Making Muscles look Organic.
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    Making Muscles look Organic.

    Any tips or tricks on how to do this? I have a good grasp on the basics of figure drawing and anatomy but it seems every time I draw my figures with muscles on them everything is anatomically correct but my character looks like it could be found in educational anatomy books instead of comic books or video games. I understand characters in comic books have slightly exaggerated proportions but I want to make the muscles look interesting instead of just there.

    Some examples of what I am talking about would be David Finch's work.

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    You need to learn which muscles are activated in the pose that you're drawing, and which are not. Muscles that are tensed have a different shape than muscles which are relaxed and together these observations will add weight, rhythm and life to your drawings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barn8799 View Post
    Any tips or tricks on how to do this?
    Life drawing.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Barn8799 View Post
    I have a good grasp on the basics of figure drawing and anatomy but it seems every time I draw my figures with muscles on them everything is anatomically correct but my character looks like it could be found in educational anatomy books instead of comic books or video games.
    It might also help if you posted your actual drawings to the crit section.

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    This^^^^
    Why do people always say they can draw everything they are having problems with correctly but it doesn't look right? If you are able to draw them correctly you wouldn't have the problem. So post some of your work in the WIPS section or Sketchbooks and link back so we can see what is actually wrong.

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    ^^^^ All of this! And yeah...it always baffles me how people say they understand or can do such and such...

    So tips and tricks:

    Tip: Engage in study, research and understanding for a few years.

    Trick: Don't stop.

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    "The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes. The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to the situation in which less competent people rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence. Competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."


    And I'm not sure if David Finch is the best example when it comes to drawing natural and believable looking bodies, if anything he's the type to draw every person like a 6% bodyfat bodybuilder flexing as hard as possible. His works looks cool and gritty if you're younger, but it's a lot of style over substance imo.

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    First know the anatomy, and the form (brigdman), as you draw constantly from life. When you draw distinguish bone, tendon and muscle from one another. Make sure you understand that muscles are in reciprocal relationships with one another, that is, when one is flexed, the opposing muscles is extended. Be hyper aware of how some muscles will be flexed, some muscles with be extended and some muscles with be flaccid (limp) with every pose. It will help if you have a good sense of your own physicality, so being involved in athletic activity or other is a good idea. Make sure you interest in drawing anatomy doesn't trump the expression of the figure. In other words, don't get bogged down in muscles and bones to the detriment of the feeling or gesture of the pose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    First know the anatomy, and the form (brigdman), as you draw constantly from life. When you draw distinguish bone, tendon and muscle from one another. Make sure you understand that muscles are in reciprocal relationships with one another, that is, when one is flexed, the opposing muscles is extended. Be hyper aware of how some muscles will be flexed, some muscles with be extended and some muscles with be flaccid (limp) with every pose. It will help if you have a good sense of your own physicality, so being involved in athletic activity or other is a good idea. Make sure you interest in drawing anatomy doesn't trump the expression of the figure. In other words, don't get bogged down in muscles and bones to the detriment of the feeling or gesture of the pose.

    kev
    Thank you this is the answer I was looking for man you've been a great help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barn8799 View Post
    Thank you this is the answer I was looking for man you've been a great help.
    Awesome! Now go do it!

    And bravo to kev for using the word flaccid in a sentence. I'm sure we're all very proud. (there's never the right kind of emoticon when you need one).

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    "Make sure you understand that muscles are in reciprocal relationships with one another, that is, when one is flexed, the opposing muscles is extended." Not quite. Flexing, movement toward the front of the figure, and extending, movement away from the front of the figure, are both types of work which muscles perform. When a muscle is working, whether flexing or extending, or rotating, its opposition muscles will be at rest. The forms of working versus resting opposing muscles are the crucial things to look for in achieving an "organic" look. For example, the biceps flexes the fore-arm with respect to the upper arm, the opposing triceps muscle rests. The triceps extends the fore-arm with respect to the upper arm, and the biceps rests. A muscle performs work like flexing or extending by pulling its insertion to its origin, insertion and origin being the names we give to where muscles attach to the skeleton. This pulling action causes a muscle to become shorter, fuller, and rounder than the muscle would be at rest. Thus when flexing the fore-arm with respect to the upper arm look for the working biceps, dominating the front portion of the upper arm to be short, full, and round, while its resting opposition muscle, triceps, which covers the rear portion of the upper arm, will be comparatively longer and flatter. With extension of the fore-arm biceps becomes the longer, flatter muscle, being at rest, while working triceps becomes shorter and fuller, just not to the same extent because extension of the fore-arm is checked by the locking of the elbow. This occurs throughout the figure. The left-hand external oblique muscle rotates the rib-cage to the left with respect to the pelvis, becoming shorter and fuller than the external oblique muscle resting on the right side, which becomes longer and flatter as a result of the pulling of the working left side oblique muscle.
    Oh God. I think I just found an exception to the "muscle pulls insertion to origin rule". The external oblique originates from the lower portion of the rib-cage and inserts into the pelvic crest. This would mean in rotating the rib-cage with respect to the pelvis the origin is pulled toward the insertion! Man, wish that'd occurred to me when my sculpture prof first proposed that rule 30 years ago...ah, it's still a good rule of thumb. One thing about rotating muscles for sure; in form they spiral from origin to insertion, like the external oblique.
    To make a long story short, in drawing the figure you can play the shortness and fullness of working muscles against their comparatively flatter and longer resting opposition muscles to achieve a sense of rhythm and flow and so avoid stiffness.

