Revisiting Major Kite Physiology

I’m to a point in the second video where I will be drawing Major Kites in action. Before I do this, I wanted to re-examine their physiology to make sure I was drawing them right.

Some initial sketches where I established the general size and posture of major kites.
Human and minor kite figures shown for scale.

Original Design

The original idea for the major kites came to me when I wanted to make a species that was less mammalian, maybe even insectile. Some of the original image flashes in my mind were for something mantis-like, but I settled on caterpillar-like. So, how would a human-size caterpillar actually work? And why would they look like a giant caterpillar?

I thought it would make sense that major kites wouldn’t be actual caterpillars; they only look as such. Unlike caterpillars they a vertebrates, and their body structure is not an early stage of development that later metamorphoses into something else. So what if the pillow-y body build is just a folded wing membrane? I really liked the idea and developed the design as such.

The armor design for two of the major kite characters; Lir’li’se and Hessness

The initial design had a tall body with a base that had a tail and two front-facing appendages, as you can see above. But when I actually looked at the outstretched, fully open body posture, I started second-guessing that upright design. I wasn’t so sure that the folded-up body would actually look like my original design. So I went down to the fundamentals and drew the bone structure.

Under the skin

drawing the skeleton first helped me establish what the animal’s fundamental physical parameters looked like.

Under all of it, it looks like major kites are just tetrapods, much like us and the larger land animals on earth: they have a backbone, four limbs and a skull. bones, of course, are heavy and creatures that evolved lighter skeletons have been favored in flight. So it made little sense for major kites to have a heavy exoskeleton, or many more limbs. You can also see shoulder blades and narrow hips.

Here’s what the skeleton looks like from above:

I did the flying posture after I did the standing posture, then I reconciled the two in a way that made sense. I experimented with making the center appendages (the longest ones) have a golden ratio – with the three segments having the same ratio as a human finger, but that didn’t look right.

You’ll also notice that the appendages closest to the head and those closest to the tail have no corresponding bones. That’s right; they are boneless, muscular appendages used in flight and general utility while on the ground. Since flying creatures here on earth seem to have a small “bone budget”, I wanted to keep to that principle as much as possible by making some of the limbs boneless.

The results

The final result of the new “skeleton-included” design is that the two front appendages are more prominent and actually originate from a shoulder apparatus about half-way up the height of the creature. The rest of the design is roughly the same. I was happy to see everything fall into place and that my original design was reasonably well thought-out. I’m still picking at the way the wings are folded about the front limbs – this might need some tweaking yet!

This was a fun exercise and definitely yielded a lot sketches to share here 😄. I also super-enjoyed making the image of the major kite with the human seen below. It came out so relaxed and friendly, very in-tune with the spirit of August. It was also a chance for me to experiment with some fashion designs for humans.

I was really happy with how this illustration came out, they both look so comfortable and natural together!
I think knowing how their bone structure works helped me get the poses right.

Thanks for reading! See you soon!!


Published by Sapling

I am writing/illustrating the work-in-progress novel "Free Drove". I am a science fiction and animation fan. My mind latches on to trivia readily and creates it just as easily.

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