Anatomical Drawing Question

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Figure Painting. 2010. Gouache and acrylic on watercolor paper, 9 × 12″.

I should have another post later today regarding my "big news," but in the meantime, here's an answer to an email from a blog reader about improving one's drawing:

Thanks for your question. First of all, that's quite a long time to be drawing without seeing any marked improvement. Without knowing your situation in any detail, I can give only the most general advice. Still, it could be useful, so here goes:

If you've never taken a drawing course, perhaps now's the time. You don't necessarily have to enroll as a full-time student at an art school, as many institutions provide continuing education courses. These may or may not include instruction, but sometimes just having a set schedule, some friendly competition, and access to a live model can make all the difference. Also, drawing every single day can't hurt.

The next step, especially if you want to do the kind of artwork that I aspire to, is to find a good source for anatomical information. My favorite book is Stephen Rogers Peck's Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist. Not only does it feature all the important details of the human body with beautiful illustrations, it shows how to utilize that information to create a convincing whole.

And finally, I think the best way to learn anatomy is to sculpt it. I've covered my technique in several previous posts, so I encourage you to take a look. Once you've seen the figure and reproduced it from all angles, your mind will have a much better grasp of all the relationships between neighboring parts of the body. Even stylized anatomy can be helpful, since gesture and proportion often trump technicalities. Perhaps you have a toy or model that you'd like to emulate? Try reproducing a limb or a hand—something manageable—to begin the process. That way you know exactly what the goal is and, therefore, where you stand with your own skills.

Hope this helps. Best of luck!




  1. I don't think guessing anatomy is possible. I mean, without seeing and knowing how it works.

    Unless you're some kind of super-thing.

    Besides, drawing from life is so fun!

  2. You can do it, there's just no guarantee that you'll be successful in the end. But you're right, if you don't like drawing from life, then comics (and art) probably aren't for you.


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