Which approach should i take on anatomy?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Question Which approach should i take on anatomy?

    Hello there!
    I decided to start drawing (for real) about 2 month ago.
    I want to be able to draw the human figure, from my mind. Therefore i have been drawing hands, torsos, legs, whole bodies, heads etc. But i don't really feel like i'm learning. So i would like to hear how you approached anatomy when you started out. Maybe you know some good links of muscles or the skeleton also?

    Ps. is it better to draw longer and more accurate drawings? or is it better to do quick 30 sec - 2 min drawings. I mean, which helps you understand anatomy better?

    Hope to hear from a lot of you

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Thanked 1,494 Times in 744 Posts
    I found George Bridgman's approach the most helpful. One of the things you're looking for is a method to break the body into big chunks, easy to memorize and turn in your head, and I found his system did that best for me.

    But you'll need to do lots and lots of observing and drawing real bodies -- preferably in the flesh, but at least in photos -- before you can draw convincingly from imagination.

    I was once on the receiving end of a critique so savagely nasty, I marched straight out of class to the office and changed my major (sketchbook).
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Thanked 32 Times in 23 Posts
    My opinion is that it is more necessary to know how the body is put together than being able to draw all the muscles and tendons from memory, but that's just me. What I mean by that is this: if you were to draw a hand, a wrist and the forearm, it would be to your benefit to understand the shapes that connect all three of those. What are the tendons in the wrist doing, which way is the muscle of the arm twisting, etc. I don't think that for a beginner you need to be able to draw all the muscles and bones like in medical anatomy diagrams, although some artists would disagree with me. It's important for sure, but don't stress yourself about being able to draw a specific muscle mass.

    In my life drawing class, my professor wanted us to be able to break the body down into accurate shapes. You also need to study how the different muscles contract and therefore influence the shapes. Tension and movement are also important, but that's where gesture drawings come into play. I love doing gesture drawings because it captures energy a lot better than a detailed rendering that takes 20 hours. You also begin to get a sense of proportion and how bodies twist when they move. That's where I'd begin. The long renderings come with more skill in seeing just how this flesh is put together. Not to say you can't do both!

    If you can, take a life drawing class. It's a lot easier to observe these kind of subtle nuances when you are looking at someone else. I also recommend going to cafes or malls and doing gesture drawings of the people there. Personally I like to go to classical music recitals and draw the musicians. I want to be an animator, so when I draw random people out on the streets, I try to incorporate some kind of thoughtfulness to my figures (like, can you tell what this person is doing, thinking, how old they are, mood?) but I think that's important for artists in general. Books I'd check out are Hogarth's Dynamic Anatomy and Peck's Atlas of Human Anatomy (although that gets a little more in-depth and medical).

    Remember, ask yourself: how does this work? How is it put together? How does it change as it moves? And how does it reflect what the person inside is thinking?

    Good luck!

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