What is Anthro?

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skifi's avatar
Too many people has the wrong idea about what does "Anthro" mean...  even before deviantART created a whole gallery devoted to this special kind of art, there are still too many doubts about this category, and maybe that explains many of the mistakes when uploading pictures, images or drawings to our section.

Even when I was still not the Anthro Gallery Director , I tried to explain this concept in a journal entry but couldn't manage to make it clear, and now I think it's the perfect chance for a new attempt. ^___^ To start with, let's take a look at two definitions that may help us.

  1. ...from Wikipedia:

    Anthro: a synonym for anthropomorphism in the furry fandom.

    Anthropomorphism is the attribution of uniquely human characteristics and qualities to nonhuman beings, inanimate objects, or natural or supernatural phenomena (...)
    Anthro Art and may be any fictional work that employs the concept of animal characters with human characteristics. For this reason, any work, in any medium, may be considered part of the anthropomorphic genre simply by inclusion of a fantastic animal character, although such characters are most often seen in comics, cartoons, animated films, allegorical novels, and video games. The science fiction and fantasy genres make frequent use of anthropomorphism, and as a result, are especially popular in furry fandom. Since the 1980s, the term furries has come to refer to anthropomorphic animal characters.
  2. ...from WikiFur:

    Anthropomorphic is a word meaning "like a human." It is used to describe a well-known concept called anthropomorphism: ascribing human characteristics to a non-human being or object. (...) the word can apply to any non-human thing, including animals, plants, and inanimate objects.

    Since the 1980s, the furry fandom has used the word to refer primarily to bipedal animals. Anthropomorphic animals are sometimes called anthro or morphic for short, and art featuring furry characters is sometimes called anthro art. This is somewhat ironic, as anthro ultimately derives from the Greek anthropos, a word that means "human being."

...And, to enlighten you a bit, here you have examples of the most common mistakes ;)

  • :bulletblue: Dragons, as any other kind of Mythical Creature, like for example Mermaids, Unicorns, Bigfoot, Chupacabras or Loch Ness Monsters, are not "Anthro", so they should be uploaded to Fantasy.
  • :bulletblue: Boys or girls with cat ears or tails, are humans with animal features, but NOT animals with human features.... so they are not Anthro, and should be uploaded to the right gallery, for example Manga/Anime if they fit that japanese drawing style.
  • :bulletblue: Believe it or not, there are still miscategorized deviations because drawings featuring people, are submitted to Anthro in the (wrong) belief that "Anthro" means "Human"... if you have read this News Article down to this point, then you can realize they are 100% mistaken

...So I hope this little report has helped you to understand a bit more the purpose Anthro Gallery has in deviantART. I can understand there are not only black and white but a whole range of possibilities, and sometimes the difference between "Animal" and "Anthro", or related to "Fantasy", is a thin red line, but as a general view, the previous definitions are the regulations currently in force, even if that doesn't mean they can't change.... We're flexible, after all, and any kind of feedback is always more than welcome :heart:
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tokyo-lover2's avatar
i think those who like/love anthro must have a thing for zoophilia
Alloniya's avatar
sad but true :D
skifi's avatar
CreativeStorm1's avatar
Thanks, this is quite helpful
Davidtehfiregod's avatar
Thanks for you help! Now I know where I'll be posting my drawing of a sexy snake lady!
MariaEnzianiaKober's avatar
Thank you very much for this article :). I was already asking myself what exactly "Anthro" is. It is clearer now, although I will need to think about it a bit longer...
Um - may I ask where werewolves fit in? I mean - they are (nowadays) a classical fantasy creature. But (depending on the design) they can share a lot of human characteristics.
aPassingDREAMforMe's avatar
So, Anthro is basically an animal with human-like thingys? So, a boar that can stand on it's hind legs and can talk, would that be it?
J25TheArcKing's avatar
Alright then, thanks for the explaining.
DragonSlayer832's avatar
So Anthro Art is  basically a picture that.. Guh I can't explain it
Frappe7's avatar
thank you :D I think i finally have a clear idea about what anthro is now
KimonoBoxFox's avatar
When referring to an 'Anthro' or 'Anthropomorph' What really sets things apart is not strict 'anthropomorphism' ala dictionary; because what we're usually describing when we use the term 'anthropomorph' or 'anthro' is not just 'any' degree of expression of anthropomorphism, but that very specific human-like expression style and subset of animal features, that has tied itself strongly to cartoon animation, and with the Furry Fandom. Animal facial features, merged with human facial expressions. Grins that are impossibly wide for dogs to make, and humanlike eyes, for instance.


