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(Contains: nudity)


Okay, so it's time for some arguin'.

A lot of people have asked me over the years things like:
  • What do you think are the correct proportions on a centaur?
  • How do you think a centaur's muscles and skeleton are arragend?
  • How would a centaur eat and breathe?
  • Where are the lungs? The heart? The kidneys?
  • How does the reproductive equipment work?


So let's start with a disclaimer: These are my opinions! There is no real physical centaur to compare against, so the best I can do is make an educated guess. If you prefer a design other than this, that's fine, but this is what I'm going to keep drawing. If you disagree, fine, but do so politely, and above all, please don't ask I draw things your way. I know how I think it'd work, and that ain't gonna change.

Now, getting into the meat of the first anatomy picture here, these two pictures show how I think the proportions work best. The blue lines are equal, and the red lines are equal; and the ratio between them is more-or-less phi, which results in proportions that look fairly natural, since so much in nature is based on that same ratio. When I draw, I'm generally eyeballing the picture to try to get the L-part to have equal lengths and to get the lower half roughly square.

A real live horse is a bit longer than square, but shortening the barrel to square seems to work better on a centaur. (See this photo for comparison; the ratio of Reggie's length to his height looks to be approximately phi, not 1:1 like Lucy here.)

So that's that. Feel free to argue the point, but please be civil.

If anybody's enjoying the start of this series, I'll keep doing a new centaur anatomy lesson every few days. So if I were to do more, which would you most like to see next? Muscles? Skeleton? Nervous system and brain? Digestive system? Respiratory system? Circulatory system?

And yes, I know reproductive system would be a popular topic, but even if I can get it past the dA censors, I'm still going to make you wait for it :P
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:iconmarscaleb:
Marscaleb Featured By Owner May 11, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
This is an absolutely FANTASTIC reference! But ah... do you think you could post another version where she is wearing a bra, or something?
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner May 11, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Why?
Reply
:iconmarscaleb:
Marscaleb Featured By Owner May 18, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Because the current version shows a bit more nudity than I am comfortable with, but otherwise I'd love to save this as a reference.
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:iconyooyoo180:
yooyoo180 Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2014
Wrong anatomy !
Reply
:iconcentaur71:
Centaur71 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2014
looks about right to me; that's how I'm proportioned...
Reply
:iconpatchi1995:
Patchi1995 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2014
How big do your centaurs? Can be miniature, who are half-halfling and half-mini-horse? And can be dwarven, who are half-dwarf and half-pony? Can be lesser-giant, who are quarter-giant and quarter-light-draft-horse? And a giant, whose half-giant and half draft-horse? Can they be smaller as halflings, or human-sized, or making humans the size at the female centaur's human shoulder?
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:iconpatchi1995:
Patchi1995 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2014
..or even it's lower body is from the size of a horse to bigger?
Reply
:iconpatchi1995:
Patchi1995 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2014
Can I favorited some of your how to make a centaurs to Your How-To-Make-a-Centaur? It's from my favorites.
Reply
:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I don't understand what you're asking.
Reply
:iconjdailey1991:
Jdailey1991 Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2014
If a centaur mare has the rear end of a horse, shouldn't that be where the mammary glands are?
Reply
:iconyooyoo180:
yooyoo180 Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2013
The human torso is of the same size of a regular human, but their hips are very large and curvy, their breasts are larger than the human ones due to high estrogen activities (on a short note the human torso is smaller in comparison of the horse body), their butts are rounder and slightly bigger than a regular horse and their legs are solid and a combination of atletic and curvy, the horse ovaries provides potent hormones "conjugated equine estrogen" the most powerful form of female estradiol. Their digestive system is extremely efficient they can absorb practically 95 percent of every bit of vitamins, minerals and other macronutrients vs. that of a regular horse or human digestive system, hence they can eat regular veggie meals and drink large amount of water (the water absorbed is properly maintained due high sodium level), therefore reducing thirst and hunger. These creatures possess two pairs of lungs (human and horse) that provides them incredible high Vo2 max when running for long periods of time. Centaurs possess two hearts that provide optimal vascular power. These creatures only have their mare reproductive organs, they human ones are incomplete and posses the pair of ovaries, which provides more hormones. Their physical strength is higher than of a regular human, but no higher of a strong-human I.e. strongmans, but the legs of these creatures are way more powerful than those of said strongman and slightly thicker and said curvy than those of a regular horse. Their feminine and athletic bodies are pear shaped and well put together.
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Grammar Natzee: Wall O' Text by dinyctis
Reply
:iconfueledbypartii:
FueledbypartII Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I did something similar in a joking tone
I'd like your opinion ^ ^

[link]

and this


[link]
Reply
:iconcyllarus:
cyllarus Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2012
PI,
Your proportions look pretty good to me, but I have a suggestion and a comment:

Suggestion: A horse's ribcage is deeper vertically than your drawing, which is what probably prompted CKentavr's spouse's comment about the legs being too long.

