Project: Structure | Research point – anatomy

Look at anatomy books or do a web search for anatomy images and see what you can find. Make notes on how you can use this information to improve your figure drawing.

book-coverMy friend Stella has loaned me Anatomy for the Artist by Jenó Barcsay (Little, Brown 2004) and this looks such a useful resource that I have ordered my own copy. It is a thoroughly comprehensive guide to the skeleton, muscles and joints of the body, and also looks at how the neck and spine moves, facial angles and a range of movements including swinging, twisting, walking and running. It also examines the centre of gravity and proportions, including both adults and children and the differences between males and females.


It’s already become apparent to me that some of my drawings don’t look quite right because the limbs don’t always connect in a totally natural way at the shoulders and hips. It can only help to gain some understanding about what is going on under the skin.

To me, this isn’t a book to sit down and read in full. Its value is in having a sense of what it covers and then knowing where to look for help with anatomical detail when needed in order to make my figure drawings more believable.

These are some sections that I feel I could find particularly helpful.

Hands and feet, nose, eyes and ears

hands1It’s not necessarily easy to go and stare closely at a life model’s nose, eyes and ears, or for that matter their hands and feet – they are likely to feel their personal space is invaded.



feet1At this stage in my learning I find feet and hands difficult to draw and have a tendency to avoid them or to just draw a fuzzy outline. There are some excellent illustrations that will help with this:

  • Joints and movement of the hand and fingers p50
  • Joints and movements of the foot p130.

eyes-earsneckEyes, mouth, nose and ear


Movements of the neck

p 242


Pages 273 and 284



New to me, this Italian term describes a human figure posed so that the weight rests on one leg (called the engaged leg), freeing the other leg, which is bent at the knee. With the weight shift, the hips, shoulders, and head tilt, suggesting relaxation. (Imagine a mother standing with the weight of a baby on one hip.) This creates natural looking poses and was much favoured in ancient Greek statues. p296

foreshorteningThere is very much more to this book, including detailed studies of the trunk and lower limbs. As it was produced for artists rather, than medical professionals, it gives a lot of useful illustrations showing the effects of foreshortening, for example. I’m glad to have discovered how valuable this kind of resource can be.



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