|Peter Kelsey's cast drawing of the male torso.|
Hey fellow artists! Drawing anatomy seems overwhelming to me sometimes, but if I focus on strategies for HOW to learn it, it starts to seem doable.
Here are a few tips I learned from a recent article written by Dan Gheno in Drawing magazine:
|Peter Kelsey's ecorche drawing of the leg.|
-Learn the derivation of the words used to name the muscles and bones. The example that comes to mind is the muscle groups called the brachii, referring to “arm” in Latin. In a way knowing theses words can open your mind to visual implications. Arms aren't just arms–they are limbs, branches, cylindrical shapes.
-Don't try to absorb everything at once. Start with learning where the muscles attach to the bones. That makes it easier to learn the relationship of a particular bone to a particular muscle. After all, it is the muscles that move bones. Specific bones move when specific muscles contract.
For me, another good tool for me is a physical therapy book The Anatomy of Movement, by Blandine Calais-Germain. It discusses both muscles and bones as they relate to movement, and is used by my physical therapist (and now me!). It's helpful to keep motion in mind when drawing the figure because you can make the drawing more dynamic if you incorporate hints of motion as opposed to something completely still.
|Jason Espey's figure drawing of the male back.|
Another essential way that I've learned anatomy is to actually draw the form (over and over again!). And there are different ways to do this. In Peter Kelsey's ecorche drawings, he shows the musculature of the torso and leg. The drawings were done from white plaster casts using charcoal and red and white chalk. He took time to light the casts so that the light clearly revealed the form of the muscles. In executing the drawings, he constantly walked around the casts to see how the muscles overlay each other and how they related to each other in space.
Jason Espey went a different route when drawing figures and making a body drawing by sketching the back torso of a live model. Done in vine charcoal, he finished this in less than an hour and drew it for students during an anatomy class. He focused on the torso, with emphasis on the muscles–much like Jason did–to reinforce their shape and position.
Not that I “know” anatomy at this point, but I do find these sorts of tools so helpful to learning it. What about you? Do you have thoughts or examples about ways to learn anatomy that you would like to share?