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Best practice advice for capturing human anatomy

Drawing the human body without some knowledge of anatomy is like playing a board game without the rule book and some key pieces missing: It’s frustrating and confusing. After you learn all the rules and get good at the game, you can change the rules. But that’s because you understand the dynamics of the game and you can change things to improve it. 

Being confident with anatomy makes drawing easier and more fun! In this workshop, I’ll give you some advice to guide your anatomy studies, so you can learn how to draw people accurately, and with confidence.

01. Think first, then draw

Scribbly lines are a sign your brain is still processing the image

Anatomy is very specific and the difference between a drawing that’s ‘right’ and a drawing that’s ‘wrong’ can be subtle. If your drawings are scribble-like and you don’t commit to any one line, your brain is busy just processing the image, so it won’t notice anatomical mistakes. If you’re studying anatomy, you should have a good foundation in basic drawing skills already, and you should use it.

02. Ignore gesture at your peril

Gesture is still essential for capturing convincing figures

Gesture lies at the heart of every figure drawing. Anatomy should be a new layer, and a new way to express gesture… not a replacement for it. The anatomical forms should be designed to follow and reveal the gesture. 

03. Memorise the simple forms

Break down the shapes into simple forms

Break down the shapes into simple forms

The human body is organic. It’s full of curves, bumps and mushy-looking things. But your drawings shouldn’t look mushy. You can try to copy exactly what you see, but if the understanding and accuracy isn’t there, then it will show. 

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