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    You are making some valid points, Cory, but you're simplifying it way too much.

    Muscles are never at full rest as long as the creature is alive. If a biceps is flexing the arm at elbow, the triceps will not be fully relaxed; some of its work is still there, maintaining the posture. If it were possible to engage just the biceps without having the triceps serve as the antagonist, you'd flail your forehead with your hand, painfully, every time you tried to raise your forearm. What enables controlled motion and posture is the antagonist muscles pulling against each other; motion is caused by increase and decrease of muscle contraction on the different sides of the joint, not by simple relax-then-pull.

    But that's not all, yet. The muscles also have to anchor what does NOT need to move, for you to perform a controlled movement. If you are flexing the arm in the elbow, the muscles of your upper arm, neck, chest, forearm also work - holding the shoulder and wrist joint in place. If they did not, then trying to engage just the bicep would simultaneously flex the forearm and lift the upper arm (and rotate the forearm inward). Remove this anchoring action (for example, by rendering a person unconscious), and the joints get released all at once and the whole form collapses in a heap.

    But even that is not all. You are saying that the muscle pulls its insertion point; in reality it pulls both its insertion and origin points, depending on whether your current fulcrum point is. If you raise your face, then the trapezius will pull the skull while the collarbones will be kept in place by the pectoral muscles; if you shrug, it will pull the collarbone while the skull is kept in place by the spinal muscles. If you are standing, the external oblique abdominall will rotate the ribcage; if you are hanging on your hands, it will rotate the pelvis. That is, if you don't engage other stuff. Muscles pull their origin points all the time, it's not an exception as you seem to think. Origin/insertion points are just terminology useful to create a common communication context but the organism does not care about the distinction.

    Often what is called a single muscle isn't even a single muscle; the deltoid is really three separately controlled muscles that share their insertion point, and the trapezius is four distinct muscles. You can have a motion where the "gross" trapezius will be its own antagonist: for example, pulling the shoulderblade toward the spine.

    Add to this that muscles don't just have to work against themselves, but also against gravity.

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    Also -- particularly with over muscly bodybuilder types -- muscles look different when the whole body is warmed up and thoroughly exercised than when relaxed. When he wasn't pumped, Arnold looked soft and round.

    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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    Extension is not limp.

    I should have included static tension as a muscle state, as suggested.

    As an addenda, since a human being is never out of drawing, it is very important to use live or photo reference in your work wherever possible if you want to prevent incorrect anatomical dynamics. However, the more dynamic the expression of your figure, the less possible it will be to find exact reference to suit your picture. And the more you will need to rely on knowledge of life as filtered through your imagination to solve the problems of your image.

    But be warned, this self-reliance can quickly lead, if one is not diligent in life studies, to awkward, badly faked anatomy and nonsensical lighting and form.

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    Thanks much, you guys. While it hasn't been all of 30 years since my last formal study, clearly I need to hit the books again.
    Arenhaus, the way I understood the deltoid was as a single muscle with three portions having a common insertion into the humerus but originating from the clavicle, the acromion process, and the scapula. As such, all three share some functions, but each also has separate functions in concert with other adjacent muscles. How does this compare with what you wrote?

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    Don't Google Argue. Stick to giving the kind of advice that is unique to this site, matters of art craft learned through experience and training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    Don't Google Argue.
    What does this mean?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cory Hinman View Post
    Thanks much, you guys. While it hasn't been all of 30 years since my last formal study, clearly I need to hit the books again.
    Arenhaus, the way I understood the deltoid was as a single muscle with three portions having a common insertion into the humerus but originating from the clavicle, the acromion process, and the scapula. As such, all three share some functions, but each also has separate functions in concert with other adjacent muscles. How does this compare with what you wrote?
    The three portions of the deltoid are separate functionally, and in most animals they are separated anatomically. It is more fused in a human being than in other animals. If you look at a horse or a cow, you'd see three deltoids; in a human, you'd see what appears as one encompassing the shoulderblade, shoulder arc and collarbone. But if you look at the structure, you'll see that the part connected to the shoulder arc has a "braided" appearance due to zigzagging short oblique fibers, and the other two have long straight fibers. The whole bundle is fused, but the smaller-scale structure is retained. Nerve control is separate for the three parts, too.

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