Gesture drawing is a classical drawing exercise which is somewhat related to the line of action concept. The idea is to sketch human figures very quickly (like 30-45 seconds), without detail but trying to capture the essence of the pose/movement. Posemaniacs.com has a very good Flash tool for that.
I wanted to do the same with animals, so I used a slideshow program to show random photos from my collection for 30-40 seconds each, and the first attempts sucked quite a lot - how can you draw an animal you have never studied before in just 30 seconds and have it not suck?
Boobies with Issues & deformed cats!
But later I go the point.
30 seconds are not enough to draw a body, you can only draw a few lines and shapes in that time. That's what gesture drawing is about - training the eye to break down poses and movement so it can quickly pick up the most important shapes and ignore the rest. It's learning to analyze a body without getting distracted by details like fur texture or colors.
Starting to figure it out?
Learning to see the individual shapes is as important as seeing the harmony of the whole body and it's even more important when you have to rely mostly on photos and videos, which is the only practical way to draw exotic animals on a regular basis. Photos are cluttered by useless details and this kind of exercise forces you to ignore it and look only at the essential stuff. Which makes it easier to learn and remember the looks of many different species.
Gesture drawing is well known in art academies but again I found almost nothing about doing this with animals. In future posts I'll review the artists I found who have studied the topic, however none of them has gone into much detail, even Glen Vilppu, who has done the most thorough studies of animal gestures so far. And nobody worked on truly exotic animals either - most artistic studies of animals are limited to horses and a handful of other common animals.