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Usual 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.


So it's time to graduate past the 100-level tutorials and start digging into the details. In the 200-level tutorials, we'll talk about musculoskeletal structure, in detail, so you can see how a centaur holds together; and in the 300-level tutorials, we'll talk about circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and excretory systems.

So this is Centaur Anatomy 201: The Leg Bones, in detail. Last time, we saw how the joints fit together in their broadest aspects. This shows how the leg bones work to form those joints.

The dotted blue arrows show which direction a given joint can generally bend.

The color codes correspond to equivalent regions on human arms or legs, for comparison:
  • Pink: Equivalent to a human shoulder or pelvis.
  • Red: Equivalent to a human upper leg or upper arm.
  • Orange: Equivalent to a human lower leg or lower arm.
  • Yellow: Equivalent to a human hand or foot.
  • Green: Equivalent to fingers or toes.

The most common mistake artists make when trying to conceive of an equine leg is to assume that the pastern is equivalent to a human foot. In reality, equines (as with most digitigrade creatures) walk on tiptoes and fingertips: The cannon is not like a shin or calf, but rather is actually a long, narrow equivalent of a human hand or foot! Once you conceive of the upper parts of the legs as being the actual leg, the entire rest of the design is actually pretty easy to understand.

So Lucy here doesn't need high-heeled shoes: Her heels are a good 18 inches off the ground whether she likes them that high or not ;)

Next time, we'll expand this drawing to include her ribcages, spine, and arms, so you can see a complete picture of how her bones fit together.
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:icongipsymoon:
Gipsymoon Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Very cool! I've been trying to figure out wings on a human so I know this isn't easy to do. :iconconfusedplz:
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:iconcyllarus:
cyllarus Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2012
PI,
With regards to LuciusAppaloosius' comment about the forelegs' need to carry more weight, I agree that the weight difference is insignificant; what is more significant is that a horse's head and neck (whose combined weight I believe you underestimated) is carried forward of the forequarters (a cantilever), whereas a centaur's torso is carried above. This means that in the horse all of that weight is carried by the forequarters, whereas in the centaur part of that weight is carried by the hindquarters; thus the centaur would not be quite as agile as the horse.
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I see your cantilever argument, but I don't really buy it; if anything, with the horse's head forward like that, more mass needs to be supported by the forelegs because the center of gravity is that much farther forward.
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:icondpragan:
DPRagan Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
Personally I have the gluts merge into where the neck on the horse is as well ;)
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:iconlittlebluemonster:
LittleBlueMonster Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2012
Btw: thank you for all of the English centaur nomenclature I have to look for at the dictionary otherwise... ;-) ;-) Great work!!
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:iconvezirax:
Vezirax Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2012
Wow have you given this alot of thought. Are you sure you weren't a biomechanical engineer in another life?
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I don't think so, but I am an engineer in this life, so that probably helps ;)
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:iconlittlebluemonster:
LittleBlueMonster Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2012
Great work. I'm waiting for all of the centaur anatomy, well!

But:
Remark: if I were a beginner, I wouldn't understand your notices (oh, this if-constructions!!! Grmbl! Wrong, isn't it?).
You mean, horse's legs are equivalent to humans (f.a.:"designed as a short human leg...") in evolution and anatomy comparing. Horses are walking on their fingers and all this infos.

You don't say, the artist has to draw the horse legs of a centaur as short human ones, don't you? A centaur has horse legs at all, not human legs (the original ancient centaur is desribed with human fore legs sometimes, so Arno Schmidt did also...). I'm a little bit confused. :-) I think, it's better, you erase the notices.
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think you're probably confused by the language difference. The text is very clear and unambiguous, if English is your first language. The text is written as a study in comparative anatomy for the needs of artists, and it works well that way. I don't see any reason to remove it, especially when others have said that they're glad to have the detail.

