Sketchbook Thread of Imagus


Hey, all.

        Apologies for starting this thread without any images, and for its length.  However, I wanted to save a place and set up the thread to motivate me, and to ask for some help getting started.
      A bit of background. It has been 15 years since I began formally studying art, and 12 since I completed my BA degree.  However, recently, I started a sketchbook thread on another forum, just to get myself back into the habit of drawing something, anything, on a regular basis.  The first two comments on my work?
        "You should study anatomy."
        Beginner-level stuff.  It hit me pretty hard.  A decade and a half, and I still can't produce characters that don't get beginner-level critiques?  I wasn't very happy.
        As a bit of background, my art education has been, shall we say, lacking in many basic aspects.  All of my foundational drawing courses focused on rendering what was in front of the artist, with no real attention paid to form or three-dimensional thinking.  There was no anatomy course offered.  At all. In the end, since I really had no idea what a quality art program entailed, I ended up graduating with a piece of paper and a lack of skills I didn't even know I needed.
        Years later, after much failure and frustration, I finally began to get a sense of some of what I had missed out on, especially in regards to rendering the human figure without a model.  To remedy this, about a year and a half ago, I finally got the time and money to enroll in a two-part anatomy course.  Part I, which went amazingly well, focused on skeletal anatomy, and Part II was supposed to focus on musculature.  However, after six years of teaching the two-part course, the teacher suddenly left between Part I and II, leaving the course and its new teacher in a state of disarray, and me still lacking the knowledge of anatomy I sought.
        Which brings us to today.  I have purchased and studied several books on anatomy for artists over the past few years, and have tried to learn it on my own, but I'm having a lot of trouble trying to visualize forms, especially musculature.  For example, right now I'm trying to figure out the arm, but the sheer number of muscles and interwoven, overlapping forms is leaving me confused almost every time.
        I would really like to improve, but the whole subject of anatomy seems beyond daunting in its complexity.  To top things off, I also appear to be a very poor judge of my own progress, possibly due to my lack of solid art foundations - as in the situation above, I often think that I'm doing fine, only to have my perceptions severely checked.  That's where, hopefully, this thread comes in.  I've decided that I really want to be able to render the human figure, from any angle, in any pose.  I want to produce drawings that don't elicit comments like the ones mentioned above.

To do that, I need to learn anatomy. And not just the muscles, bones and forms, but the way to look at and analyze the figure, translating it into images on the page or screen. I need help, not just with the subject matter, but with how to approach and learn the subject matter in the first place.

       And that's why I started this thread.  I hope that it helps me to do just that.

Once again, apologies for the novella, but I hope it gives you some idea of where I’m coming from, and what I need to do. Any advice on how to approach the subject would be helpful to start. Hopefully, some day soon, I’ll begin making some real progress.


Hi and welcome.

First I would say not to confuse anatomy with drawing. Drawing principles are half of an equation whose other half is Anatomy, which makes up the whole of Figure Drawing. I would venture to say that Drawing Principles are more important than Anatomy to drawing. Something I’ve heard said by many teachers is that there are plenty of doctors who know their anatomy, but can’t draw to save their own lives. So there’s something in the equation that is missing apart from just knowledge of muscles and bones.

I recommend picking up Glenn Vilppu’s gesture DVD and possibly his drawing manual. Then I recommend using his techniques and practicing 2, 5, and 10 minute sketches using reference from the 15 Minute Sketchathon thread, / photosets, or just plain Google.

Post your progress here. And if you can, sit in on a life drawing class, just for the practice in front of a live model.


Hi Ed! Welcome!!.. I have nothing to add to Rebecca’s excellent advice. Start posting as soon as possible, and you can count on us (as well as all the other artists who frequent here) to give you all the necessary citiques! I am book-marking your thread!:bounce:

Wish you all the best!!:thumbsup:


yeah, post some of your work. Maybe it aint that bad. lets see first what u got!


Hey, all. Thanks for the responses.

           I won't be able to get to it until later this evening, but I'll gather up some of my (what I consider to be) better recent work, both traditional and digital, and scan/post them up here.  I did quickly rifle through some of my incomplete digital pieces, and there are a few that seem at least presentable.
 I can also include some of the more lackluster efforts and/or the sketches from the other sketchbook thread as well, if anyone feels that it would help.

That would be a refreshing reality check, for once, if it turned out to be true. We’ll see.