Anthropomorphs don't necessarily 'demand' a human-like body frame, either. For example: Georgette, Charlie B. Barkin, and Scooby Doo are all anthropomorphic dogs, despite also being what is lovingly termed 'feral' -- quadrupedal, taking a secondary role to human characters--but  they still make human expressions and communicate through speech; even adopting human characteristics like primping in mirrors, gambling, placing bets on coin flips with their human companions, and the like. Sometimes, these feral anthropomorphs may even break the rules of their body-type, and make bipedal poses like human beings. Check a watch, flip through stacks of cash, grab a sandwich with their forepaws, open windows, and so on--usually in moments of emotional expression. While in other scenes they revert to acting like one would expect dogs to in real-life, even ceasing dialogue.


Particularly, visuals--expression and physical features--distinguish an anthropomorph, more than a yes/no exhibit of anthropmorphism. Traditional mythical creatures, often exhibit dictionary anthropomorphism by definition--anything imagined by humans to be more than it is in real life, in fact, is anthropomorphized, to a degree. Take the Grim Reaper, a humanized embodiment of death. Father Time, likewise. Mother Nature. These beings are anthropomorphized exhibitions of the objects they actually are, but they are not what one thinks of as visually 'anthro'. This is specifically, because in real life, animals are animated and posses behaviors and physical traits, already--whereas abstract concepts like death, time, or nature, tend to demand too many human qualities in order to make them into animate, relatable, beings, to pull that trick off.

The cartoon style of 'anthro', specifically, creates the 'illusion' that we are dealing with some other kind of creature, while tricking us into 'overlooking' the presence of the human traits, and just passively accepting what we're seeing, rather than focusing on it. This is why it's not disturbing that Bugs Bunny can walk around nude. Bugs Bunny isn't a human, but he behaves human, jokes like a human, grins like one, stars in theater shows with Elmer Fudd. And he can just as easily act the other way, as an animal, when it's useful for comic relief, burrowing into a den, escaping being hunted--duck season/rabbit season, etc.

Dragons, on the other hand, kind of play a special role, in muddying up the dictionary use of anthropomorphism. The 'traditional' view of a dragon is widely accepted as intimidating, with a large, imposing, not-human frame, by necessity. Very non-anthro. But as time has passed, these matters have come to change enough by the lore of different mythos, that dragons often exhibit strong features of anthropomorphism in their social behavior--tyrannical personality, eloquent speech, greedy treasure-hording, brood politics--even going so far as to be able to shapeshift into human form in some story settings, but they still fall on the not-anthropomorph side of the line, appearance-wise, based on how sheerly inhuman their overall sillouhette is, their limited level of human-like facial expression and bodily gestures, their dwelling places, their constant animal-tendency to prey on live beings, etc. Dragons tend to be cognitively, but not visually, anthropomorphic. And thus, they are not 'anthro', feral or otherwise.