So no, you don't draw the equine legs like short human ones: When drawing, it merely helps to think about the relationship between the bones and how to correlate them to human bones so that you know which joints are where and how they function.
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:iconlittlebluemonster:
LittleBlueMonster Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2012
OK, you are right: English isn't my first language (and I'm still a beginner...) and therefore I was confused because you mixed comparative study between human and horse AND (on the same sheet) how to draw a centaur.
I had all this thoughts while creating my own centaurs.

Thank you for your detailed explanation. :-)
Reply
:iconluciusappaloosius:
LuciusAppaloosius Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2012
I remember it has been posited somewhere, that a centaur's foreleg bones should be slightly more robust than usual, in order to deal with the extra weight of the upper torso.... 7@=e
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
They wouldn't have to be that much stronger, to be honest.

A horse's head and neck comprise roughly 10% of the mass of a horse, so in this case, let's say Lucy-the-horse would be 500 pounds, so the head and neck are 50. So the forelegs are already supporting 50 pounds of weight there.

So now let's say that Lucy-the-human would be 120 pounds. That might even be a bit much, but it's reasonable. Human legs comprise roughly 20% of the mass of a human body, so if we subtract them away, we're left with about 96 pounds of human.

Now when you merge them together, you lose the human butt, and pelvis, and some other mass around that area, so let's take away another 10 pounds for all that, for a grand total of about 86 pounds of human.

This means that the difference between supporting the horse's head and supporting a human torso is about 30 to 40 extra pounds of weight, which, to be honest, isn't that much. The forelegs might be a little sturdier than they would be on a horse, but the extra mass is pretty small, about the same for the horse as having a five-year-old human child (which about 35 pounds) riding on the horse's back.

So when you're talking about a creature that weighs 536 pounds instead of 500 pounds, a mere 7% difference in total mass, you're really not talking about a very huge difference, not enough that you'd likely see major changes to the muscles or skeleton of the forelegs, even if you let evolution run its course.
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:icontoklio:
Toklio Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2012
this is awesome! you did a good job on this series!
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you!
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:iconggcrono:
GGCrono Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012
A lot of people draw monstergirls like regular girls in funny costumes. And then there's artists like you. Guess which ones I prefer. :D
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Mine are half-and-half, but still unified designs. And they're definitely not just a girl in a baggy brown costume.
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:iconxweetara:
Xweetara Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012
So THAT'S why there are so many joints! @.@ So the elbows and knees are way up there... Cool.
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
S'plains a lot, don't it? :)

Yep, as long as you realize where the "elbows" and "knees" and "heels" and "wrists" actually are, that will go a long way toward keeping the anatomy straight, especially since you already know (intuitively) which directions each of those joints can actually bend (on your own body).

So, for example, in this picture, the pasterns are bent forward about as far as they can go. Why? Well, try bending your fingers back, and you'll get just about that far. But that tells you also just how far backward they can bend too, just like your fingers can. Same goes for the "heel": Once you view that joint like your ankle, you know that it can bend backward until it's about straight, just like your foot can, and bend forward until it's a little past 90, just like your foot can.

Knowing these bones and joints and how they correlate to the human body will fix a lot of the worst anatomy errors you'll make, so it's worth learning them. Even if you don't get the anatomy perfect, just thinking of it this way will go a long way toward making the result "pretty close."
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:iconxweetara:
Xweetara Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012
Ah, yeah! That also puts the artists' joints into perspective. This is all starting to make sense >.<
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
All those crazy joints actually do make sense. You just have to think about them the right way. A horse has about the same joints as you do, just with all the body parts stretched a little longer or squished a little shorter.
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:iconxweetara:
Xweetara Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012
So they do XD I'm just now starting to see how they all line up, how they move and such, where they bend. Makes it /so/ much easier to draw when you actually comprehend what you're drawing ^^" Thanks for these tutorials, I know I probably said that already, but yeah XD
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
There's definitely more coming, but this one and #103 were really the critical ones for getting the most difficult parts to draw correct.
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:iconscorpio-gustavo:
Scorpio-Gustavo Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
very good and detailed
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:iconstarfighterace-421:
Starfighterace-421 Featured By Owner Aug 28, 2012  Student General Artist
I love this set you're doing :)
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