Comment: There seem to be two "species" of centaurs: the ancient Greek, whose proportions are much like a human/pony amalgam, and whose withers are approximately at the same height as a human's (q.v. the centaurs of the Parthenon frieze); and the more modern species, whose proportions are more human/horse, with withers around 4--5 feet.
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm aware that a horse's ribcage tends to be larger, but we're not talking about a horse or a human here: We're talking about an amalgam of both, and for the proportions to work well, the lower ribcage needs to be a bit smaller. My centaurs are proportioned much closer to the Greek centaurs you describe than to those of humans on horseback.
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:iconcoralwerks:
Coralwerks Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've seen skeletal drawings of mermaids [link] and centaurs [link] on dA before, including a few that try to depict the organs [link] - but I have reservations about calling them "lessons".

My general rule(s) of thumb when drawing centaurs have been simply:

-The horse body should be large enough to at least support a rider (which was mostly driven by a story point), and
-if the proportions generally look equal, and no part seems too large or too small in relation to the other, it'll probably work.

Other than that, as with any fantasy creature, the sky's pretty much the limit.

I've had some interesting discussions regarding the anatomy of fantasy creatures that exhibit human characteristics over the years. Not to present those viewpoints in any sort of scientific or "official" way, but most people I've talked to see creatures like this and tend to "think human". That is, they tend to think of these creatures as two separate halves of a whole (a human stuck to a fish or a horse, for example), rather than a creature that evolved this way. So if a human or horse or fish looks a certain way, their fantasy counterpart surely must share those traits, too. That's where I start to have issues.

For the sake of argument, lets talk about a mermaid. First, define what a mermaid is, and then we'll talk about anatomy. Sounds simple, but it isn't. Over 40+ years, I've seen tons of representations of mermaids. Not all of them fit nicely into the "human upper part/lower fish part" variety. Some are very human, others are very fish-like... and every variation in between. One that I saw years ago depicted a very human-like female that looked "normal" in every regard except she had a fish tail that replaced her hair. Nevertheless, the artist clearly labeled her a "mermaid". Her anatomy is likely going to be significantly different than say, this [link] or this [link] will have. None of them are any more "correct" than any other. I can appreciate their anatomy (whatever it may be) "works" for them without having to wonder if her innards work (or even look) like ours. I don't think they can or even should.

Consider a person born with sirenomelia (or "mermaid syndrome") for a moment. So-called "Wolf people" aside, and while not an actual mermaid, this is about as close a real-world example of what happens if human anatomy deviates a little too much from the norm as I can think of with regards to a having a fantasy-world counterpart. Its usually fatal within a few days because certain organs (particularly the kidneys and the bladder) have abnormal functionality and/or development. So I have issues with the notion one can simply stick a human body to an animal one as-is and expect it to function. But who is to say an actual mermaid's internal organs would be even remotely similar to our own? She may have organs that serve a similar function but which may not look anything their real-world counterparts.

The tl:dr version (and not directed at anyone in particular): don't complain to an artist that "nature would/wouldn't do this" when they draw a mythical creature that has human-like characteristics. I don't care if you have a Phd in biology, biological accuracy isn't why most of us draw them. Are they biologically improbable/impossible? Of course they are, but if I want my mermaids to have larger eyes and pupils and slits for nostrils, I'll do what I can to make them fit in the skull - but don't complain that her face isn't "human" enough looking. I'm not drawing a human stuck to a fish--I'm drawing a mermaid as I envision them; a creature that exists in her own right.

Oh, and I like my centaurs' ears on top of the head -- not on the sides.

</soapbox rant>

Having said all that, I will admit to one bout of critical thinking when I was presented with an explanation of how a mermaid reproduced in a work of fiction. Piers Anthony in Mercycle had characters wonder about this in the text--sometimes openly. Now, the mer-people in the novel were genetically altered humans, but one passage made me wince. I don't have the novel in front of me at the moment, but to paraphrase; the main character observes the mermaid bend at the waist and notes the scales sliding apart and revealing that "it was all there." Which had me wondering what happens when a mermaid and a merman are making out and she suddenly decides to straighten out... :omfg:
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
O_o

Anyway...

