Anatomy is a subject dear to my heart, and drawing and modelling anatomical forms is a skill I’m always striving to improve. With that in mind I wanted to write a post about some of the resources that I have found most useful in improving my anatomy knowledge, as well as sharing some of my own studies.
The above are a couple of quick sculpts I did in blender over the weekend using one of my favourite anatomy books, Burn Hogarths Dynamic Anatomy, as a reference. Dynamic Anatomy is by far the most useful book in my anatomy library (though the title of favourite would have to go to Bridgmans The Human Machine), and I encourage anyone with the remotest interest in improving their anatomy knowledge to hit the bookstores and pick it up. I wanted to highlight it in particular because unlike other artistic anatomy books with more 2D focussed styles such as Bridgmans, Hogarth was such a master of constructing and rendering the figure in three dimensions that his drawings make excellent reference for traditional and 3D artists alike. The way he draws the forms of the muscles and anatomical landmarks is really readable and clear, so they make excellent reference for modelling and sculpting in 3D.
As a bit of background, Burne Hogarth was the illustrator behind the original Tarzan Sunday comics and graphic novel, and his mastery at drawing the human form (and at teaching his students to do so) was what popularised the idealised human form that became the archetype for comic book heroes which persists to this day.
Dynamic Anatomy is full of beautiful illustrations of all aspects of the figure, as well as drawings of heads and faces that are great to look up and study when sculpting. It also has a good mix of male and female figures, something a lot of anatomy books miss out on.
A few of my other favourites are any of George Bridgmans books, particularly Constructive Anatomy and The Human Machine. Bridgman was sort of the grandaddy when it comes to modern art education, his list of pupils included greats like Andrew Loomis and even Norman Rockwell. Speaking of Loomis, for those who like to model from ortho refs, both his books on figure drawing and Jeno Barcasay’s Anatomy for the Artist have some excellent illustrations for modelling from:
As far as online resources, below is a list of my favourites, but a couple that deserve special mention are posemaniacs.com and characterdesigns.com. Both are fantastic reference for drawing and modelling the figure, as well as just gaining inspiration. Another absolute goldmine are a couple of threads by probably my favourite living artist Michael Mentler over on ConceptArt and CGTalk. They are mainly drawing focussed, but many of the principles are fairly universal (particularly those on proportion), plus his drawings are gorgeous:
More anatomy resources:
Gray’s Anatomy Plates on Wikimedia
The Art of Anatomy Forum