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Centaur Proportion Tutorial by Yubria Centaur Proportion Tutorial by Yubria
EDIT EDIT: Added something I forgot.

EDIT: Fixed some typos *Uinn pointed out (thanks!). I guess I should also mention that the book I referred to was Drawing and Painting Horses by Barbara Oelke. It's a pretty awesome and VERY thorough book.

Ever since my last centaur tutorial ([link] - which is more of how-I-draw tutorial than anything else) I've been wanting to upload a more helpful tutorial about proportions, because in my opinion, it's the proportions that are the most important in making them believable/natural and the hardest to get right. So this is how I've been drawing centaurs for a while, and I've found it to be a pretty quick and easy method. If there are any typos, anything doesn't make sense, or if you have any questions, please let me know.

FYI because I'm a proud horse owner- that's my horse in the photo ref. :) He looks a lot better when he's groomed, though. He's a Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse, pretty short, and super fast. His name is Jireh (as in Jehovah Jireh, which is Hebrew for "God provides." We figured it was an appropriate name because Jireh was given to me). He currently lives in a pasture adjacent to our backyard. :heart:
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:icondragonfox33:
Dragonfox33 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ahhh so glad I found this tutorial, it'll be a big help with my next project :'D

How would wings work with this I wonder? They would have to be pretty large, eh?
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:iconjdailey1991:
Jdailey1991 Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2014
Why two ribcages?
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:iconendersmirror:
Endersmirror Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Something I'd like to bring up for consideration.  Basing the size of the human torso on the horse's neck doesn't seem like it would work proportionately for a couple of reasons.  First, the neck of a horse is mostly muscle, one of the densest tissues in an animal's body, and even removing all the other organs from the human torso, the lungs take up a fair bit of space which would effect the general weight.  Also, using those proportions leaves out the consideration of the horse's head, which, as you've already stated, adds almost another full length to the distance the neck extends from the shoulders.  Since there is a need for counterbalancing when at speed, shouldn't the human torso be slightly larger to account for the weight/ stretched length difference between the torso and neck/ head?  My thoughts would be the human head's height could be about halfway between where the horse's head would be at full height and the head height of an average sized human rider sitting erect.  Just my 2 cents worth.
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:iconriverfox237:
Riverfox237 Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
OH HEY IAVAR HOW ARE YOU IT HAS BEEN A WHILE :D

Super neat! I shall save this into my handy-dandy developing reference folder for future consideration!
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:iconfireaze:
Fireaze Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2011
Glad you decided to make another one! :D
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2011
Hope it's a little more helpful. ;)
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:iconanemoritos:
Anemoritos Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2011
very nice!!!! thanks a lot
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2011
You're welcome. I hope it helps. :)
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:iconamarie-veneanar:
Amarie-Veneanar Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2011
That's a nice tutorial, thanks for sharing! :heart:
Though, I'm afraid, you've submitted it into the wrong category. The deviantART Related / deviantART Tutorial category is for tutorials about deviantART like for example "how to manage your friends' list", "how to edit your dA settings" or all kinds of tutorials about the CSS skins for subscribed accounts.

Your tutorial fits best into the this category in the Resources & Stock Images gallery, because it's about digital painting and drawing, but isn't bound to a special painting software. :-)
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2011
Thanks for clarifying that. I haven't submitted many tutorials, so what category to put them in is kind of confusing. :)
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:iconamarie-veneanar:
Amarie-Veneanar Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2011
You're welcome. :-)
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:iconchristmasrose16:
ChristmasRose16 Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2011  Student General Artist
Sweet! Hmm, somehow this seems familiar....XD
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
Hmmmmm I wonder why... >.>
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:iconkri-chan:
Kri-chan Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011
Oh man, I've always been in love with your centaurs. This is awesome, extremely practical.

(I was totally inspired and ran off and did some practice sketches. Thanks again! [link])
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
Thanks! I'm glad it helped. Your sketches look pretty good. ;)
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:iconzirathedarkelf:
zirathedarkelf Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011  Student Writer
Thank you! I see so many misproportioned centaurs that I was starting to get annoyed with it. :XD:
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
Well, they ARE hard to get looking right, but... I agree. :D
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:iconvioletwhirlwind:
VioletWhirlwind Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
two sets of heart/lungs and two ribcages...that's a good idea!
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
Thanks! :)
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:iconadamtls:
AdamTLS Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very nice tutorial. Now I have to see how well my centaurs stack up. ^_^
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
Thanks! I hope it helps.
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:iconckentavr:
CKentavr Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011
There's some other proportions you'll see out there that use applications of the golden rule... I don't know that any have been published on DA.

For instance, I generally like smaller, more flexible centaurs with longer legs and therefore taller human to horse halves.