These are purely lessons in how mine are designed. You're quite welcome to disagree with my designs; but a lot of people have asked me over the years how mine work, so I figured it was time to explain it.

Also, this is the first I've seen sirenomelia, and geez, what a sad condition. Yet another reminder that genetics and reproduction is fraught with far more dangers than we like to consider.
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:iconcoralwerks:
Coralwerks Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm not disagreeing with them. They're as valid as any other. The point of my admittedly long-winded reply was the difficulty in defining these sorts of things because there are just too many ways to do them.

And you did want a discussion. ;)
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:iconchimera-gui:
Chimera-gui Featured By Owner May 7, 2013
Perhaps I could give you a discussion.

The problem with ears on top of the head is that the ear bones originally came from the jaw bones so there is a limit to how high you can realistically postion them as shown here.

Basically, while some may find them aesthetically pleasing (though personally I don't the appear), they make no sense functionally.
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:iconcoralwerks:
Coralwerks Featured By Owner May 8, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The problem I have always had with these sorts of arguments is that most of those who make them use a normal human skeleton when defining their reference point. My argument is that you can't do that when dealing with any fantasy creature. We aren't dealing with a human anatomy stuck to whatever it is we're depicting no matter how familiar the features. I don't care if the person making the argument has a degree in biology, my response is always going to be the same: this isn't biology. This is fantasy. We can (and do) use existing biology on which to base our inspiration, but that is as far as it goes.

I feel that I phrased my original comment poorly. I have no qualms about depictions like the ones Phantom Inker has shared with us here. He hasn't made any claim of being an expert on the subject and I find them interesting interpretations of what might be. The reason this subject gets under my skin, however, is that I've had people claim to me that they are and that was the point I was trying to make. If anybody argues that some fantasy creature would or wouldn't have this or that feature, I'm going to ask for the science paper based on the biological examination of whatever creature it is we're dealing with to prove it. Not a theoretical examination - an actual examination so that we can all draw it the way it actually exists. Otherwise, no one is an "expert" on any of these creatures and that is one of the beautiful things about them -- everyone is free to interpret them however they please and no one person's vision is any less valid than the next person's vision... no matter how fantastic.

The point is that there is no right or wrong way to depict a mermaid, centaur, faerie, werewolf or whatever. There can't be. I don't expect everyone (or anyone) to agree with how I depict a mermaid or a centaur. I'm fine with that. Nevertheless, there is no way I would accept someone scientifically explaining to me why such and such "can't happen" or "wouldn't make sense" because a) of course it can't (its fantasy, after all) and b) it ventures dangerously close to someone imposing their view of what is "right" on mine and I'm not going to let anyone do that.

I do appreciate your input, however. :)
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:iconchimera-gui:
Chimera-gui Featured By Owner May 8, 2013
My comment about ear bones applies to all mammals, even horses.

My problem with the "This is fantasy" argument is that it should only be used sparingly do to suspension of disbelief. When one overuses it, it starts to lose its validity so it shouldn't be relied on too heavily.

You are right in that there is technically no right or wrong way to depict a fantasy creature but striving for believability is the ideal.

Hell, I saw a mantis inspired centaur and it was executed in a believable fashion.
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:iconcoralwerks:
Coralwerks Featured By Owner May 8, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
"My comment about ear bones applies to all mammals, even horses."

I'm not drawing a horse. I'm drawing a centaur. Whether I am drawing a mammal or not is a matter of debate. I'm certainly drawing something that looks and acts mammalian, but If the argument is anatomical realism, then by the same line of reasoning no one should be drawing mermaids with scales, because none of the mammals have scales. I'm fully aware that some are depicted without them - but no one who draws them that way has any right to tell the people who do that theirs is the 'more correct' way of doing it because that is the way 'nature intended it'.

What label other than fantasy do you wish to propose we use for creatures that otherwise can't exist? I am not overusing the term. Its the realm they belong to. There's no such thing as a semi-fantastical centaur.

As far as execution goes (and I'm assuming artistic ability isn't what is being argued here), I find it difficult to accept how anyone would complain about the placement of a centaur's ears while still accepting the rest of the package. That's like complaining a faerie can't fly because her wings are either too small or because there is no mechanism in the human body that can power them. Even if I depicted the muscles that make them work, you could always argue they aren't realistic for a human body no matter how well I might execute them. No pun intended, but where is the line going to get drawn?

It is, and always will come down to personal preference and artistic choice... not a scientific one.
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:iconchimera-gui:
Chimera-gui Featured By Owner May 8, 2013
You're ignoring a key point I made, any creative endeavor is only successful to the extent that the audience offers this willing suspension as they read, listen, or watch.

