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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > April 19 > The lower limbs and feet

The lower limbs and feet

Ruth Buchanan describes the main feet forms found in animals and shows you how to draw them correctly


Shoulder In (detail), pastel, 181⁄2x111⁄2in (47x29cm)

Animal feet and lower limbs seem to be a challenging feature for many artists. It is easy to fudge the issue, hiding the feet in grass or foliage or simply not draw or paint them at all. If we do attempt them, it is easy to mis-read references, seeing shadows as toes or toes as shadows.

A little knowledge of structure can help: there are four main types of animal feet forms (although there are other variants in insects and aquatic creatures): pads without claws (more like hands); pads with claws; toes with talons; hooves. In these four main types the digits (fingers or toes) are comprised of bones called phalanges. Evolution has reduced the number of digits in some animals, so knowing the number of digits is a good start to knowing the animal, and therefore drawing it correctly.

Ruth Buchanan studied and worked in graphic design and illustration, then taught Print Media and Film Studies at a Further Education College. She exhibits nationally and internationally, and her equine, animal and figurative work features in private and corporate collections both in the UK and abroad. Ruth is a member of the International Watercolour Society (England), the Society of Equestrian Artists, the Association of Animal Artists and a Signature Member of the Institute of Equine Artists. Ruth will be teaching at Pure Artwork Studios, Oxfordshire in March and April. For details see

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About The Artist

Welcome to the April issue, packed with practical articles and demonstrations designed to inspire artists of all levels to develop their skills in all media. Our top artist-contributors this month include Hazel Soan, who suggests techniques for creating light and shade in your watercolours, Ian Sidaway who encourages you to paint a self-portrait, and Paul Talbot-Greaves who shows how to paint colourful boats in three easy stages in acrylics. Practise your skills as you learn how to loosen up and be more expressive in your drawings, use coloured pencils to create a found still life, simplify a busy harbour scene to create a composition full of light and colour, and achieve clean colours in your acrylic landscapes. This issue we also welcome back Geoff Hunt, who begins a new series documenting the results of his painting trips. Plus Roger Dellar offers tips on how to secure an artist-in-residence position and Mark David Hatwood explains how to reach potential buyers by working with partners. Enjoy trying new ideas in your own work with help from this month's artists and tutors.