I was once told that just copying the pictures from an anatomy book isn't enough. Should I be drawing the muscles from memory or what?
Well, how do you think you'll learn the best?
A usual technique is first draw from reference/copy and then putting the image away and drawing right from the memory again. Rinse and repeat.
Also memorizing the muscles as larger masses (as in, not every single muscle separately, but which form larger masses that are visible even with skin on) should help.
Also you should be drawing them from life too.
work from life; nothing will teach you form faster than seeing it in reality. pay attention to how the muscles of the life model flex or rest depending on the pose. Mix that with book study so you know what muscles you're looking at and how they work.
Spend time building an eclectic library, study everything, every book, method, draw your self in the mirror, then find the skeleton and then the muscles. Understand the forms and then their fuctions. Try everything; embrace failure and trust your instincts.
You could always try reading the anatomy book as well as looking at the pictures
If every method more or less bogs down to the same, basic principles, why not apply different ideas to fill the gaps of other methods? Let's say you want to assemmble a hierachery of starting principles for your anatomy studies to build upon, like: perspective > proportion > mass conception > anatomy. You search through all your books, look though different methods and ideas surrounding this and draw from life. I don't know of any better ways to learn, than to simply be curious, hard working and thorouh.
Lot depends on the student and their style of learning. What's 'best learning method' for student "a" may not be the best learning method for me. With me, for example, anything with a lot of text, forget about it, ADD kicks in like crazy, and I think in pictures, not words, so it's like pulling teeth. That's why I prefer visual arts to, for example, literature.
OTOH, I'm really good at visual and auditory learning, and also deconstructing things.
Someone else, loves to read about things, and the process, and of you show them a picture they are helpless to figure out how it was done.
Both ways can ultimately lead to super successful artist, just following different learning paths.
Something I like to add to this kind of question/discussion is the important thing to learn is how to see and draw form. If it helps you to study anatomy then great, just don't lose sight of the purpose, which is to be able to draw (in this case the figure). People easily get caught up in "must learn anatomy/muscles/bones" before I can draw well.
To use another music analogy it would be like studying how guitars are made, strings manufactured, types of wood used, etc. instead of just picking the thing up and practicing. Now maybe knowing all that would help a bit? IDK...probably not a whole lot though, at least compared to just practicing.
Though the basics are the basics, it does help if you know what sort of work you want to do. If you want to draw superhero comics, you'll pay attention to different things than if you want to do portraits.
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).
No problem - yes, music theory may be a better analogy, IDK really. My basic point is that it is very easy to get sidetracked from the important, core thing you're trying to accomplish, which is learning to draw. It's easy to spend a lot of time and energy in the wrong direction, fooling yourself into thinking you're "learning".
I would guess there are more people who understand music theory but don't really play than musicians who play well but lack depth in musical theory...though perhaps this doesn't apply to "classical" musicians.
Anatomy is defined as the body structure of an organism. Drawing anatomy isn't really about studying the bones, muscles what they all look like alone etc..... just how they effect the human body and form. If you know what the bones/muscles wrapped around the arm add to a figure and all the ups and downs, when you go to draw it there's knowledge to put into it.
It depends a lot on what you want to do though. I imagine more so for those that need it for drawing figures from imagination. For example comic book artists might be a good example because you know they didn't get a model or someone to pose for every frame they do. Especially something like super hero comics where the figures are bulging with muscle. If you know what something looks like you can alter the figure just from your imagination because you have the knowledge.
Random thing I didn't even think about. I'm no expert on older masters but didn't Michaelangelo dissect bodies and draw them from a young age?
I shouldn't have said Superhero. I almost forgot how bad many artists are in the super hero comic book game at anatomy and are notorious for it. Not all though.
Though you gotta remember the world of comics is very broad
Though if most artists don't study anatomy, books like Bridgman wouldn't be among the most suggested. Anatomy for artists isn't about knowing what the muscles and such themselves look like. But if you've read Bridgman he goes into every detail of the form, "form is given to the shoulders from the deltoid muscle that is an almost perfect triangle, it's apex downward and wedging into the arm" etc etc etc...
I think from another thread I remember you've read Bridgman. It's about learning the form it gives. Some artists want to go full detail others just want to learn general anatomy. Either way it's something that you have to learn some of as an artist if your drawing figures. Though it does not take an afternoon to master the human forms anatomy. You can also learn this from life if you pay enough attention obviously but not everyone can draw people when they like, though obviously if you only draw from a book you won't learn that well.
Last edited by JFierce; December 19th, 2011 at 01:38 PM.
Get many books, do as many drawings from them as you can, figure out how certain plates help/don't help. Draw from Brigman, draw from kChen, draw from life, draw from Richer etc etc etc. There's no mystery to it, really. I've found that if I don't get Bridgman's drawings, it's because I don't have knowledge of the forms he simplifies, which means, I have to find plates that provides more details and then draw them untill my brain "get's" it.
At least, that's what I would do when I try to draw figures from imagination...just feed the brain with info by doing what the guys in the books did and then place that layer on top of the simplified "3d manekin" that kchen, bridgman etc provides. Just do tons of studies. It's like learning scales and modes and intervals and chord structure; all of it serves to grant you more freedom to be spontaneous and to improvise.
When you apply this to life drawings, it'll give you more confidence, because the brain knows what to expect.
But everyone has their own way. I can only insist (perhaps to a fault) on the things that has helped me.
Last edited by AndreasM; December 19th, 2011 at 03:55 PM.