This lesson's theme could fill an entire curriculum on its own. Anatomy is taught across multiple courses and teachers from different fields, be it an art school or online course. It's not odd to see art students gathered around art museums studying sculptures as the old master sculptors were particularly accurate with anatomy when it came to human anatomy.
But why exactly artists, no matter their medium, should learn anatomy? Many may think that anatomy studies only matter to medical studies. Artists create their artworks using various styles, and not all aim to realism. Some styles are more cartoonish and semi-realistic, so why does anatomy matter?
In this lesson, you will learn the basics anatomy, such as things to consider and breaking down a reference photo of a model.
Understanding how the body is built helps construct and draw characters when there are no references available. A knowledgeable artist can break the body into basic forms, just like building blocks, and manipulate the form into a new pose.
Anatomy studies aren't only meant for realism, but understanding anatomy is the cornerstone when creating entirely new characters from imagination and even combining animals to make new creatures. The main goal is to make the artwork look natural and believable.
The Hulk and zombies are excellent examples of characters that have relied heavily on anatomy knowledge. The Hulk has massive, exaggerated muscles, but he still looks natural, as all the muscles are in the right places. Drawing without any real understatement and just copying the references leads to mistakes and misinterpretations.
Also, keep in mind, that the body parts can look totally different from different angles, so start with simplifying the anatomy, so you can draw it from any angles possible without a reference.
Studying anatomy starts from the structure. It starts with the bones and continues through the muscles to the skin.
Skeleton stays fairly the same from human to human, there are small differences between men and women and some illnesses can also cause changes, but overall starting with the skeleton is the basis of anatomy studies. When the skeleton is there, even if simple lines, it's much easier to put the muscles and fat over it, which truly makes people look unique.
The human skeleton has 206 bones, the smallest being in our middle ear and the longest being the femur bone. Zoom in on the picture to study it closer.
The basics that the artist should learn is where muscles are attached to and what their primary functions are. When muscles contract, they work in pairs, when the other is active, the other is relaxed. For example, the bicep muscle activates and tightens when flexing while the tricep is relaxed. Conversely, extending the arm causes the triceps to contract and the bicep to relax. So, when making a scene with action, keep in mind that muscles contract and should express action.
One fundamental aspect when drawing natural humans is to draw proportions right. Fortunately, there are some tricks that help beginners and professionals alike. The images below demonstrate a common way of drawing proportions that can be used when designing other humanoids, like elves, as well. Change the height and width measurements, but keep the proportions related to each other and you have a realistic humanoid.
A simple way to start is to break down the body into simple forms, like building blocks. The head can be just an oval and the neck a cylinder. They are easy to draw from any angle. The upper body can be just a rectangle.
Set up your drawing medium ready for this part of the exercise. In this exercise, you get to practice drawing models from reference images. The main point during the exercise is for you to develop your eye to see how the bodies are built from different shapes and forms. The video below has three reference images and demonstrations included to show one way of breaking down the image.
You can use the references yourself by pausing the video if needed or you can get more reference photos from sites like Line of Action or Quickposes.
Tähän tulee video, joka on haettava Risestä.
Setting the references close to your actual drawing area helps to keep the focus on both at the same time and it's easier to compare them. Start with the head and add a cross to it to perceive the direction better. Draw a rough sketch of forms and add more detail when the drawing has the majority of the outlines set in place.
Using an eraser or otherwise manipulating the drawing to make it better is not wrong, as then you have noticed flaws and fixed them to resemble the reference even closer.
Studying anatomy is a long journey; it's a marathon, not a sprint. Human anatomy is complex, but you can get away with a lot if you have the basic knowledge of it.
However, if you are going to create more artwork focusing on humans, concentrate more on anatomy studies and try different ways to draw people.
Next, let’s look at different art styles.