When it comes to drawing human figures, understanding human anatomy and practicing anatomical drawing is vital. You need to invest a good amount of time, concentrate and have a good eye for detail to get the perfect drawing. Another important aspect to consider is to be passionate in this field of art. It requires a lot of patience and hard work to reach the depths in this domain, and you can never get bored once you master it. In this article, we will include all the important aspects of anatomical figures and also cover the best anatomy books for artists.
Drawing Human Anatomy
Now the question is, “How to draw a body perfectly?”
Well, there are a few crucial things that you need to learn as an artist that will help you improve your human anatomy drawing skills.
Key Points to Consider Before Drawing
Think, Visualize and Draw:
The very first thing that you need to understand is just don’t take a pencil and start sketching yet. Visualize and think about what you are making and then start drawing (assuming that you already know basic drawing) because anatomical drawing is one of the tough subjects in the field of art.
Understand the basic proportions of a human body. The proportions are determined by the positions of the joints. Now this will be different for a male and a female body. You need to have good observation power to inculcate the right proportions in the body.
Do Not Overemphasize the Muscles:
It is a normal tendency of beginners to focus more on the muscle details when it comes to paying closer attention to the anatomy. Remember that anatomy is not just about the muscles. You need to use muscles only when you want to establish or portray an action where muscle movement takes place.
Don’t Use Symmetrical Lines and Similar Structures:
Make sure that you are flexible while drawing anatomy. Every human body is unique and has different formations. If you observe, one body is more square in structure while one is oval and slender. So while practicing, experiment with shapes to give the figure a defined look.
Coming to the symmetrical lines, there has to be a dynamic flow when illustrating the body parts so that it looks natural and realistic. When you are adding guidelines and points for the initial sketch, do not make it symmetric, it will only add rigidity to the body.
You do not have to add every single detail when drawing an anatomical structure. You need to know which detail to add and which detail to ignore, and this will come with practice. If you accentuate every single muscle, every ridge in the body, or highlight every bone, it will take away the essence of the sketch and make it look artificial.
Use different postures and positions of the human body to gain more knowledge. Practicing multiple postures will help your brain to process the information quickly, making it easy for you to draw.
No matter how much you read about human anatomy, the ultimate way to get perfection in your work is to practice as much as you can.
Now you, as a beginner, are probably stressed out by the number of details and information that you need to digest before you become a pro. Well, don’t worry as we have curated an entire list of things; ranging from the best anatomy books for artists to tutorials to courses., for both beginners and experts.
Importance of Anatomy Drawing for Character and Concept Artists:
Creating animation starts by drawing. Understanding the fundamentals of anatomical drawing is pivotal, even if you are working on character illustrations and 3D animations. Even the VFX artists from Marvel Movies have to work on their anatomical drawings to build the animated characters the right way. You need to know about how the body parts are connected, the proportions, understand the muscles, the bones, the arms, the limbs, facial muscles, etc.
Now the question is, do you have to be an expert in drawing anatomical structures? No, you don’t. But what you need is a strong idea about the whole concept of human anatomy if you are to give your characters the appropriate 3D or 2D effect and make it look realistic.
While creating animated characters, the illustration artists often change the ‘actual’ proportion of their character’s body or figure to give it an emphasized or extraordinary look. However, you can only do this the right way if you know the actual proportions of a human body so that it looks interesting and not awkward.
So, now that you have an idea about some of the basic things that you need to keep in mind when making anatomical drawings, you just need to keep working on the human structures and keep practicing them to improve your skills. If you do not know where to start from, then the next section of this article suggests some of the best anatomy books for artists for easy learning.
What Are the Best Anatomy Books for Artists?
Understanding human anatomy can be tough, even when you are trying to draw from a real-life human model. You can memorize the proportions, the shapes of the body, the features, etc. but you need to have much more in-depth knowledge of human physiology to get your techniques right. There are a lot of intricacies involved in a human body like the muscle details, the joints, the tendons, bones, etc. which you can gain knowledge from the various books on human anatomy created by some renowned and experienced artists.
With that said, if you are having a hard time understanding the anatomical structures and want to know how to draw a body starting from the basics, here are some of the best art anatomy books that will provide you information on anatomy and guide you to the step-by-step process of creating anatomy drawing the right way:
Anatomy for Artists by Sarah Simblet:
‘Anatomy for the Artist’ is one of the best-selling books on the art of anatomy drawing which has been created keeping in mind every detail that you require to understand the wonders of the human body.
Sarah Simblet has divided this book into various sections or chapters wherein each section covers a different part of the body that imparts intricate details about the body including the bones, skeleton structures, the muscles, tendons, etc., and the different techniques on how you can draw these parts perfectly.
This book has been well-designed with descriptions as well as real-life human illustrations that can make you feel like having a real-life art studio when practicing anatomy drawings…no wonder it stands among the best anatomy books for artists category.
If you want to perfect your skills in anatomical structures, then this book is worth investing in. To get this book online click here.
