Human anatomy drawing studies

One thing improved my life drawing more than anything else, that was studying human anatomy.

The strange thing is, it didn't only help with drawing people.

Studying anatomy is more than learning bones and muscles, you're training yourself to look deeper into your subjects, to understand them below the surface.

When you know your subject it shines through in your drawings, it makes them come alive.

Lines gain purpose, you need fewer marks, and you can draw faster.

I find the drawing process becomes more sculptural.

Occasionally, when I'm in the zone, I feel drawing becomes three dimensional, I lose all sense of the flat paper and my pencil just follows around the form in 3D space.

It's truely an amazing feeling.

Torso muscle study

Torso muscle study

Medium: Black and white charcoal on toned paper.

Creation time: 20 minutes.

This was a short study of the back and arm muscles of a male model.

The human back has complicated anatomy so it's worth spending time to study it. There are many layers of muscles and the shoulder blades are highly mobile so they can appear in vastly different positions depending on the position of the arms.

It's useful to know which muscles are working in a pose and which ones are at rest. Showing this in your drawing can help convey movement or action.

Female hand study

Female hand study

Medium: Black and white charcoal on grey paper.

Creation time: 1 hour.

This drawing is a study of a female hand.

I focused most of my attention on getting the tones right. By drawing with black and white charcoal on the grey paper you can deepen the shadows or bring out the highlights and this achieves a 3D look.

Even though this drawing is smoothly rendered you still get a sense of the tendons running down the back of the hand to each finger. It's this kind of detail that can make a drawing look real.

Asian girl standing pose skeleton

Asian girl standing pose skeleton

Medium: Pencil on tracing paper.

Creation time: 30 minutes.

This was a drawing exercise designed to help us visualise the human skeleton when life drawing.

We completed a normal life drawing first. Then the model stayed in position while we drew her skeleton on tracing paper over the top.

To help us we had a real female skeleton positioned next to the model in a similar orientation.

Arm and hand study

Arm and hand study

Medium: Pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 15 minutes.

There's actually a lot of anatomy in this drawing.

You can see the elliptical shape where I marked out the position of the rib cage. This was probably the first line I drew on the paper.

You can also see a lot of boney landmarks along the model's arm including the outer end of her collarbone at the shoulder, the radius and ulna protruding at her elbow and wrist. There is also a lot of work in the form of her hand and fingers.

This was from my first day drawing after a three months break. I was a bit rusty so it took me longer than normal to get everything captured.

Girl seated hand study 2

Girl seated hand study 2

Medium: Charcoal pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 20 minutes.

This is quite an unusual pose because her hand is covering her face, but the whole reason behind this drawing was to study hands.

I was not too concerned about anything else. Even so, I like how the rest of the picture has turned out anyway.

Hands are very important for conveying emotion in a drawing because they often reflect the way the model is feeling.

Are they relaxed?

Clenched?

Are they gesticulating or performing a task?

Hands tell a story.

Girl seated hand study

Girl seated hand study

Medium: Charcoal pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 20 minutes.

Another female hand study. That is why her hands are drawn in more detail than the rest of the picture.

Hands can be so expressive.

If you look at old masters drawings and paintings, the hands often communicate what the person is thinking or doing quite accurately. It's a shame that today we tend to overlook this useful trick while creating art.

I believe that the hands in this drawing really help to capture the mood of the artwork.

Reclining leg study

Reclining leg study

Medium: Black and white charcoal on gray paper.

Creation time: 1 hour 30 minutes.

I was really proud of this drawing at the time but now I don't like it as much. I think I could do a lot better today. There are a lot of little sloppy bits. =)

Tonal hand study

Tonal hand study

Medium: Black and white charcoal on grey paper.

Creation time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Studying the hands and practicing my tonal rendering with black and white charcoal at the same time. I think I'm getting better slowly.

Girl leaning back

Girl leaning back

Medium: Charcoal pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 25 minutes.

Just a simple sketch.

Muscle Study

Muscle Study

Medium: Charcoal pencil on art paper.

Creation time: 12 minutes.

I don't get many opportunities to draw muscly models. A well built person has so many interesting shapes. It's a lot of fun to try and capture them.

Girl Standing Sketch

Girl Standing Sketch

Medium: Pencil on white art paper.

Creation time: 1 minute.

Just a quick sketch.