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Furries Are Easier to Draw

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"He found a formula for drawing comic rabbits:
This formula for drawing comic rabbits paid.
Till in the end he could not change the tragic habits
This formula for drawing comic rabbits made."
— Animator Robert Graves, "Epitaph of an Unfortunate Animator", quoted by Richard Williams in The Animator's Survival Kit.

A lot of cartoons, anime, and Webcomics have Funny Animal characters. Many assume that the artists who create them are furries, and that this is why the characters are all anthropomorphic animals. While this is certainly true in some cases, it's usually not.

Most Artists Are Humans, but unfortunately humans are fairly hard to draw. This has a lot to do with the principles behind the Uncanny Valley theory. We know what people look like. We see them every day. We have entire neural structures in our brains dedicated completely to picking up the incredibly subtle differences between human faces. If an artist's human characters don't look just so, those characters won't be appealing.

Oddly enough, there doesn't seem to be much of an Uncanny Valley equivalent for animals, aside from photorealistically rendered CGI animated animals and real animals in live action films that talk or make humanlike facial expressions. There is almost no equivalent of Uncanny Valley for any extremely stylized animals, monsters, alien characters, or giant robots. After all, there aren't any Beast Folk running around in the real world. This means that there isn't any right or wrong way to draw cartoon animals, so it's impossible to be close but not quite there.

Also, while artists who limit themselves to humans are very likely to use a limited variety of facial designs, furries and animals have several additional traits to help tell each other apart, from fur color to ears, to tails to paws — not to mention species. As a result, an artist can easily make a Cast of Snowflakes just by randomizing each character.

Further, while human body language can be on the subtle side (especially if you have trouble drawing people to begin with), animals have lots of features that are easy to use in this regard; tails, ears, whiskers... they all can convey meaning very directly. And since, as above, we are more familiar with human emotions by default, if you make a misstep with animals it isn't as noticeable.

In some cases, but not all, this may be due to a Lazy Artist. In particular, most webcomic artists are amateurs. Some of them just can't draw that well, so they borrow from the more professional Furry Comics as a shortcut. The audience tends to notice the difference in quality. Most art school students run a long, long gauntlet of figure drawing courses. An appealing human face is indeed one of the hardest damn things in the world to draw — however, the rest of said human isn't any harder or easier to draw than any other animal. Many artists go on to create animal characters anyway — but there is a noticeably greater attention to detail from someone who's trained on drawing humans. Furthermore, once you start drawing animals, you understand why you drew so many human figures. We're about as close to a "Do Anything Tetrapod" as you can get.

A lot of early 3D artwork and video games made use of this as well. It's awfully hard to make a convincing human out of a handful of triangles, but maybe, just maybe, that puddle of polygons is a bandicoot or something. This is also a common reason why certain works that make it clear humans exist within their fictional universe choose to not portray them at all.

A major cause of Furry Confusion, if not handled well.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • Wolf's Rain is one of the few works that turns this trope on its ear. The animators had far more experience animating appealing human characters; their animal characters tend to look a little off. So there are whole episodes in the series where the animal characters spend all their time in human form (It Makes Sense in Context) when there is no particular reason to do so.
  • Yoshihiro Takahashi's works tend to invert this. Especially the anime adaptation of Ginga Densetsu Weed - the dogs can look so strange as to be cringe-worthy. Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin suffers from this as well, but not nearly as badly. Humans in these series, on the other hand, tend to be rather well-drawn.

     Comic Books 
  • Usagi Yojimbo: Stan Sakai is perfectly capable of drawing recognizable and distinct humans — but his "furry" characters allow new readers to grasp the essentials of his regular cast very quickly and easily. The character Katsuichi is powerful, insightful and reserved, so he's a lion. Kitsune is fun-loving and cunning but essentially amoral, so she's a fox. Gen is fearless, powerful and easily angered, so he's a rhinoceros... and so on.
  • Omaha the Cat Dancer is pornographic — its characters all have animal heads and tails, but the rest of them is quite human. Quite.
  • Maus: Drawing all the characters as mice or other animals is the only significant acceptable break from reality that this explicitly biographical comic tolerates. Cats vs. mice also makes for a convenient visual metaphor, though one that would turn the story into a Broken Aesop if taken too seriously. The book has a fair few fourth wall breaks where creator Art Spiegelman addresses readers directly and discusses some of the metaphor's limitations. When Spiegelman is at his most medium-aware - the scenes where he visits his psychiatrist - he draws the animal faces as explicit masks worn by humans. There's also an ambiguous scene regarding a concentration camp inmate who claims to be a non-Jewish German; Spiegelman initially draws him as a mouse but then redraws him as a cat when asking his father's opinion on the truth of the inmate's story.

