Sort of a dumb question, but what did/do you do to learn from anatomy and figure drawing books? Do you just go through, reading the text and copying the drawings? What techniques &c. do you use? How do you 'memorize' forms and the way shapes change from different angles?
the way I've used Loomis and Bridgman (haven't gotten to look at any of Hogarth's stuff) is pretty much what you said: read the text and copy the drawings down. I usually try to fill up a page or two with studies of a single body part, trying to just match down the proportions and the way they drew it well. after that I usually put the book away and try to do a few from memory. really helps to ingrain basic body proportions into your head.
The way that I've used them is to not only read and copy the drawings( although I must admit I was a little lazy about the copying part) but to start to look for the information in real life. Look for those muscles on the model. Check out that chicks gastrocnemius as she walks while checking out her other parts. This way you will start to look for those muscles from a wide variety of angles. It will also help you in doing them from memory because you have actually observed them in different situations.
The book I use is R.G. Hatton's figure drawing. I don't copy any of the drawings, but I try to understand the choices he made to describe form in his drawings. In the beginning of the book he explains his drawing method, which makes this process very easy and a lot clearer than most other figure drawing books, for example Hogarth. Learn the bones first, get a model skeleton, the form of the bones foreshadows the look of the muscles that go over them: The outer condyle of the humerus goes up about 1/3 of the bone, it looks a lot like the brachioradialis which attaches there; the condyles of the femur foreshadow the calf muscles(gastrocnemius) which attach there.
I've also found Niccolaides contour, mass and modelled drawing exercises useful when first studying the bones. Make use of perspective and build your drawings on the page, striving to understand the forms in 3D. Every part of the body has a characteristic simple form, but the choice of these forms is rather arbitrary and must be chosen according to the needs of the pose, for example the upper arm can be considered as a cylinder, two cylinders, or a prism, these types of ideas can be swiped from master drawings take a look at "Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters". Remember that in order to simplify you must first have an idea of the complex reality, only then is there an idea to simplify and that only comes from life drawing. The better aquainted you get with different methods of drawing/thinking the more your mind will automatically pull and store information even when you're not drawing. Another book which I consider a neccessary evil is Richer's Artistic Anatomy, there are very accurate drawings which are worth copying and can be used for constructing perspectives.
Good question, and a good answer armando. I don't know R.G. Hattons book, but i wholeheartedly agree with the Hale & Nicolaides suggestions. In the beginning its most important to know how to draw humans, and you don't need a lot of anatomy for that. Later on, you can use your anatomy books to build your figure in a more complicated way, starting with the ribcage, adding the pectoralis major in front, building the shoulder girdle on top, laying in the trapezius etc. Then you can go on to the more complicated stuff
Also going to lifedrawing classes is always a good idea.
The best approach I've found so far, is too copy the drawing, the same one over and over, till your understanding it. This is the traditional approach to drawing and painting, I believe (copying master paintings). It's hard to really "get" all the forms in antomy, even though you've drawn it all before. The goal is to pull it from memory, so the best way to memorize it is constantly repeating it, till you remember it and understand it in 3d. Also painting from life, doing the exact same setup (like still life, for instance) ... doing a painting, then put it away and do the exact same painting, trying to "push" yourself into making it better. At first it's boring and hard to do, but helps you realize how to refine a painting, anatomy and so on.