That of course, needn't always be the case, as evidenced by cute, approachable, scaley-style dragons, which exhibit a greater concentration of anthropomorph traits: Expressive eyes and faces, approachable size and manner, and human-like silhouette. Spike, from MLP for instance, would be an example of an anthro dragon. Maleficent's dragon form in Sleeping Beauty... not so much so, even though it's controlled by a sapient evil fairy. Shrek's Dragon would fall somewhere down the middle, lacking the humanlike movement, speach, and silhouette, but able to make human gestures and facial expressions. In which case it becomes pretty blurry whether to treat her as an anthropomorph or not. Generally, when you can't tell by the character, you judge by the setting the character exists within, and by the other characters in that character's setting, and how they interact. Donkey, for instance, looks like a mundane donkey, but is definitely a feral-style anthropomorph--cracking jokes, speaking human language, making human expressions, marrying the Dragon. Shrek's Dragon is thus an anthropomorphic one, albeit just barely.


Alternatively, in the case of some liminal beings like mermaids, harpies, lamia, etc., you run into the other extreme. The beings in question are simply so human facially, that they do not register as 'not-human' to the mind, even while exhibiting some physical traits and forms of locomotion, of other species. Technically, such beings are 'not' human, and 'are' being applied human qualities--anthropomorphism--but they're so far toward human visually, that our mind presents us the illusion that they 'are', instead of the illusion that they aren't. The 'Monstergirl' anime style revolves around this particular trick of anthropomorphism--non-human trunks or limbs, human facial features. The beings are not human--they might even have some very animal tendencies, like Rachnera of Monster Musume--constantly spinning victims into webs--but facially, we are made to think of them as humans, so the cartoonish 'anthropomorph' distinction doesn't stick here, either.


(Combine the characteristics of such a being with the appearance of the popular furry anthro style, and you then get what are called 'taurs'. Which are anthro. See how 'facially' oriented this illusion is?)


Incidentally, the term for anime-style humans with lesser animal accents; such as tails, horns, ears, etc., is 'Kemonomimi', meaning 'beast ears'. These are not 'anthro' for the same reason as monstergirls are not. Anime-style anthropomorphic animal characters, (and Japanese furry fans themselves), are meanwhile referred to as 'Kemono' -- 'beasts'. These 'are' anthro.

(A 'Kemonomimi' character - not Anthro) static.zerochan.net/Kuugen.Ten…
(A fursuit depicting a 'Kemono' character - definitely Anthro) s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/7…

And that is all for now. Hopefully it was an informative dissertation, and you can see all the various ways that putting human-like qualities in or out of different parts of a thing, changes the style of the character to something other than an 'anthro'.
Kazuki-Chamico's avatar
This should be more see I like your explaination better :|
Baloothebear1000's avatar
Thanks for clarification.
Moltenkitty's avatar
So 'anthro' is simply like a sentient lion, for example~ right ?
Deviator101's avatar
What about an example like Katt or Rei from the Breath of Fire series? What would they be considered?
KimonoBoxFox's avatar
Katt is Kemonomimi--cat ears, cat tail, otherwise human appearance. Rei is Kemono--anime style beastperson. (Rei would be considered 'anthro', but not Katt. She'd probably get a free pass by association, though, if the piece features Breath of Fire chars--most of them 'are' anthro style, with the exception of the direct protagonists, usually, who are mostly anime-style 'humans')
Deviator101's avatar
Actually Katt has a lot of fur and beastial features and she is of the same species as Rei. Its possible that she could be either or in terms of definition.
KimonoBoxFox's avatar
This is speaking lore-wise, though--not in terms of artstyle, which was the topic. While yes, Katt has more animal qualities than say, your typical kemonomimi; an excess of fur on the midriff, clawed feet, stripes on the face--she's facially human, and her body's figure is human. She falls closer to a monstergirl than to a kemono.

Worth mentioning as an aside, is that, in some productions, it's popular to give male characters more animal characteristics than female characters--which would explain for your species lore.
Laco-EO's avatar
Thanks it's very useful I was actually wondering what it was. Once again thanks à ton :3
Cryogenox's avatar
first few minutes on DA and I swear I got at least five new terms in my vocabulary..
GreenLinzerd's avatar
Dragons aren't anthro? Well, I know that traditionally they're not, but what if they are?


Tall and Short by BrownieComicWriter
Cool drawing, did you make that?
GreenLinzerd's avatar
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