Please help, i dont know how to study anatomy!!

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  08 August 2009
Please help, i dont know how to study anatomy!!

Hi ,
I tried books and tutorials but with no use i also tried to keep in mind the shape of every muscle .......... how could i study anatomy ???
  09 September 2009


Get out and go and look at people and animals in motion. Try to visualize how their anatomy works to propel them along. Look in your books about the muscles of the arm then go see if you can tell how those muscles are working on the people you see. Take a sketch book and try to work it out in quick pencil work as you watch. Then go home and think of a motion such as a person throwing a rock. Think to yourself what has to happen to the underlying anatomy to produce this motion. See if you can convincily draw that motion, then go out and check your work against real life. Books are fine to teach you the structure if anatomy, but you need to go out and see real anatomy in motion to begin to understand how it works.

Mr. D
  09 September 2009
To study art is to draw


Just reading about anatomy is not going to help you much when drawing. I first tried it that way but it didnít get me far. What works for me is a combination of knowledge and practice. I usually start with analyzing the form of the part I am studying. And with analyzing I do not mean looking at it and thinking about it. I analyze with pencil and paper, I draw. I try to figure out the basic forms of construction. This means simplifying the form to basic masses. I draw the schematic of these basic forms and change my point of view, draw again the schematics and keep doing this from different vantage points and keep correcting it till I think, I got a clear view of the forms involved. Then I step away from the form and try to draw it from memory without ever looking at the form. It is amazing how much you think you know and how little you remember when not seeing it. It is a good indicator how well you really understood the form. I then look back at my previous drawings and the model and compare them to the one I did from memory. I correct my drawing from memory. Turn away and draw again from memory but now from a different vantage point. I keep repeating this until I am able to draw the form from every possible angle from memory. Mind you up to this point I did not include any detail, I am studying the main forms and nothing else. This process sometimes takes days or even weeks depending on the complexity of the form involved. I started the skull a year ago and although certain parts I can dream now, there are still parts that I have to give a second look.
For an example of what I mean with schematics, take a look at Gotfried Bammes, his book is full of schematics, they will show you what I mean with simplefying. Or you can take a look at constructive anatomy from bridgeman or dynamic anatomy from hoggart. I personaly like bammes better but these two other books will serve you just as well.
But donít just draw from books, look at real 3d form and simplify yourself, make your own schematics, it will not only help you with anatomy but with drawing in general.

I use the plaster models at my academy and my girlfriend for this purpose. If you are serious about studying I advise to get at least a skull, preferable a real one but otherwise a plastic cast.

When I got the basic forms in my memory I start reading through my anatomy books. Learn all the names and functions of the parts and try to connect them to the schematic form I have put into my memory. Then I go back to drawing but this time a long elaborate one, this drawing I shade very carefully, include all details and try to keep the overall form reading. On a drawing like this I usually spend between 5 to 30 hours depending on the complexity of the part I am studying.

And you have to come back to it, repeat it, even after you think you mastered it. It is like learning a foreign language, if you donít use a word it slowly moves from your active to your non active vocabulary and then when you need it you canít recall it or have forgotten it all together. The only way to counteract this is by using the word repeatedly. Learning anatomy is in that regard not much different from learning language or anything else for that matter; once you learned it you need to keep repeating. If you draw people a lot this shouldnít be a problem since you see the forms every time you pick up a pencil, but it still doesnít hurt to refresh your memory once in a while by sitting down and drawing some anatomical models you think you allready mastered.

When I starting to study anatomy, I figured that by knowing anatomy, I would create a shortcut to better drawing. But as soon as I started I found out that it is anything but a shortcut, on the contrary it requires a lot of study and it takes a lot of time to master, and in the end it will be just another tool to my arsenal.

But an indispensable tool nonetheless and I really enjoy the process of studying, it is like an adventure every time I take up my pencil or go through a book. The beauty of the human (and animal form) reveals itself more and more every time I sit down. Even on those painstakingly long hours when I just donít seem to get it right.

I am still in the process of studying anatomy, last year I only studied the head and the next half year will be for the neck and the skeleton after that will follow the muscles of the body.

Good luck studying


Last edited by Andre Hanegraaf : 09 September 2009 at 06:41 AM.
  09 September 2009
Life drawing

Korpus School of Art + Gallery
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  09 September 2009

thank you very very much for your time to write all of this and Mr. D it is not the first time to help me , thank you.
  09 September 2009
get some old school Play-Doh or some clay and try sculpting... might help you visualize anatomy.. its hard at first, and you quickly realize you cant get it to look as realistic as the real object so your instinct is to revert to simpler shapes.. which helped me look at objects in a more simpler fashion and not worry so much about the details...

ps: dont forget Play-Doh is also really fun, Crecent moon is still the best shape! and my favorite.

Last edited by Redwolf : 09 September 2009 at 11:18 PM.
  09 September 2009
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