About the Instructor
For those of you who are not familiar with Aaron Blaise, he is an amazing artist and animator from the United States who has contributed his talents to the development and animation of well-known Disney characters appearing in animated features such as Mulan, the Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast. He is also the co-director for the animated film Brother Bear also released by Disney.
While I’ve been a fan of Disney movies since childhood (who isn’t?), I only recently learned about Aaron Blaise while doing a search for art tutorials in YouTube. I immediately was in awe of his talent and loved his approach to teaching so much that I went ahead and purchased some his drawing courses.
The Animal Drawing Course Bundle that I purchased includes courses for how to draw horses, big cats, and bears presented in video format which can be streamed or downloaded from Aaron Blaise’s website. The bundle also includes an elephant drawing course presented in a downloadable PDF file. Also included are all the image files of the drawings he produced in the course, as well as a few other reference photos.
Aaron is the instructor for all the courses. In the course videos, the camera switches back and forth from him talking, to a screen-capture of him painting in Photoshop using a Wacom Cintiq tablet. For each animal drawing course included, Aaron begins with describing and drawing the underlying anatomy, starting with the head, then certain body features, and then the body as a whole and in different poses.
The bundle is priced at $175 but I was able to purchase it during a Black Friday sale in 2017 and with a newsletter coupon discount applied, which came out to a total of $76.50 (That’s around 3825.00PHP).
My Course Experience
Just to give you an idea of my starting skill level going into these courses, I want to mention that I have a background in biology and veterinary medicine. I’m also a relatively experienced artist and often draw and paint animals. So, studies of anatomy and animal drawings are very familiar to me, which should put things in perspective for how comfortable I am with the subject matter.
My way of going through the course was to just download or stream the course lessons and watch them first without drawing along. I would then watch the lesson again, and draw along with Aaron as he demonstrates how to draw the different body parts and then the body as a whole. I’d then find some reference photos outside of the course, then draw the animal concentrating on not just copying the image but understanding the gesture and anatomy as was taught.
It helps to rewatch a lesson several times to the point where on your next drawing and left to your own devices you find you have Aaron’s voice in your head talking you through the anatomy, and telling you where the shadows and highlights should go and so on. Not at all an unpleasant voice to serve as your guide, I might add.
You also don’t need Photoshop to be able to follow the course lessons. It’s nice if you can follow along with his drawing while working on a tablet and using Photoshop (with a split screen if you’re working on a desktop computer), but using pen or pencil and paper worked for me, too.
My Thoughts On The Content
It is just amazing how much knowledge Aaron Blaise has about all these animals. His grasp of comparative anatomy is truly impressive and, for myself, being a veterinarian and having studied biology, I can really appreciate how much time he must have spent on studying these animals to understand them so well and to know their differences. It’s no small feat and reflects his passion for these animals and his commitment to learning about them. With a little bit more preparation, he could probably adequately teach a course in veterinary comparative anatomy, at least, where skeletons and muscles are concerned.
But not only is he knowledgeable, I find, he is also an effective teacher and incredibly generous with sharing his knowledge. On his YouTube channel alone, you will find tons of free quality tutorials about drawing and animation! I love that he allows you to get into his mind and to understand his thought process while he is working on a drawing or painting or an animation sequence, even allowing us to see him making mistakes and then problem-solving through a difficult pose or composition by going back to his knowledge of anatomy.
However, it is assumed that coming into this you will already have some basic drawing skills, and it will be up to you to take what you learned and practice, practice and practice. If you’re looking for a more structured course that provides a set of drawing exercises or that specifically defines the body measurements or proportions for each animal, then this course may not be for you.
Obviously, one pass through all the courses has not made me into an animal drawing expert, and I expect I will still need to draw a hundred or more of each animal species before I can claim any sort of proficiency or mastery. But already I feel my observational skills are improved and I can look at a live animal and a reference photo and more confidently draw the animal not just by copying (I’m really good at copying) but by working out the form of the animal based on the knowledge I gained. My eventual goal is to be less dependent on reference material and to be able to confidently produce scenes and poses from my own imagination. These courses I’ve taken have definitely helped me towards achieving that goal.
Absolute beginners may want to think twice about purchasing the courses, although I would not discourage them completely as there is surely a lot to be learned and much inspiration to be gained from just watching Aaron draw and paint, and from listening him talk about his love for drawing and painting as well as from hearing him tell of his experiences in his art career. His love for drawing is so apparent and infectious in his course videos, you really feel the joy he gets out of the process of creating. And that in itself is a pleasure to watch.
There are only a few minor things about the course content that I find regrettable. One is that the big cat drawing course did not include lessons about drawing the cubs of each species as was demonstrated for the course on bears. I also would have appreciated a lesson on the big cat’s face when drawn mid-roar. I also hope Aaron will find the time to do a proper Elephant drawing course in video format rather than just the one presented in a PDF file which, I thought, was not particularly useful.
My Animal Drawings
Here are some of the drawings I produced upon following Aaron Blaise’s course – some produced by following along while Aaron is drawing, some from reference and some from my own imagination.
Please bear in mind that I have spent time studying these animals on my own as well. So, you know…results may vary depending on your starting skill level.
More of my drawings can be found on my Instagram account: @marose.art
Value for Money
Did I get my money’s worth? Absolutely! The amount of content is mind-blowing and definitely worth even more than what I spent. Would I buy it at the full price? Probably not as a bundle, as the full price is pretty steep for me. But I could easily commit to purchasing one course at a time if at full price. In any case, I think the discounted rate that I was able to avail of is offered often enough throughout the year. Just subscribe to the newsletter so you can catch any sale prices.
I would most certainly highly recommend Aaron Blaise’s Animal Drawing Courses (and even his Figure Drawing & Character Design Courses which I have also purchased) to artists out there who would like to learn more about these subject matters from someone who is highly knowledgeable and experienced and who is an excellent teacher.
I absolutely look forward to more courses from Aaron Blaise as they are definitely a great addition to my digital library.
www.creatureartteacher.com – Aaron Blaise’s website