Example page - in my CD blue words are a link to other pages

Realistic proportions

To design the pattern for a naturalistic bear, it is best if you donít use a common teddy pattern as a base. Get photos picturing the whole bear in profile. Take transparent paper and draw the outline. Try to find out the shape of the thighs as well.

In order to design the bear's head in a correct way, you also need photographs showing the head from the front. For the picture in the middle I have adjusted two photographs making sure, the nose line has the same length. For the final head pattern keep in mind the edge of the head  will be bent and will shorten the profile by this. To get the proportions of the head as shown on the photographs you have to add this lost length to the headside and the gusset as well. 

Yow youíve got the base pattern for your bearís pattern, the proportions ought to be right by now. For the final pattern youíve got the remember that a bear is not flat, i.e. add a little to the body and the legs for volume. Either design a suitable head gusset or work with darts. 

For small bears it will not make a big difference, but the larger the bear will be, the more volume you have to add. To illustrate this I made a paper roll as "body". It looks nearly as wide as the pattern on left, but if I make it flat it is wider as you see in the right picture.

If you make a simple paper model, you will see, if the pattern works the way you want and if  the proportions are correct.For example  you can see now the head was designed too short, because I had forgotten to add the width of the snout as shown above.

I have noticed many novices in realistic bear design make the legs very short or attach them too low.


As you see on the skeleton the bear has hips close to his spine (like most other mammals). The legs don't start under the tummy, but much higher. 

In order to get an organic look, you should insert a joint disc as large as possible, so the beginning of the arm or leg will be attached flat to the body. In a dense fur the base of the limbs should be hidden in the fur at the first glance.

Like me many beginners design the feet of their bears rather plump (drawing left). In many cases the front leg (or arm) is designed like a teddy's leg. In fact it looks flat as you can see on the photograph the brown bear's  legs.  If you intend to work with armatures it is best to design the arms or legs stretched out. You can than move the paws in the way a real bear is able to do. Especially if your bear should also stand on two legs, this looks much better. I assume men prefer animals being able to walk upright on two legs. That's why so many people are fond of penguins and probably the reason, men always had a very special relationship to bears. Real bears stand on two legs rather often, because they can watch better what is going on and sometimes they walk on two legs. Walking on all fours they have their hands stretched out, not as a fist like a monkey for example. Bears also walk on their full sole like men, not on their toes like dogs or cats.

Needle sculpted toes and claws will also contribute to the realistic look. It helps, keeping the toes flat.
The right soles wonít be any trouble, I hope. Keep in mind to make the edge of the foot rounded, so the sole can be large and flat.