Thanks for the encouragement and votes of confidence but I was still not happy with the muscle shading. I’m not trying to draw it out but I only have one chance on metal and many chances on paper. I think this is better.
Thanks Dave and John. I think I am ready to call it done. I’m sure there will be tweaks along the way but this is about as far as I can take it for now.
I also need to thank everyone for your help and advice. I remember it was not too long ago when I claimed to be self taught. What a crock.... I have learned so much from so many people here and in person that it would be a lie to claim to be self taught. Maybe I will be able to pass it along some day.
Dan is a former student, friend, and engraver with good artistic instincts and wonderful potential. He graciously shared his reference photo and after some correspondence here is my redrawing and explanation. Rarely should lines in nature be drawn/engraved as a smooth curve or swoop. This is especially true with animals. Curves can be rendered by a series of slightly convex lines. The back of the leopard is a good example. To depict the back with a smooth curve causes it to appear weak and in many cases cartoonish. The convex lines create strength. I have redefined the shoulder and the top of the neck. The muscles are under the skin and are very subtle. Just a light shading is necessary in many cases. Overemphasizeing the muscle will make the animal appear to be on an impressive regimen of steroids and again move it into cartoon world. Define the rib cage and leanness of the mid section. Between the back of the rib cage and rear leg is stretched skin and not muscle. Lengthen the body. The extended/near rear leg slightly overlaps the tail where it connects to the body. I really dislike drawing feet/hooves/paws. It might be my lack of skill but they often just plain look stupid. My preference is to hide them in grass or behind a rock. The distant rear leg is posed awkwardly. I know it’s a photo so it is correct but some animals are lousy posers just like people. How many photos show three legged animals. Between the grass and a cast shadow from the body the far rear leg can be effectively obscured.
Thank you again Lee for your help. I wish I had a fraction of your talent. With either a graver or pencil. I did my best to follow your advice. I need to either learn how to do better paws or better grass. Still a work in progress but hopefully better than my last post. Pics are with and without spots, I love procreate.....
Moving very nicely in the right direction. Define the slightly hollow area behind the ribs and in front of the rear leg. The rear end appears to be too high and rounded. Streamline it a bit and possibly lengthen slightly and the muscle on the upper rear leg will come down at a slight angle and not vertical. With the leg stretched out it will have some angle. If it was tucked underneath it would be closer to how you have it drawn.