Get a free year on Tuts+ this month when you purchase a Siteground hosting plan from $3.95/mo
Although spiders are generally feared and even hated, they're useful creatures: they feed on insects and pests, and if you don't live in Australia, most of the spiders visiting your home don't even have power to bite you efficiently. When you overcome fear, some of them may even appear cute! If you're not arachnophobic, in this tutorial I'll teach you how to draw a spider in any pose, and show you a few of the more popular species.
1. Basics of Spider Anatomy
First we need to take a look at a spider's body. It's not so complicated, but certainly much different than all the animals we've learnt before. So, what do you need to know about the basic spider anatomy?
- The barrow is made of a cephalothorax (thorax with head merged) and abdomen;
- Four pairs of seven-segmented legs are present. Leg-like palps attached to the head are actually an organ of sense and they don't need to be included when planing the pose;
- All the legs are attached to the cephalothorax;
- Mandibles are equipped with hooked claws;
- There are usually two rows of eyes on the head.
Of course, this kind of scheme is hard to reflect when building a pose, so we can simplify it:
But wait, some of the segments aren't really used as basic joints. We can simplify the legs even more:
2. The Movement of a Spider
To draw a proper pose, we need to understand how an animal moves. Spiders are very simple in this aspect, since all their poses can be limited to walking, idle, and playing dead.
All right, but walking itself is hard enough! All these legs can really make you dizzy:
Fortunately, it's only an illusion! In fact, the general rule is very simple. Let's remove the middle legs of our spider (no animals were harmed when preparing this exercise). Now you can see front and hind legs are symmetrical and work in pretty predictable way.
OK, but what about other legs? Let's leave only alternating pairs now:
As you can see, they move pretty much the same! They've got their limits, of course (hind legs can't stretch forward too much), but generally they mimic the motion of their partner, each in their own range.
Let's analyze the movement in detail. Each pair has only one goal - to stretch forward as much as possible and "push" the ground to the back. These "jumps" must be synchronized - when one pair is stretching, the other one is pushing.
What about the other side of the body? There are four more legs! No problem - they perform a complementary movement. E.g., when a leg is stretching, its equivalent from the other side is pushing.
3. Draw a Spider Body
Start with a barrow put on a simple perspective grid.
Draw the first part of every leg using simple lines of the same length. They should spread in a fan shape.
Attach longer lines to them. The angle between these lines is up to you and doesn't need to be the same for every leg.
Add gentle arches building a kind of dome. Divide them in half.
Now you've got all the guide lines you need to draw the body.
If you want it to be more detailed, you can add the part of legs we've simplified before. This way you can draw any spider, you just need to account the features of particular species.
This technique can be used for any perspective you need!
And what about more various poses? You can modify the steps to create any spider you want. You can change the angles, lengths, or even modify the arches. The legs don't need to stand in a perfect row!
4. A Few Popular Species - Tips
You can draw a spider using everything we've just learnt, but don't stop here - the real fun starts when you draw a real spider!
Jumping spiders are the cutest little creatures on Earth - they're intelligent, their sight is even better than yours (they can see in color!), they're also hunters. They don't spin web, they just follow their prey and jump on it, like real predators! And, the best of all, they're too tiny to bite you, so you can safely let one have a walk on your hand. The way they look around makes them look like tiny, curious kittens! (I'm totally in love with them, would you guess?)
Let's start with the most popular jumping spider - the zebra spider:
- Although they have eight eyes, four of them are the most visible - two huge ones and two smaller next to them. Draw them round and shiny;
- Furry palps are usually kept in a way to cover the mandibles. Jumping spiders move their palps all the time!
- There's a cute fringe of very thin hair at the forehead of almost every jumping spider;
- The abdomen isn't much bigger than the rest of the body, and it's slightly tapered;
- Forelegs are usually kept together in the front, so from the distance these spiders can look like tiny scorpions.
When it comes to sex differences, female is a bit bigger, and male has more distinctive mandibles.
Tarantulas aren't one species - it's a family of big, very furry spiders often kept as pets. As scary as the may look, they're slow and they wouldn't even think of jumping on things. They won't attack you all of a sudden if you're not even touching them.
The most popular tarantula I can think of is the star of many movies - the Mexican Red-knee tarantula:
- They look quite fat and round because of the huge abdomen and thick legs;
- The eyes are small and non distinctive;
- The mandibles are big and furry;
- Only the "main" knees are orange, but there is visible depigmentation of hairs on every knee.
Both sexes look very similar. Male has a bit smaller body, but with longer legs.
Time for the lady of many nightmares, the black widow! This ferocious, venomous beast doesn't jump either, so you can safely look at her. The venom of female may be strong enough to kill a human, but it rarely does. And what about the famous mate-killing? Well, males are nearly useless after copulation, so females may as well treat them as investition for future children, but at large males usually manage to escape.
Let's learn some more about black widow:
- The cephalothorax looks very small in comparison to long, slim legs and huge abdomen;
- The eyes are tiny and protruding;
- The palps are rather short in comparison to legs;
- Famous red hourglass symbol can be found at the bottom of abdomen, but there can appear red dots or stripes on the dorsal side too.
With this species males look totally different than females - they're much smaller and they keep their colors from a young age. Their palps are converted into a kind of reproductive organ, so they don't look like little legs anymore - imagine them as inverted cups.
Looks like we've survived the creepiness! I suggest you don't stop on this tutorial and learn more about your favorite species - you should now have no problem with drawing them.