Tips on Anatomy For the Artist – Why Study Anatomy?  Human anatomy organs

Tips on Anatomy For the Artist – Why Study Anatomy? Human anatomy organs

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Tips on Anatomy For the Artist – Why Study Anatomy?

Why should the artist study the anatomy of the human body? The answer to this question is quite simple. Indeed, without a minimum amount of anatomical knowledge you will never be able to draw people on the fly.

In principle, if we use the so-called grid method to draw the human figure, we would need very little knowledge of the anatomy of the figure. Good observation (or “seeing”) together with the support of the grid suffices to render an anatomically consistent drawing.

However, using the grid method implies that we have a photograph of the subject so that we can draw a grid on it. If you want to draw people on the fly (for example, in the mall or a restaurant) the grid method does not apply. It is here that your anatomical knowledge will come in handy.

Why is this so? Well, it is a fact that all surface features (i.e., the forms the artist is supposed to draw) of the body are determined by what lies beneath the surface. That means, the forms to be drawn are determined by the underlying bone and muscle structures. So, a minimal understanding of those underlying features is in order.

Anatomical knowledge lets you draw every feature of the body with more confidence. Also, when for some reason (e.g., lack of time or clarity) you cannot directly observe certain aspects of the figure you are drawing, you can fill in the gaps by relying on your anatomical knowledge. In fact, this knowledge should serve you well even when using the grid method. Sometimes it is difficult to sort out the different coalescing forms. Very often, observation together with anatomical knowledge will allow you to solve the puzzle.

Anatomy can be studied in many different ways. One logical approach is to start with the bone structure. We could learn the minimum amount about the bone structure necessary to go to the next step, i.e., the muscle structure. From the muscle structure we can easily progress to the surface features it represents. So, a logical progression to study the anatomy of a certain body feature is (1) study the underlying bone structure, (2) from here glide into the study of the corresponding muscle structure, and (3) finally, see how the bone and muscle structures shape the surface feature itself.

It is to be understood that the study of anatomy for the artist is not the same as a “medical” treatise. The point is that for the artist it is the surface feature that is ultimately of concern. Therefore, everything you learn about anatomy should be in function of the ultimate goal, i.e., improving the artist’s ability to draw the surface features of the body.

A word of caution. Drawing the correct anatomy should never become a goal in itself. It should remain an aid to being convincing in your drawings. In other words, there is no gain in trying to be anatomically correct at all costs if you are going to loose your identity in the process. Ultimately, through much practice, your anatomical knowledge should become second nature and be incorporated in your style. Your style should not be cramped by trying to be anatomically correct. The body is more than just anatomy. The sum of the parts is always more than the parts by themselves.

Interested in studying anatomy from the artist’s perspective? Go here:

Anatomy of the Human Body Tutorial. Remi is a pencil portrait artist and oil painter and a skilled instructor. See his work at Pencil Portraits by Remi.

Posted in human anatomy study guide, human skeleton anatomy Tags: 3d human anatom, human anatomy diagrams, human body anatomy, human knee anatomy, human skeleton anatomy

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