You're correct in saying that centaurs are already difficult to justify. Fairies however would actually be more believable than bird-winged humanoids since insect wings are on the animal's back to begin with whereas bird wings are not.

A work does not have to be realistic, only believable and internally consistent.
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(1 Reply)
:iconanti-tanx:
anti-tanX Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012
What does the pic mean by L-shape and H-shape? I don't understand only this part.

By the way, I think it's excellent that you made this. (both the fact that you decided on specifics for centaur proportions, and for sharing them)
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Uh, I thought that was pretty obvious. The upper body is shaped like a capital letter "L", where both lines are the same length, resulting in a very square-shaped "L". The lower body is shaped like the bottom of a capital letter "H", where the three lines are the same length.
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:iconckentavr:
CKentavr Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
I like a smaller horse to human, but we discussed that. I like that you've gotten some design ideas down for consistency.

Of course, individuals will violate these rules to some extent.
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I find these proportions work well. It's what I've been drawing for years; I just finally documented it so you could all see that's what I was doing.

Other proportions could probably work, so long as you follow the rule of phi; I just think this particular arrangement comes out especially well, so it's what I draw.
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:iconckentavr:
CKentavr Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012
I like it. My spouse says your legs come out too long.
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think they're just right, but to each their own. And what's wrong with a girl with long legs, anyway? :-)
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:iconckentavr:
CKentavr Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2012
I dunno, she married me, after all ^-^
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:iconsomeguy987:
someguy987 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
Sounds about right
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:iconjwb083:
jwb083 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
This is a good referance to go by for artists trying to draw taurs.
Reply
:iconvezirax:
Vezirax Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
Fun series. I'd like to see the cardiopulmonary system, actually. I, personally, don't believe that one heart and two lungs would be able to get enough oxygen throughout a centaur's body quickly enough to keep them alive. At the very least, they'd be moribund and sluggish from low oxygen flow. How do you think (if you think this) a system of two hearts and four lungs would work? Or, possibly, a system of one heart/two lungs in the "human" half and an extra heart in the "horse" half to keep blood pressure up? This last possibility is the most "likely" to me, as any lungs located in the "horse" half would cause problems with in-breathes getting bottled up against out-breaths - think how hard it is to breathe through a snorkel - now imagine a four foot long snorkel).
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Similar to what you described, I see the majority of organs in the lower half, with the upper half only having a few redundant organs as absolutely necessary.

So there is a duplicate smaller heart in the upper half to ensure the brain stays oxygenated even under high stress. And much of the torso contains a duplicate set of lungs whose sole responsibility is to avoid the snorkel problem: They pull in the air and just pass it on to the bigger lungs below, and they help push back out the exhale; they don't absorb the oxygen themselves and not connected directly to the bloodstream: They're just extra pumps to make moving that much air easier, particularly considering the relatively small size of the nose that they have to pump that much air through.
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:iconuncle-ben:
Uncle-Ben Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
More of this, please.

My interest is in al the answers to all of these questions, but I lean at the moment toward eating. But do them in any order.
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:iconggcrono:
GGCrono Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
Education!

A friend of mine once theorized that a centaur would need two hearts. After all, they're not half-and-half, they're more like half a human and three-quarters of a horse. That's a lot of moving parts.
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:iconchaoswolf1982:
chaoswolf1982 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I believe that friend was me.

The human-torso's heart would basically work like a stress-regulator to keep the higher blood-pressure produced by the stronger horse heart from rupturing the brain's vessels.

I also suggested that they would have two pairs of lungs, too - smaller "voice" lungs in the human torso that basically stored a small portion of air for speaking with, and larger "work" lungs in the horse one that actually fueled the body as a whole.
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:iconggcrono:
GGCrono Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
So it was! Thanks for the reminder.
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:iconagent505:
Agent505 Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012  Professional Writer
She looks naturally porportioned enough to me.
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:iconcaptainface:
Captainface Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
I'd wanna see all the systems.

I also suggest doing one for cecaelias
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:iconxweetara:
Xweetara Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
Skeleton sounds incredibly interesting, as do the various systems. I'd definitely love to see more of this, as I've just started teaching myself to draw centaurs (very much inspired by your work ^^") and I need all the help I can get >.<
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, that's why I'm drawing these! In the process of studying to draw centaurs, I've learned equine anatomy better than I'd expect, and I figure that information is worth sharing.
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:iconworld-of-zekira:
world-of-zekira Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2012
Oh definitely put more like this up!

Given that the World of Zekira rpg does have similar things, I've already done some work of my own with things like digestion and reproductive issues, etc. Good work!
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