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Humanlike Foot Anatomy

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Are dogs supposed to stand like that?

A prevalent animal animation technique is to draw any animal's foot as though it has the same structure as a human foot with the toes, sole and heel flat on the ground (known as plantigrade), bent at the ankle and with a knee about half way up the leg.

Why do we care? Well, you've probably noticed that a lot of prominent animation animals (e.g. bird, dogs, horses) don't fit this in Real Life. Canine and feline creatures look like they are propped up on their toes (aka digitigrade, which many four legged animals do), birds keep up on their talons and horses have a very different looking set of joints in their legs that don't bend like a human knee. In fact their hooves are their fingernails, what you think is an ankle is a knuckle, the joint closest to the middle is a wrist and the backwards bending knee near the top is an elbow. We're through the looking glass here, people!

Why do animators do this? Well, there are horses and cattle in the countryside, pigeons in the city and cats and dogs as pets in the suburbs so it's either:

A) All animators were raised and work on a space station circling the earth where the only animal encounter is with the occasional chimpanzee astronaut and passing Space Whale, or

B) Animator training involves things like studying actual animal anatomy and training with realistic studies of bone structure and then knowing what to discard. Drawing all the joints of a horse's legs can look like you've given them slinkies for limbs when they are drawn in the same simplified style as one which makes humans look like they are walking around on a pair of tree trunks. Plus giving an animal a humanlike foot anatomy means you can give them a human-like walking motion which displays human-like personality and emotions. They can strut, they can swagger, they can creep around on their tip-toes. They might just give them plantigrade feet when they are standing still for a particular stance or conversely just when they are moving for a particular walk. (Which in some cases is justified, since many of these animals will place their whole foot down when resting.) Sometimes, the character's feet are drawn as merely toes and without any sole or heel to them.

And, of course, Most Animators Are Human.

Note for cartoony foot stance examples; Funny Animals are often drawn this way by default due to their anatomy and Beast Men tend to more often follow human anatomy than animal anatomy, so please list only examples that are meant to be four-legged depictions that fit into their world in the way the animal fits into ours. Two-legged depictions are allowed only if their feet are actually just toes. Any ungulate (hoofed) example is allowed as long it is not a Beast Man. Any bird example is allowed as long as it is a Nearly Normal Animal, Civilized Animal, or Funny Animal like Daffy Duck or Woody Woodpecker. Please don't list any Bird People examples.

Subtrope of Funny Animal Anatomy. Related to Humanlike Hand Anatomy. A common trope for Barefoot Cartoon Animals. Contrast Running on All Fours, when humanlike characters switch from two to four limbs for running, and Faux Paw.

Example subpages:

Cartoony Foot Stance Examples:

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  • Outsider deconstructs this, with the similar foot structures (arches and all) of humans and the Loroi are yet another bit of evidence that there's some connection between the two species.
  • Horses in The Order of the Stick have L shaped feet-leg structures, much like the human stick figures. Starting from the fifth book, horses and similar creatures (like camels) get more realistic legs.

Cartoony Foot Shape Examples:

    Comic Books 
  • Sam from Sam & Max has humanoid feet, unlike the other animals in the comics, video games, and animated series.
  • The entire cast of Omaha the Cat Dancer has totally humanoid feet, albeit with only three toes.

  • In most animated works, rabbits and hares are drawn with catlike footpads, which they don't have in real life. This is even when their feet look otherwise appropriate for a rabbit or hare. The feet of animated and cartoon rabbits and hares are also drawn with less furry soles than they would have in real life.

  • Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat has an inversion of the usual way cartoon rabbits' feet are drawn. In other words, his feet don't have pads and they have furry soles, more like that of a real rabbit than that of a real cat.



Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Flat Footed Fido, Flat Footed Birdie, Humanlike Animal Feet, Humanoid Animal Feet, Cartoony Animal Feet, Flat Footed Horsie, Cartoony Foot Anatomy, Plantigrade Animal Feet, Humanoid Foot Anatomy, Plantigrade Foot Anatomy


D.W. goes back to free James

During a swim race, D.W.'s friend James gets his swim fin stuck on a lane marker. D.W. abandons the race to go back and free him, even though that costs her the win to her other friend, Emily.

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5 (2 votes)

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Main / DudleyDoRightStopsToHelp

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