Hi Ed, your post really struck a chord with me. I studied art in college too, long long ago, and looking back, my education was definetely lacking. Lots of figure drawing, but no anatomy classes offered. The one I’m taking now, on my own through a continuing ed program, has really opened my eyes. Both to how to draw the figure better - and to how much my drawing skills need work!

My current anatomy teacher is of the same mind as Rebecca - drawing and anatomy go hand in hand. He feels one needs to have a good handle on drawing the figure before learning the anatomy. Makes sense.

Anyway, welcome, I look forward to seeing your work!


Sorry for the delay in posting images… turns out that this week I have the least amount of free time I’ve had in a while. Add in the fact that I can’t find photocopies of my sketchbook that I made a while ago, and it took me until now to get everything ready to go. Looks like a heck of a time to start an anatomy thread.

      There will be a few posts to start, some from life, many from imagination, and some from studies.  As I was going through them, I think I was picking up on some of the inaccuracies and deficiencies I hadn't noticed before, especially in the drawings from imagination.  I've scaled the images down, but there will still be a good number of them, so it may take a moment for them to load.
            [b]Part I - Anatomy Class, September-December, 2006[/b]
            Here is a very limited selection of sketches from my skeletal anatomy drawing course back in 2006. They were all done from life (with items added to "War and Peace"), in a sketchbook with mechanical pencil, 8.5" x 11" paper size.  I wanted to concentrate on the subject matter, and felt that keeping the materials simple would help me do that.  As a side benefit, it makes things a bit easier to scan in as well.
        (The above image is across two pages in the sketchbook)[size=2]

[/size]            [img][/img]
            In this drawing, I was working from a sculpture at an MFA. First, we had to examine and do quick studies of the sculpture from multiple angles, interpreting the position of the skeleton, specifically the shoulder girdle area.  Then we selected a position and created a more detailed drawing of the subject, using what we had observed.
            Final Image:


Here are some examples of character concepts created either during or shortly after I was taking/took the anatomy course. The first was for Michelle Bousquet’s Low-Poly Modeling workshop, the second for Dominance War II. Unfortunately, I did not finish either entry. I also have rendered images of my final progress, but forgot to take them with me for posting. I may add them later.


Here are a few examples of paintings I started in 2007 and 2008. They are at varying levels of completion.

In the first, I rendered a figure in Poser, then used that render as a reference (not a paintover) to create the figure.

Poser Render:

Figure Painting:

Cothing Added:

Additional paintings:


Here are some examples of imagination sketches from last year.

 Some character concept pieces for an anime-themed RPG game:

 And a couple of random sketches from a page in a sketchbook:


Here are some of my most recent sketches from 2008. Most are imagination sketches, but there is also a page related to studying arm musculature. On that page, the two parger pictures are based on illustrations in the book “Anatomy School”, and the rest are exploring the forms from various angles.

  Arm Study Page:

  Other pages of quick, informal sketches:


Very recent sketches, from a small 8" x 5" sketchbook:

(above page is the most recent - from yesterday evening)


As a bit of an addendum, I’ve decided to include the sketches from the aforementioned former sketchbook thread. Most were created very quickly and informally, as the thread was meant to get me drawing regularly again (I had been slacking off quite a bit). As such, similar to the informal pages above, they are probably among my weakest work… but they are also among the most recent.

       From a small sketchbook... about 8" x 5"
  (the above isn't figure drawing, but I did post it in the sketchbook)[size=2]

And that's about it for now... sorry if it's too much, or too little.  Obviously, I've tried to pick the best works from the bunch, except for the most recent sketches.  At the very least, it should hopefully it give you an idea of where I am artistically, even if it's not that far along.



Glad to see you’ve posted. I’d stay away from the anime style stuff and try doing more realistic studies. Take a look at the gesture drawing that I posted to Ayenlou’s thread here. I’d recommend doing a series of 2, 5, and 10 minute poses using reference (see the links posted in the thread above) and do them traditionally. I think your realistic studies are much stronger than your drawings from imagination, and I would recommend working to strengthen your observational and gestural skills by doing the gesture studies such as the ones posted in the link above.

Looking forward to more,



Okay, will do. As you mentioned, when I’m drawing from life, I usually get much better results. The trick is, in the fields I’m interested in, animation and comics, I oviously won’t have life reference available for each drawing, so learning how to visualize form and translate that into imagination drawing will be key, at least once my skills have improved.

