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
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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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these are simply my
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you should agree or
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See the light and
in photography is a
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More