When drawing animals, the biggest problem is that they won't oblige you by staying still, so drawing them from life is quite difficult. It is really easiest to photograph them and then to work from the snaps you have taken.
The best place to start is with the insect world because the creatures are relatively small and not too complicated in shape. csually, when it comes to insects, museums hold dozens of drawerfuls of them, and it is not too difficult to make quite careful drawings on the spot.
Probably the next easiest is the sea world, with fish of all sorts and sizes. Again, they have simpler shapes than land animals and are quite wide-ranging in colour and pattern. A local aquarium, or someone you know who keeps fish in a tank, can be good for first-hand reference material and, of course, all that swimming around makes the creatures more vivid than using a photographic reference.
When you progress to animals on land, there are reptiles, mammals and birds in multifarious shapes, colours and sizes. Observe how the various species have similarities as well as differences, and this should make it easier.
As an artist you will probably want to try your hand sooner or later at a really large creature such as an elephant or rhinoceros. If you cannot reach a zoo easily, then a visit to your local natural history museum can be very instructive. Take your sketch book and draw the stuffed or reconstituted animals on show. Their bird collections are frequently comprehensive too.
Once familiar with the shapes of your chosen animals, the next task is to convey some semblance of movement. Several famous artists are renowned for their animal pictures and it's helpful to examine their work.
You can experiment right from the start with techniques for getting the animals to appear more convincing; a drawing doesn't have to be precise in order to create the feeling of an animal in action. An expressionist technique is more likely to conjure up the essence of the animal than a careful, detailed drawing. But whatever you draw from the immense range of animal life, have fun experimenting with various ideas and effects.
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