How to Draw Insects: Understanding and Drawing the Legs (part 2)

The most common mistake people make in insect drawings.

[B]efore you read any further, stop and choose which one of these two beetles has the correct leg attachment.

Don’t feel badly if you guess this one wrong. It is a very common mistake. This is where a little knowledge gets us into trouble. We know that the legs attach to the thorax and so expect to see something like the first (left) picture. Now do a google search for images of beetles and look at how the legs really attach. Surprised? What we see in real beetles is like the drawing on the right.

Carabid front and backHow can this be if the legs attach to the thorax? The diagram at the right shows the dorsal (top) and ventral (bottom) view of a ground beetle. The thorax (middle segment) is shown in orange. Note how the thorax extends on the underside of the abdomen. Technically, the elytra or wing covers attach to the thorax too and should be orange but as they overly the abdomen, I left them white for this diagram. Remember to look carefully at where the legs really come out instead of relying on your ideas of where they should.