    Fan Works 
  • Inverted in the Pokémon webcomic Team Rocket Roots. The humans are drawn rather on-model, but the Pokémon are another thing. They're more noticeably off-model.

  • Inverted in Robin Jarvis' illustrations of his own Deptford Mice books. His drawings of mice have a distinctly uncanny vibe whereas his drawings of humans are much better.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • This is almost certainly why Pluggers uses furries, since the strip is about Midwestern senior citizens.
  • This was the reason stated why German comic artist Peter Puck drew his character Rudi as this. Dog snouts are easier than human noses, apparently.
  • Played straight by Lewis Trondheim besides being a huge Carl Barks fan.

     Video Games 

  • Tracy J. Butler, the author of Lackadaisy, says that she doesn't identify with the Furry Fandom but uses cats because she finds them more expressive.
    "When dealing in sociopathic criminalism and gratuitous violence, how could it not be cats?"
  • Coach Random had some characters drawn as dogs because the artist was under a deadline. In one strip, he has humans and a dog side-by-side, showing the difference in how the artist drew them. His humans are quite detailed. The dog, not so much.
  • After seeing both humans and Furries as drawn by David Hopkins, the artist for the webcomic Jack, it doesn't take much effort to figure out why he very rarely draws humans.
  • VG Cats — though the artist had no idea what Furries were when he started.
    • Though the strip uses human characters at least as often as the cats, depending on what game is being mocked at the time.
  • Doc Nickel (artist for The Whiteboard) has explicitly stated that he used anthropomorphic animal characters because he couldn't draw humans for crap. According to several of his posts on the forums in August 2011, though, he was working on overcoming the problem with drawing humans, with more human characters being given actual details instead of undefined "floating bubbleheads", and the results were impressive. But a few months later he decided to drop humans altogether. He did use generic human faces to replace "the no-necks" when he retroactively coloured strips for winter and spring of 2012, but after that all one-shot characters have been anthropomorphic animals. Also of note is converting Larry and Daryl — the no-necks who gained some depth over time — to squirrels.
  • The creator of the web comic Harkovast originally struggled to draw animals, but after a few months of drawing nothing but animal people found human infinitely more difficult. Fortunately, the comic features no human characters!
  • Vince Suzukawa gives a detailed explanation of why the cast of The Class Menagerie were all furry. The main point was that animal faces can be more expressive (ears can move, fur can bristle etc). Also, it creates a comfortable divide from the real world, and problems of racial balance or resemblance to persons living or dead. He also demonstrates that he can draw humans and make his characters work in human form. Not to say it's fun to violate Animal Stereotypes. Like when a mouse bullies a bull.
  • The artist of Keychain of Creation has stated that he gradually made Marena's fox ears and tail more prominent because they make her more expressive. It's hard to show complex expressions on a stick figure.
  • The artist of The Dragon Doctors attempts to avert his instances of Only Six Faces by throwing in a few "beastmen" to diversify the cast. We've seen a cat-man SWAT officer, an insect-looking lawyer (talking to a buffalo-looking lawyer!).
  • Though the creator of Cheap Thrills can (and does) draw humans very well, she claims this as one of the reasons she draws in an anthro style: "When I started the comic, I couldn't draw human faces for shit. I could draw animal faces, though, so I went with it...If I were to start over, I'd probably do the comic with human characters instead, or possibly tinker with the comic's universe a little bit so that the usage of animal people made more sense."
  • Sabrina Online: In-Universe, Sabrina tells Amy she intends to make the protagonist of her new webcomic a cat because they're easier to draw. Sabrina herself is a skunk, and no humans exist in this universe, so what they're easier to draw than is never stated.
  • Most of the characters in Stubble Trouble are furries for this reason, though some humans do appear as well.
  • Webcomic Rank Amateur has only one human in the main cast, which the author has so far drawn only a few times. The cast also features two furries - Felix, a cat and Guardian, a bird - though the majority of the main characters are humanoid aliens.
    • Those aliens have snouts rather than human-like flat faces, so they fit the trope too.
  • T.J. Baldwin admits that Karate Bears are easier to draw than people. Look at the crowd scenes.
  • Ilya Savchenko claims he even can't draw animals other than toucans. His works include parodies of House M.D., The Matrix, and Lord of the Rings. With all characters as toucans. (No translations, unfortunately.)

     Web Original 
  • The art of Ruby Quest is half this and half Shout-Out to Animal Crossing. This series also clearly displays an interesting side effect of this trope: furries are easier to tell apart. Ruby Quest is done in a very simplistic style. The different animal features make it possible to identify who's who.

     Western Animation 
  • Generally subverted in regards to making 3-D MMD (Miku Miku Dance) models of this type. Non-human models are more difficult and complex to make from scratch, let alone animate. A certain skill level and the right software are required to pull it off, so human models are more common.

Alternative Title(s): Animals Are Easier To Draw