Drawing Human Anatomy by Giovanni Civardi:
This book is yet another top-selling one that comes under the list of the best anatomy books for artists. It includes comprehensive techniques on how to draw a body with ease. This book breaks down the information into separate parts and gives you descriptions of each part like the skeletal, the muscular structure, the articular systems, and more.
It teaches you easy-to-learn techniques on how you can draw the bone structure, muscle movement, body postures in a way that you can get your drawing anatomically correct.
This book offers numerous illustrations along with descriptions that make it simple to understand and provides easy learning for the artists. You can also learn some shading techniques that will make your drawing look natural.
This is an 80-page, concise yet useful book for amateur as well as professional artists who want to fine-tune their sketching skills on human anatomy and use it for references and inspiration.
Click on this link if you want a copy of this book.
Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis:
An excellent book for understanding the fundamentals of the human body, this book is popular among a lot of art school professors. They recommend this book for their students who want to follow classic methods of learning the art of figure drawing. The author of this book provides useful insights and a practical approach to understanding the anatomical structure by taking accurate measurements and helping you understand the proportions.
Andrew Loomis has included some realistic exercises within this book for the artists to work on, so they can feel more confident about what they learn.
You can use this book as a reference while you practice your style of anatomy drawing using your skills.
If you want to purchase this book online, you can click here.
Atlas of Human Anatomy for the artist by Stephen Rogers Peck:
This book on human anatomy for artists is one of its kind and has great demand when it comes to professional artists polishing their anatomy drawing or amateur artists starting with the basics.
This book includes a good amount of technical details along with diagrams on different parts of the body consisting of the external anatomy like the head, arms, limbs, etc. as well as the bone structure, the muscles, and more. While the information on this book may be a bit too technical, the illustrations are pretty simplified. The best thing about this book is it helps you develop your drawing skills on different kinds of bodies right from a newborn baby up until old age, including the different facial expressions.
Definitely a great asset to add to your collection! Click here to get your copy.
Human Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form by Eliot Goldfinger:
This guide falls into the best anatomy books for artists category as it is pretty detail-oriented with ample illustrations that you can refer to, but you need to invest a good amount of time to go through this book for optimum utilization.
You obviously cannot read it all at a time, nor should you do that when you are practicing anatomy. You have to go step by step and deal with a lot of patience. Therefore, this book is going to be a great reference guide for you.
Every illustration in this book is accompanied by a detailed description for you to understand the concept better.
Click here to check out this anatomy book.
Figure Drawing: Design and Invention by Michael Hampton:
A great book on anatomy for artists for strengthening their fundamentals! This is a perfect book that will train you to draw from your imagination and as well as from a life model- both of which are very essential in anatomical drawing.
This book has simple illustrations of how to draw the various parts of the body in simple and easy-to-understand techniques employing different shapes, which is very beneficial for someone who does not know human anatomy.
Artist Michael Hampton has simplified the concept of bones structure and the muscles by breaking them down using conceptual illustrations that will help you to set your foundation in human drawing.
You will get this book on Amazon by clicking here.
Anatomy for Sculptors Understanding the Human Figure by Uldis Zarins with Sandis Kondrats:
Classified among the best anatomy books for artists, this is a useful guide for VRX artists and 3D animation artists as it is 3D rendered with different angles and orientations of the same structure. It provides a very to-the-point and concise description of what you should do and what you shouldn’t when drawing an anatomical structure.
Not to forget, this book also shows the difference between a male and a female anatomical structure, which can be helpful when sketching a human body the correct way.
Even though it is made for 3D sculpting artists, this book includes a good number of simple yet useful illustrations of the anatomy and live models to demonstrate the body structure from different angles that any artist can use to refine their skills.
Get this book here. (Many people have advised to go for the printed version of the book and not the Kindle version, as the illustrations may not be very clear due to low resolution).
Force: Dynamic Life Drawing for Animators by Mike Mattesi:
Understanding human anatomy plays an important role when you are working in the animation industry. The author has designed this book, keeping in mind both novice and professional 3D artists, Illustrators comic artists including students who are pursuing fine arts.
The main focus of this book is to unravel the techniques of dynamic anatomy sketching and how you can create different poses and postures of the human body, which is a key in the animation industry.
Following this book will not just teach you how to draw a human body, but also strengthen your imagination on how you can create powerful characters on your own.
Mike Mattesi, the author, is a professional production artist who has mentored and worked with some top animation clients in the industry like Marvel Comics, Disney, Dreamworks, Nickelodeon, and more. So now you know where all this is coming from!
If you want to purchase this book, click here.
Anatomy for 3D Artists: The Essential Guide for CG Professionals by Chris Legaspi:
This book has been beautifully constructed by first starting with the concepts within 2D modeling, so you can understand the basics, and then transitioning to 3D perspective. This book has been divided into several sections and has been categorized into male and female anatomical structures teaching dynamic life drawing. It is classified among the best anatomy books for artists for its amazing transition from 2d to 3d figures.
