I’ve been teaching life drawing to animation students since 1986. That’s a long time and it gives you a bit of overview of what is essential for a good life drawing. Of course there are a number of things, but of all of them anatomy comes out near the top of the list.
Gesture is No. 1 since without gesture there is no life to the drawing.
Close behind is Anatomy. And looking back to all my classes and now forward to more workshops I wish to present I came up with this list of the 10 things about anatomy I feel all artists, whether student level or professional of many years should know.
My workshops will either survey the list or focus on any of the 10 points, but in the end, I feel they are all important.
No. 1 Skeleton Skeleton Skeleton. Skeleton matters most
You don’t have to get the skeletons out of your closet, but you should definitely get them into your drawings. Skeletons are the basis of structure and the root of form in the body. No skeleton – no real body. Come see how the skeleton really isn’t that scary to draw.
No. 2 Joints define movement – know the different types
Bones may be long or short, straight or curved, but it’s what at the ends that matters most. How they move against each other dictates what the body can do. Whether it’s a simple hinge or ball and socket, or something a bit more complicated, it all makes simple sense once you understand it.
No. 3 Pelvis is core – all movement comes from the pelvis
It’s a funny bone (not Humerus at all) with lots of curves and twists, but in the end whether a gut bucket or propulsion platform, it’s vital for the root of movement from the toes to the finger tips. Come see how it works.
No. 4 Spine is not the back – it is the internal stem
No, it’s not the back. It’s the tree trunk of posture and balance. How it bends, twists and turns lets the body be either as stiff as a stick man or as rubbery as contortionists. Which every way you put all 26 of these little blocks together, they make sense and more importantly, make movement.
No. 5 Muscles as cables – puppetry and balloons
We think of muscles as chunks of mass filling out the body. But whether a 90lb weakling or a steroid monster, the muscles are the same: like stretched balloons just waiting to be inflated by movement (or steroids). It’s the cables that move the bones that make for dynamic characters.
No. 6 Bone, muscle, tendon & fat. Landmarks or Confusion.
The body has a lot of bumps, even the smoothest body. It can be confusing. And as it moves, so too the bumps. Come learn the difference and to know when and where to make more bumps or take them away. Learn to make sense of landmarks.
No. 7 Muscle trains – how gesture flows through the body
Change the direction of your head, and if you’re standing, there’s a train of muscles that go right to your toes. Muscles never work alone. Learn how this train relates to the flow of gesture through the body.
No. 8 Muscles run in straight lines unless –
Unless of course they have to go over or around something. That something would be bone or other muscle. These straights and curves give grace of form to a body or make for more dynamic pose.
No. 9 Skeletons don’t differ much – bird, animal or human – they’re almost all the same
Yup, they’re basically the same. Birds have arms much like us and cows stand on their finger and toe nails. We win and we lose a few bones, but we’re very much alike.
No. 10 Form follows function – carnivore or herbivore or human
Whether you are chasing after your next meal or you’re the meal running from the chaser, or you’re just the couch potato munching on a snack watching it all, your form from skeleton to muscles is defined by just that – carnivore, herbivore or gamer.