In order to draw the human figure well, you need to have a good knowledge of human anatomy. Yet many artists today still hang on to the myth that good figure drawing does not involve studying anatomy. Perhaps the reason so many artists feel this way is because they never saw first hand what a big difference a little anatomical detail can make to their sketches.
In this article, I’d like to give you some quick but important points about the human body and how they pertains to your figure drawing.
Of all the aspects of human anatomy, the muscles will undoubtedly have the most impact on how your drawings look, as it is at the very surface. One thing to remember about muscles is that they always pull; every movement that you make is the direct result of one or more muscles contracting and pulling on your bones. What this means is that when the figure you are drawing is engaged in dynamic action, you must pay attention to the muscles involved and depict them accordingly.
For example, if you are drawing a boxer who is throwing a right hook, you must ask yourself, “Which muscles are pulling in order to make this action possible?” Then you would draw those muscles as flexing. In this case, the flexing muscles would be the pectoralis major, the deltoid, and the biceps, to name a few. In most cases, a particular movement will involve multiple muscle groups and the more muscles you can depict, the more convincing your drawings will be. Without this, your drawings will look static and lifeless.
Your ability to recognize and draw these muscles will improve as your knowledge of anatomy increases. As a beginner, you might only be able to draw big muscles like the bicep or shoulder, but as you progress in your study of anatomy, you’ll be able to add in finer details like the supinator longus and the anconeus. This will give your drawing an extra dimension of realism.
Just a light knowledge of anatomy can do wonders for your drawing. For example, there are many muscles in the neck but there is one particular muscle that artists should pay attention to. It is the sternocleidomastoid. It connects behind the ear and attaches to the collar bone. This muscle is very prominent and can be seen on almost everyone. Simply by adding this one muscle to your drawings of the neck, you can instantly make it ten times more realistic. This should show you how useful human anatomy is to the figure drawing artist.