Preferred by many CG or VRX artists, game designers, and character designers, this book is a must-have in your art library.
Click here to get this book.
Classic Human Anatomy: The Artist’s Guide to Form, Function, and Movement by Valerie L. Winslaw:
An expert in anatomical art, author Valerie Winslaw has included the details of bone structure, muscle movements, and joints in a simplified manner with suitable illustrations.
This is a great book when you want to learn advanced anatomical drawing skills classically as it gives you a structured detail on how the muscles function, the movement of the muscle in different poses, etc. You will also gain a fairly good knowledge about the different body proportions and how you can use shapes to sketch a body perfectly, which is a key to learning anatomy drawing.
You will get this book here.
Apart from the best anatomy books for artists that have been detailed in this section, some useful online videos and courses can nurture your skills in human anatomy drawing. The next section of the article will cover some of those ancillary resources.
Some Useful Tutorials and Courses
- Here’s a 28 minutes tutorial on “How to Study Anatomy Correctly – Construct the Body”.
This video tutorial by Proko covers the basics that you need to consider when drawing the human body. It gives you tips on how to draw a body perfectly by understanding the different layers in a body out of your imagination without looking at a reference.
You will also learn how to apply the 3D effect to your drawing, which will give it a realistic look. This tutorial is very niche and is focused on drawing human limbs in different muscular arrangements. So if you want to polish your skills on human limbs, this can be a useful one.
This tutorial by Richard Smitheman is suitable for beginners who have absolutely no idea about figure drawing. You can see You can learn the dynamics of the pose, and how you can make it visually appealing yet getting the details correct.
He also describes in detail why he is using those steps to draw the figure, which is very helpful when you need to understand the basics.
- How to Draw: Drawing Human Anatomy: This online anatomy drawing course takes you through easy steps of drawing the human body by breaking them down into individual parts for ease of understanding.
You will also receive some useful materials like videos, copies of photos, and files used in the training. Click on the link provided to get more details on the cost of the package, the subjects covered, etc.
- Anatomy Master Class: In this course, you will learn how to draw figurative art and portraits right from the scratch by understanding the basic anatomy and gradually transitioning to the higher level.
You need to make a one-time investment of $97, and then get a lifelong membership free with access to all the training materials, tips, and guides to drawing human anatomy and realistic portraits.
Some Famous Artists Who Have Done Anatomical Studies and Drawings:
Leonardo da Vinci
The concept and importance of anatomical studies and drawing human anatomy goes back to the past from during the Renaissance period when Leonardo da Vinci, the famous ‘Mona Lisa’ artist, and anatomist started with anatomy drawing during his time. He strived with Andrea del Verrocchio, an Italian painter, and sculptor, and it was then that he started showing an inclination towards studying human anatomy. He started dissecting the human body himself to understand anatomy to improve his skills in drawing human figures, and it is said that he did it for almost 20 years. Furthermore, he started by drawing skeletons, muscle structures, and then moved on to sketching different organs of humans and other animals.
Michelangelo, a master sculptor of his times, had a keen interest in conceptualizing human anatomical structure. He started dissecting human bodies at a very early age and went on to study advanced anatomies like the nerves, muscles, and the different proportions of the body. Apart from this, he drew from real human models and studied different human sculptures and carvings to improve his anatomical skills.
Edgar Degas, a renowned artist from the late 18th century, was famous for paintings, sculptures, and human anatomy drawings. His interest in human anatomy was different from that of other artists. His love for drawing and painting ballet dancers reflects his modernity when it comes to art. However, his artwork related to the ballet dancers focussed on the human structure, the human body movements, the physiological details involved in different postures of the body. He has created over 1500 artwork that focuses on the anatomy of ballet dancers.
Käthe Kollwitz, who is a German artist from the expressionism art movement, is well known for sketching and painting the lives and conditions of people who are in poverty, hunger, or at war. She was more focused on capturing people’s (working-class women’s) expressions, emotions, their gestures and their body on her canvas when these women would come to her husband or her for help. Her work reflects honesty and depicts social commentary.
To conclude, anatomy drawing and figurative art need a lot of time and patience to reach a level of perfection. This article counts down the best anatomy books for artists that guide you to improve your skills in drawing human figures perfectly. But no matter how many books you follow or refer to if you want to draw a realistic human figure that is anatomically correct, the golden rule is to practice more and more. Another important thing that you need to remember is, do not to copy exactly what you see. You need to recreate the drawing based on your imagination and skills to bring a natural effect.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s):
Comic artists do need to have a solid foundation of the basic concepts of anatomy to draw characters. To manipulate the body of the characters or deviate from the actual body proportions, knowing the actual anatomy is important.
There are a lot of books that are suitable for beginners who want to learn Anatomy drawing from scratch. You can refer to this entire article on anatomy for details.
The best way to get better at drawing the perfect anatomy is to observe, research, recreate and practice.