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  • Writer's pictureMathew Thomas

How to learn anatomy

Updated: Jan 20, 2019

The aim of this post is to tell you about the drawing practice I've started to improve my anatomy skills.

Anatomy has always been a huge challenge for me. For years I've been trying to improve and while there has been progress there are a lot of areas I still haven't improved in, at all. So after watching a lot of videos and reading a lot of books. It all came down to a lack of patience and an unwillingness to practice the basics.

Now what are the basics. From my knowledge these are what they are

Gesture Drawing

The most basic part of developing good anatomy skills. What I've learned is this practice differs according to what you're trying to learn. I will be focusing only on the movement of the pose. If you have been practicing drawing anatomy for a while but still find your poses very stiff or not relatable at all then it is suggested you practice this. The focus is only on the motion .  ITS HOW THE POSE FEELS NOT HOW IT LOOKS.

Photo credit : The art of David Pimental

However, this isn't that easy, especially if you've made a lot of works copying references since you're always focusing on the tiny details or trying to get the drawing to look just like the image you're copying. I know, cause when I tried to do it, it was so hard. My mind kept telling me this isnt how it looks and its so hard to go against what you've been practicing for so long but I believe this part is fundamental to improving your skills in anatomy. I'm following this  video by Proko. BUT BEFORE THAT you should know gesture is and I recommend this  video to help you understand

Stick man vs.Contour man this is also something you should go through for another approach on gesture drawing

Understanding Forms.

Once you've gotten used to identifying the flow of movement its time to add mass to the figure.  You'll need to learn how the muscle groups work for this to work. If you've tried leaning anatomy before then you have already seen multiple variations of the mannequin that people use to build their figures.

Photo Credit : Proko

These videos by JazzaSycraProko go through their process. Whichever model you choose its important you know how they've simplified the body. If you're using their models then when you're trying to block in the figure remember how they dealt with each muscle group and bone structure so that you're able to apply it to any pose. If you can't find any of their models usable you may amke your own but you can't really simplify figures when you're starting out. Maybe after practicing a while with their models, analyse why it doesn't work and then try to modify the mannequin accordingly. I personally have not reached this stage as I write this, I am still focusing on finding the movement of the pose. You can be sure however, that as soon as I reach this part I will be making detailed notes on how to handle it

Adding in the muscle groups

Its time to flesh out the details. Don't rush to get to this step. Unless you're comfortable drawing the block figure in any position you won't find it easy or satisfying when you add in the muscle groups. Take the time and learn it slowly. DON'T RUSH. Speaking from personal experience, I rushed and now I'm investing all my time in learning the basics again. The current plan of action for me is to do 100 poses as gestures for 100 days (starting 23rd Sept,2018) . More on that in another blog post

A page from Dynamic Anatomy by Burnes Hogarth

Dynamic Anatomy by Burne Hogarth is an amazing book which deals with this. Figure Drawing For All Its Worth by Andrew Loomis is another book which touches this subject really well. Again due to my lack of knowledge on the topic I won't be going too in depth into this. There is a lot of great content out there by many amazing artists. Just google and you'll wind up with so many resources you won't even know where to start. I personally believe its impossible to go wrong with Andrew Loomis even though there are quite a few who say that his books are outdated, I haven't come across any other author who discusses concepts in such detail.

Lighting and Clothing

This is like the final touches. Again completely inexperienced to talk about this subject. This book by James Gourney is one of the most recommended books to study lighting by many artists. There are also many amazing tutorials available on the internet for you to study. Again Andrew Loomis touches on this topic in his book Successful Drawing as well as Figure Drawing For All Its Worth. There are other ways recommended by many artists to study lighting and that is Master Studies. Not something I've practiced ,yet , so I'll link to this post by CG Cookie which will tell you all you need to know on learning how to do master studies.

As for clothing. there are tutorials on Pinterest that tell how the folds of the cloths should be in accordance to the figure pose. Again master studies can be applied here as well. Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery by Burnes Hogarth is an excellent book on the topic of clothing as well.

And with that I'll end this blog post. Due to my inability to speak about many of the topics covered I've linked to various other resources that can help you. And that's what I want to convey through this blog. Its about how I build up my experience but I also want to try and provide value to as many of my readers as possible. You can be sure I;ll have in depth tutorials for each of the topics I've covered as soon as I reach that level,

As always guys, leave me a comment and tell me how I did, if any of you learned anything, how I could deliver my content better, or any tips you have. Subscribe to this blog so that you don't miss out on any content and I will see you in the next post

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