   Since anime and comic styles inspire me, I tend to leap forward ahead of schedule a lot, as I enjoy drawing in those styles.  I'll try to rein that in and work on more traditional studies for a while.  Life studies aren't really available to me, so would photos, Poser models, other sources, or all of the above be the best to go with for studies?
   I'll look through the thread you linked to to get an idea of how to proceed with the sketches.  If there are any other threads you feel are worth pointing me to, I'll check them out as well.
   Also, if I notice improvement in my more anime-styled personal sketches, I may post them up from time to time, just for comparison.  It's my hope/anticipation that the realistic life studies will help me improve in all areas, not just realistic life drawing/painting.

Edit: Quick specific question: what does it mean to “draw across the form”? (told you my art education sucked… ;))


Hi Imagus, glad to see you’ve posted some of your work! Some nice studies, I like the arms and skull. I also find it much easier to draw from life, and SO many times I wish I had my own personal model. Here are a few resources that might help you out -
might be good for some quick sketch type stuff?
pay site, but lots of detailed hi-res photos
I think I’m going to bite the bullet and buy this guy. My anatomy teacher has him and brings him into class to help illustrate certain points, and it’s very helpful to see it there, right in front of you, in 3D. I have tons of reference drawings and photos about anatomy, but I keep wishing I had that little dude there when I’m trying to figure something out. So I’m going to shell out the $$$ - an early birthday present for myself :slight_smile:

Keep drawing and posting, looking forward to seeing more!


Imagus, drawing across or around the form means describing the simple volumes of the form (spheres and the like) by drawing across their contour instead of merely up and down the sides. See the link to ayenlou’s thread that I linked earlier and read through that, it should explain what I mean. :slight_smile:

Also I recommend Glenn Vilppu’s DVD on Gesture and his Drawing Manual.


Ah… missed it. Sorry… that’ll teach me to skim. :stuck_out_tongue: I’ll try to get to some studies and post up soon… lot of stuff going on, so it probably won’t be until at least tomorrow.

I’ll look into it, but money’s going to be getting a bit tight soon. The “stuff going on” is me finishing up at my current job. :stuck_out_tongue:

  [b]ceruleanvii[/b] - Thanks for the suggestions.  Good refresher on posemaniacs - remember seeing that a while back in another thread.  The one down side I heard was that, since the anatomical illustrations are mapped onto a static model, you don't really get a good sense of how the musculature and bones react to a given pose.  However, it looks like a good reference for basic placement.
  I also knew about Human Anatomy For the Artist - it's run by the same people as, which I signed up for when I took Steven Stahlberg's Cybergirl 6 workshop. has a much larger selection of pictures, I believe, but anatomy for the artist may have better poses.  I may sign up for one/both of them, just for reference material - any recommendations or information is/are welcome.
  I've also heard of the Freedom of Teach statue, but $199 may be a bit much right now - money's getting tight, and I'm working on getting a new computer (P4's getting a little outdated).  However, I was wondering if you (or anyone else) has an opinion about the "Structure of Man" DVD ([](  It's reasonably priced, and I've been eyeing it for a while.  Obviously, it may necessarily help out with the kind of gesture drawing I'll be working on for right now, but it might be helpful long-term.


First attempt… looks like I was working for Michelin. Was trying to concentrate on drawing across the form, and seeking out circles, but get the sense I’m not really getting what I’m supposed to be looking for… I was focusing more on visualizing solid, three-dimensional forms, but it felt more like drawing around the figure than across it. Anyway…

They aren’t really 2, 5 and 15 minute sketches - more like short, longer, longest sketches - as I really have no way of timing them at the moment. I plan to either pick up an egg timer or download/program some kind of timer software.


hiyas, you’ve done some pretty nice sketches… I like the arm studies too, and the anime stuff. Have you tried any of the Hogarth’s anatomy books? You can find some of Vilppu’s articles stuff online by googling his name. Doesn’t replace books or dvds, but it can’t hurt either.


Hi Imagus,
Nice character sketches you have here! I went through the structure of man dvd’s…they are good as a basic anatomy foundation course, it did help me, but I also still use many books for reference.(anatomy for the artist by Jeno Barclay, drawing the head & figure by Jack ham, and visualizing muscles by john cody)
On that last gesture sketch you did it looks like you got the basic forms down well but they all look too round. The human body has a lot of curves but also a lot of straight like planes too.