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I'm learning the fundamentals of drawing and I'm starting to work on anatomy. I feel pretty lucky that my wife also needs to learn anatomy for college, so I have my self a study buddy and I already know about the medial supracondylar ridge and about 15 other muscular attachment point on the femur.
By the way, this is the site I'm using to learn:
To my understanding, I should not only learn the shape, but also the function, and I guess how bone and muscles react to each other.
I was watching a video on youtube about muscles that cause the scapula to elevate or depress. It was really cool and motivating to me...
This is awesome, and I guess the more I learn the more I will understand it's application to drawing.
Could anyone give examples of how they have applied their knowledge of anatomy to their drawings.
Studying anatomy is really fun and its great to see another person getting into to it. I am no anatomy or drawing expert, but I've gone through a few anatomy and figure drawing courses in school and I've picked up a few things.
First, learn why you want to study anatomy. Is it to improve your art or for another, more personal and/or medical reason. My anatomy teacher in art school made that distinction clearly. Anatomy, for artists, is a tool to aid and give strength to your drawings. However, it should not be studied alone, but rather as a supplement to your figure drawings (try to do them from life, if possible. If you live in the US, there are tons and tons of places that offer drop in sessions with models. Meetup.com is a great place to find some.)
When you are learning musculature there are 3 general things you should keep in mind. The first is where the muscle originates and were it inserts. With that, you can tell what its function is. The function is really important for giving action to your work. try to notice what muscle groups are used for jumping, for climbing, for running, for punching...etc. The last thing, which is extremely important for drawing, is the form of the muscle. How thick is it, what is its shape and size, how would it look as a 3D model. Once you start doing that, you will be able to invent muscles from imagination and start to notice them more in the models.
I would stay away at first from medical sources of anatomy, and look for references on artistic anatomy. Michael Hampton in "Figure Drawing: Design and Invention" does a wonderful job in turning complex muscles into simple forms. Loomis is also a good source and its probably one of the most recommended books in these forums.
good luck! =D
Ultimately it's a matter of learning how to resolve gesture into construction, which means learning how things relate to each other in a proportional three dimensional framework, and how to see this framework in the model. As always, focus on big things before little things - e.g. make sure you learn to see and record the ribcage as a whole in the model before worrying about any smaller details of the torso. Michael Mentler's thread here shows his approach:
I too am learning the fundamentals of the anatomy. Properly started learning this about 6 months ago and I am just getting to the muscles of the femur and ulna.
What I would say from the video you posted is that its very informative but do not spend a lot of time with too much of the details. This is one of the things I have learnt so far.
Another thing to add is practice a lot of gesture drawing. It really loosens you up and I picked this up from life drawing I just started attending recently.
This is a lot of advice out there but not all of it is good believe me.
Keep up the work and draw draw draw... that's what the pro's say.
That youtube video is great! I also like this Anatronica site, helps you delete (or transparent) the muscles and see the muscles underneath and where they connect.
Free>The Muscular System>Upper Region
The plugin installs within a minute and works in your browser. Make sure you try clicking on the "R" circle and the blue box. Once the muscle disappears you can click on the muscles underneath and rotate in any direction you like.
thanks for the vid... great to watch.
yet i think the importance of anatomy, if it comes to picture making, is way less than it is proclaimed. it definitely further enhances credibility and visual invention, but knowing where which muscle originates, attaches, how it exactly works and what its stupid latin name is, wont help your picturemaking as much as knowing the general primitives and volumes that make up an (eg) arm visually.
once youve got some knowledge up your belt if it comes to basic volumes, balance, energy, rythm... study anatomy... why not. but until then its rather futile knowledge imo. and even then id rate composition, storytelling, value-treatment and so forth much higher, than this "geek stuff" .
take a look at kevin chen, ron lemen, or e.m. gist to see what im trying to get at.
You simply cannot read the figure well enough if you don't understand what you are seeing. And you can't construct it well enough if you don't look for the bone landmarks, which are often covered in any given pose so you have to know where to look.
The body is not composed out of simple volumes, ultimately. It is a shifting framework of sheets and spindles that slide and breathe. You can lay a figure down quickly using a few quick boxes and tubes, but if you don't see the breakdown of these envelopes into elements, you'll forever be a slave to reference and not even be able to use it that well. You'll miss important landmarks and latch on incidental detail - I see that all the time in people's work.
im doing this tube thing all the time and i dont know a single latin name for any muscle, bone, etc. and i cant remember when ive been told i should learn anatomy the last time... *shrug*
all im trying to get at, is, that its quite often the first thing people say when a character is lacking... learn anatomy and i think thats rather rediculous, because as said, to me its not the first thing, not even the second or third to learn. most of the time its a matter of not beeing able to draw cohesive proportions and volumes. i think of it along the lines of going from big to small, breaking up the basic volumes with anatomical information instead of making them up with that information.
i nowhere said that anatomy should never be tackled... just that other things are more important and should be learned first.
I'm not sure what your trying to get at either. Are you saying that a student should learn more about composition and storytelling "first" then learn what kind of stylized figures you want to make to help reinforce their pictures?
Are you talking about taking a contour silhouette of a figure and then breaking down the different parts of anatomy? After you break it down to more detail, wouldn't you then want to refer to some anatomy to help make sure it's correct? ...... I'm not sure what your getting at.most of the time its a matter of not being able to draw cohesive proportions and volumes. i think of it along the lines of going from big to small, breaking up the basic volumes with anatomical information instead of making them up with that information.
Last edited by Bowlin; July 4th, 2012 at 09:33 AM.
... learn how to draw basic volumes in correct perspective before even thinking about all those bones, muscles and other organic matter. why would you attempt to draw even more complicated volumes before that? its bound to fail.
... learn about the elements and principles of design, use them to compose your pictures (and/or figures). you could possibly end up knowing every muscle, yet your drawing would suffer from lack of design and your knowledge would be presented badly. youre bound to get frustrated. (< there would be composition)
... learn how light affects form and how we percieve it, how to shade. again knowing every muscle, your drawing would be flat and again all that knowledge is wasted on a bad drawing.
... learn about storytelling and how to create certain moods, impressions and reactions. (< composition again)
... learn about color
... learn texture, material, folds, ...
and then think about which organic matter we re built of and how it sticks together.
i know thats pretty subjective, but my opinion on the importance-ranking of knowing anatomy .
i dont see why doing it beforehand would be so much more beneficial...
Well of course it all depends on what kind of method your really going for, if your trying to draw figures more from memory or more from reference (photos, life, models, etc.) or somewhere a combination of both.
The list you made, I would put design as the most important, then everything else is learned in whatever order you want, to whatever degree you want, to make the type of pictures your aiming for. If you study anatomy to the point of a medical student trying to be a doctor and your trying to make Calvin and Hobbes type of cartoon characters, then yeah, it's more information you going to need. But learning too much anatomy isn't going to hurt and break you. You just may not need it for how you stylize your figures.