How do I learn artistic human anatomy?

I’m trying to learn anatomy for drawing and CG purposes. I’m trying to teach myself but every time I look around online I find a book that just gives you references.

Is there a method to learning human anatomy? Or is it just you kind of guessing how to draw it by drawing from reference. Is there any book that makes it clear by showing each muscle in it’s relaxed, stretched, and compressed form or something like that?

I’m very confused on this. Any help would be appreciated.

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4 comments

  • The old adage is ‘learn from the masters’.

    Anatomy for artistic purposes is not as complex as you seem to feel. The majority of ‘real’ portraits or poses that you’ll deal with will probably not have the muscular definition you might expect. Count the number of male acquaintances you have with a well defined six pack. Check out a mister universe contest and compare their muscular definition. Some of the muscles on the extreme contestants will be extremely rare.

    The whole trick with anatomy is in the relationship of size and position of one part of the body with another. There are of course ‘rough’ ground rules. For instance, in a front portrait of a person’s head the eyes are ‘usually’ about half way between the chin and the top of the head. There are also ‘rough’ ground rules for the rest of the body. The first person to analyse and put this down in documented form was Leonardo Da Vinci. (Study the masters). Another person who had it under his belt was Michelangelo. Some of his female sculptures were believed to have male models.

    When it comes down to it a safe rule is that the male sex has broader shoulders and smaller hips than the female. The muscular definition is usually more apparent on the male than the female. The only specifically sex oriented details are the way the face is depicted. A female and male in the ‘average’ face have certain tell tale layouts. This, however, you can see for yourself when observing a person directly.

    Don’t look for the complex. It’s unnecessary. In the final analysis it is how you observe things and how you want to depict them. Basic rules and your own observational skills are all you need. Trust yourself.

  • Take a life drawing class…

  • I learnt by copying various pictures, and this is over years. You aren’t going to learn it in a day, it takes a lot of practise to learn how to do it and do it well.
    I have also taken a life class which was very useful.
    Try find a good anatomy book. One that also has skeletons, which will show you the structure of the body. I find that this gives me a better understanding of what I am drawing.

  • Draw and look. However this is a good web site:

    http://drawinglab.evansville.edu

    Get some books too. I strongly recommend Janos Barcsay’s Artistic Anatomy and Jack Hamm’s Drawing the Head and Figure.

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