View Full Version : What/how to study anatomy to do decent in manga/anime drawing?

05 May 2010, 12:08 AM
So i have been studying anatomy but there is so many things to learn about, i'm not even sure if everything is necessary for at least decent manga/anime drawing, since I want to improve on my manga/anime style drawing.

People suggested I should study anatomy and it helps so I am doing that.

I am currently studying from the popular book "Atlast of the human anatomy for the artist" by Stephen Rogers, and I was wondering if some anatomy like bones are even necessary?

I skipped the bones section and am going straight to learning the muscles since it seems like that is more important for improving my manga/anime drawing

Here are the sections:

-Surface anatomy (veins/skin/hair/features etc.)
-Equilibrium and Locomotion
-Distinctions of Age, Sex, and Race
-Agents of expression

It seems like I should study and learn all of those sections but bones just doesn't seem like it is mandatory yet, what do you guys think?

edit: ALSO, this might be a silly (but serious) question, but would you say it is mandatory that i should learn and remember every single muscle/bone in the body? I don't really know how professionals learn and draw, so I want to know. Sorry and excuse me for my idiotness ><

05 May 2010, 05:43 AM
I personally do not recommend anatomy books that are too clinical. What artists need are more of an overview of how the body is put together, how the muscles flex in various poses, and the range of motion of the joints. Skeletons are useful in that you can tell why some spots on the body protrude or curves in the way they do, such as the eye sockets, the elbow, the ribcage, the knees, the ankles, the hips...etc. Muscles alone do not tell you that information.

If you look in the sticky threads at the top of this forum, you'll see one that contains book recommendations--they are more artist-friendly books that aren't not dry or clinical, but practical and useful for artists.

Regardless of what style you work in, you must understand how real people work in order to know how to stylize them effectively. All stylizations are based on real people--whether it's American comic books, Japanese manga/anime, Disney, Sunday paper cartoon strips...etc. If you don't know how real people work, how will know what and where to simplify, exaggerate, idealize...etc?

05 May 2010, 12:20 PM
I absolutely agree with everything that Lunatique said.

1) Yep, what you've heard is correct. In order to draw manga/anime style anatomy (or any style, for that matter), you absolutely need to learn *proper* anatomy first. You can bluff your way through some of it, and many people do, but your work will always look inferior to professional work if you don't learn the basics first. If you don't first learn what the rules are, you can't know how to bend or break them.

2) Not all methods or teachers of *proper* anatomy are effective and/or accurate.

I don't know about the book that you've got, but I know I picked up my fair share of bad anatomy books over the years. Why are they bad? Because a) the artist's illustrations are far too stylised to be an accurate reference for proper anatomy, b) the artist didn't have a good grasp on anatomy and they shouldn't have been allowed to publish an anatomy book, and c) they explain very little about anatomy as is relevant to the artist. They instead spend all their time talking in detail about each bone and muscle. They don't explain how the bones and muscles move to perform a certain pose. They don't show which muscles and bones push against the skin when posed a certain way. They certainly don't explain the paradigm of what's considered normal anatomy, and how this may change from person to person.

More on that last point. I have a very short torso in proportion to the rest of my body. This makes my legs appear longer than most people, yet I'm no taller than the average person. In fact, if I stand next to my husband, our knees will almost line up, yet he's slightly taller than me. He has a longer torso than mine. The average of our proportions would be the 'paradigm' of proper anatomy. Our actual proportions is how this differs. I guarantee most artbooks don't teach this. That's why they've invented life drawing classes.

Don't underestimate the value of studying human anatomy from a live reference. Bobby Chiu- even though his art is far from realistic- regularly rides the subway and sketches the passengers. Learning how to block out basic forms and gestures quickly, and then practicing drawing people on a regular basis will teach you much of what artists need to know about human anatomy. Have a keen eye. If there are any life drawing classes held near you, that may help. Being in an environment where a teacher or other artists can help you better learn to translate what you see to the page.

By all means, collect art books or online tutorials that are recommended by other (experienced) artists, but also remember to study life. The art books will teach you the muscle groups (how the pectorals connect to the shoulder muscles is pretty important for example) and bone structure (the way the leg bones on a female are positioned is a big reason why women have that little bump at the top of their thigh, besides the addition of fat tissue) and basic proportions. Life will show you all the surface detail (wrinkles, which muscles and bone show, etc), different postures people hold (a business person might sit up straight while an old man might hunch over) and how proportions will vary slightly from one person to another (like me and my husband).

Once you're fairly comfortable with drawing proper anatomy, drawing manga will be easy. In my opinion, Manga is 90% fundamental knowledge and 10% exaggeration/style.

Have fun!

05 May 2010, 06:55 PM
Thanks for all the help!
Bookmarking this for future assistance.

05 May 2010, 05:16 AM
I have a question, do you know where to study that stuff? (proportions, how body flexes, what it looks like, etc?)

I'd like to know, thanks!

05 May 2010, 06:13 AM
I have a question, do you know where to study that stuff? (proportions, how body flexes, what it looks like, etc?)

I'd like to know, thanks!

Have you looked at the sticky threads I mentioned in this forum? That would be a great place to get started.

05 May 2010, 02:20 AM
Thank you for the help

CGTalk Moderation
05 May 2010, 02:20 AM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.