in the photos, it's more a collection of animals standing, staring at the camera or walking away. However, it is still good book.
Anatomy Drawing School (suom. Anatomian piirustusopas),
Geza Feher, Andras Szunyoghy
I don't use this book so often but I would feel ashamed if I didn't mention this. An excellent book for studying human and animal anatomy. It has detailed information about bones and muscles. The book includes the following animals: horse, dog, cat, pig, monkey, sheep, bear, deer, cow, camel and lion. (Note that there's different covers for this book.)
Skeletons (suom. Luurangot), Jinny Johnson
I call this a "poor man's skeleton book." It's not as fancy as previous book but it has many well drawn skeletons of different animals (parrot, whale, lion, bat..) and basic information about them. The book that I have was printed in 1995 and I have no idea if this book has reprints. If you want a little bit cheaper but still incredible useful book about skeletons, this is for you.
Okay, I am cheating here but it is true! If I want as many pictures of certain animal as possible I turn to google. It even finds nasua nasua! What is nasua nasua? Google it!
Andrew Shek is incredible artist. His animal sketches are beautifully designed and still feel very real. He sure knows how to play with shapes. Click here for his blog!
Any document of any animal is useful. I strongly recommend BBC's documents with David Attenborough. Those documents are insanely gorgeous.
No, it's not a cheesy cartoonshow. It's a television documentary series about a man who is raising tigers and lions in big cat sanctruary called Zion Wildlife Gardens. Very good source for studying animal movement and even for drawing. The show itself isn't as exciting as it may sound but it is still guite entertaining. The show is available on DVD.
I recommend going to zoo. There's a difference seeing an animal in photo/video and in real life. You don't have to draw insanely detailed masterpieces, just quick but clear sketches. The idea is to capture animal's appearance in few pencil strokes. (If you can't afford to go to zoo, drawing ordinary animals like birds, dogs and cats is fine too!)
If you are nervous about drawing in public, take a camera with you. You can study the photos at home. Be very patient when you are taking photos. Try to think what the animal is going to do next and get ready for the shot. Take many pictures in a row especially if the animal is walking or doing something intresting.
If you think that you can't capture the movement in photos, take a video.
Go to zoo early in the morning. Most of the animals are more active that time of day. There's also less visitors at zoo. If you don't like crowds and you can't go right in the morning, go when when it is rainy or cold day. Some zoos are even open on winter (Korkeasaari for example). Avoid very sunny and hot days. Some animals won't go outside / do anything if it is too hot for them.
And now some final advices:
- Draw what interests you.
- Take your time.
- Before you draw a new animal, try to draw it from memory. I use this method because in this way you can spot the mistakes and learn much quickly from them.
- Remember the hierarchy. Draw first the most necessary parts, then add the details.
- Find out how other artist's draw. It's good to see different ways to draw the same animal. You might get inspired or even learn new methods.
- Draw everyday! This sounds cliché but it is true. Only practising you'll get better.
- Learn from your mistakes. When you are aware what is wrong with your drawing and you know what to do better next time, you will improve.