But that's a great note about the neck vs legs.
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
As far as horse anatomy goes, yes, there's a lot. The book I referenced goes into a lot more detail, but I only used the few I did because they seemed to be the most relevant. :)

See, what annoys me about those types of centaurs is this- they look fine when their human torso is upright, but if you try to vary the pose or give them movement they end up looking very unnatural and unbalanced because the human torso visually outweighs the horse body. And a side note- I think it comes because of a common misconception that horses aren't very flexible, and I can totally understand why, since their bodies look so solid and square. But as I mentioned in the artist's comments, I have my own horse. There are times when he honestly surprises me with how flexible and agile he really is, so I don't think centaurs would need much added flexibility.

Of course, this IS a fantasy creature we're talking about, so you're welcome to your own opinion on it.
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:iconckentavr:
CKentavr Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
Totally! But while the centaur might look awkward, the density of a human vs the density of a horse is vastly different; they have a much thicker bone structure in their head and neck compared to humans.

I think of it as variance; you have horses with longer legs, so why not centaurs? And the reach would more match Leonardo's Vitruvian Man.
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
Not really. Their bone structure might be thicker than a human's head and neck, but we're not saying a human head and neck is equal to a horse's- you have to figure in the entire human torso, which includes quite a bit of other bone, muscle, and organs a horse's head and neck doesn't have.

True, but horses vary relatively little in that respect. True, Shires and Thoroughbreds and Shetlands are vastly different in initial appearance, but they're pretty close in proportion. Yes, a Thoroughbred's legs are a little longer, and the Shetland's are a little shorter, and the Shire is altogether thicker, but they follow the same general rules very closely.
I've seen a drawing of a Vitruvian Centaur, and I don't really follow why people would think it would work with a centaur. The Vitruvian Man is a man, and a centaur is a man stuck where a horse's neck should be. It doesn't make sense for them to have similar proportions. :shrug:
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:iconckentavr:
CKentavr Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2011
But humans don't all have the same proportions as the Vitruvian Man, either.
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2011
True, but we don't vary that much either in structural proportions. Take a look at [link] [link] and [link] . There are obviously different body types, but as far as how long the arms are or how long the legs are in relation to the rest of the body, there's not that much of a difference.
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:iconckentavr:
CKentavr Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011
Certainly, no, but within what percentage? I'm suggesting only varying less than 10%.
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011
A 10% change would probably be fine, depending on what parts you change, because, again, with centaurs you have to remember they're going to have a completely different center of balance than humans.
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:iconthesilverbells:
TheSilverBells Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
hahaha Yay for random horse facts! xD

Very simple and it makes common sense. (: Good job!
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
Thanks!
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:iconnaoru:
Naoru Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
I find horses so hard to grasp in drawing terms, I'm always amazed at how well you draw the proportions and shape of the horse-part of centaurs. I assume owning horses and riding them really helps to understand how they work ^^ And he's such a cute horse! I'd love to try horse riding one day, I'd like to find a shorter horse as I find large ones a bit daunting =3
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
Well, I think the first thing I ever drew was a horse, and they've been my favorite non-fantasy animal for... pretty much my whole life. Having my own horse helps a bit too. ;) Haha, the thing I don't like about big horses is how hard they can be to get on. XD
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:iconuinn:
Uinn Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011  Hobbyist
Very interesting tutorial! :) I had no idea about the length indication neck = legs = head... I will have to remember it! Thank you!
And it is always very entertaining to see how people think differently the anatomy from one artist to the next ^^

About typos and incoherences, in your second paragraph there is "you can also so I've put" (I guess the "so" is supposed to be a "see"), and at the end of this paragraph you started a sentence that is never finished...
Also you have "SO TO GET FROM A CENTAUR TO A HORSE:" when it should be the other way around.
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
Thanks! I'd highly suggest reading that horse book, if you're interested in drawing horse related things (I added it to the comments, once I realized I forgot to).

And thanks a bunch for pointing those out! I can't believe I missed all those. *headdesk*
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:iconuinn:
Uinn Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011  Hobbyist
ok, sounds interesting! :)

sure ^^
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:iconharseik:
Harseik Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2011  Student Digital Artist
o o ... <3 This should really be a DD. You have no idea how helpful this was for me, not only for drawing centaurs, but horses in general. The explanations were simplistic and easy for me to retain. I should implement this in a drawing sometime soon. Thank you very much for all of the time and effort you put into making this, Yubria.
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:iconyubria:
Yubria Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2011
Thanks! I'm glad it helped. :) The book I referenced (added name and author to artist's comment, since I somehow managed to forget the first time around) goes into a LOT more detail about that sort of stuff, if you want to check that out sometime. Can't wait to see what you come up with- I always love looking at your creations (I'm guessing maybe a Superman-centaur XD).
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