Project Structure : Research Point : Anatomy Drawing

4 - Finished Anatomical Drawing Half and Half

When I saw this research point coming up I already had ideas and when I finally got here everything started to fall into place. The human anatomy is such a massive subject and I knew that I wouldn’t be doing a full anatomical drawing as I didn’t want to get stuck in a hole researching for days, so I decided to focus on my favourite part of the human anatomy, the back.

While searching for ‘Anatomy Drawing’ on Google I came across a link on Artist’s Daily, 
Anatomy Drawing for Artists: An Art Lesson on Studying & Drawing Anatomy 
. The free e-book, written by Dan Gheno has got some nice images in and it doesn’t give you any shortcuts but I did get some ideas from it.

Firstly, like anatomy drawings by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, a lot of the works by artists in the free e-book are on coloured paper and so I decided that this drawing would be a drawing in Conté Crayon on coloured pastel paper similar to the paper that I had used in Assignment 2 – Observations in Nature. I had used Conté  pencils before but not the sticks that I had bought from Silpakorn University, over a year ago now, before I started this course.

I had to start somewhere and so the same night that I downloaded the free e-book I took my camera to my girlfriend’s apartment and after a short debate I decided that it would be my back that I would be drawing and so we did a session in the gym, followed by a dip in the pool to ‘get a pump on’ so that I could get some muscle definition showing in the photographs.

I had quite a few photographs taken in the gym and in the shower  at different angles…from the left-hand side, from the right-hand side, arms stretched out at the side, arms at the front, arched back etc. Eventually I found the right photograph for the drawing, a photograph that would help me see where the main muscles and bones were.

1 - Photo with Best Muscle Definition
1 – Photo with Best Muscle Definition

After choosing a good photograph for this research point I made a quick pencil sketch in my A4 sketchbook and then did a search for some anatomical drawings of muscles and bones. After discovering 2 great books ‘Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy‘ and ‘Bridgman’s Complete Guide To Drawing From Life‘ downloading them both in PDF format and having a quick browse through, I went back on line and looked for Anatomical Drawings of back muscles.

2 - Pencil on A4 Sketch Book Preliminary Drawing
2 – Pencil on A4 Sketch Book Preliminary Drawing

I found a good image in a similar pose to mine depicting the major back Muscles – and then remembered a quote that I read in the free e-book by by Dan Gheno earlier ‘ A helpful exercise is to first draw the figure in simple, flat silhouette form. Then, try to superimpose your understanding of the bones within’. However, instead of trying to superimpose my understanding of the bones within I decided that I would try and superimpose my understanding of the major back muscles.

Back Muscles -
Back Muscles –

On a thick tracing paper I used black and sanguine Conte pencils as well as my Derwent Chinese white pencil to quickly sketch in the major muscles over the preliminary drawing below. The end drawing wasn’t perfect but it was a start. From here I enlarged my drawing onto the coloured pastel paper.

3 - Muscles, Conte Pencil on Tracing paper
3 – Muscles, Conte Pencil on Tracing paper

The drawing on tracing paper looked more like a space suit from the ‘Riddick’ movies than anything else so before I committed myself to the final drawing, which actually at this point, I didn’t know would be an ‘in the flesh’ or muscle drawing, I had to do a bit more research.

Fortunately for me the back seems to be the anatomy artist’s favourite subject, as the back plays a significant part in human society and is the largest part of the human body and so finding good anatomical drawings of the back muscles in full display is not difficult, particularly the first layer of posterior torso muscles which is all I really wanted at this stage.

I found a great website that had some great illustrations on so between the site and Grant’s Atlas of Anatomy I was able to check whether or not my earlier drawing and superimposed muscle drawing were correct.

It was time to start on the bigger drawing so I enlarged the smaller drawing onto an A2 sheet by drawing a grid and then drew my outline. I started on the left hand side with white and brown conte sticks, drawing the creases of the flesh by taking the colour off with a putty rubber to depict muscle tone.

4 - Finished Anatomical Drawing Half and Half
4 – Finished Anatomical Drawing Half and Half

As I crossed over onto the left hand side it was easier to see how I would be able to work in the muscle lines in order to make it look like a dissection drawing. This time the muscle drawing was more anatomically correct but it took more colours than what I expected, working with brown and white Conte sticks plus Sanguine and Black Conte pencils.

When I finished the drawing, I thought maybe I should label the muscles by numbering the muscles and then writing the name of the muscles in a key, top left to show some understanding of the muscles drawn. However, so as not to ruin it, I decided to keep it as it is.


Project Gesture : Check and Log

15 - Felt Tip Pens Back Bend in Proportion

How well have you managed to capture the pose? what could be improved.

I think I did really well with capturing the pose throughout the project. However I do think that I could have done better to capture the feeling of the pose. Maybe experimenting with different mediums on different types of paper especially in the ‘Stance’ exercise. could have helped me do this. Since working on these two exercises I discovered ‘Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life’ by George W. Bridgman, which I will be reading and hopefully it will help me get more ‘drama’ into the pose.

Do you think the figures balance, if not where did you go wrong?

All but one of my figures balance and that is the first drawing of the model in tree pose, where I centered the entire model. I then redrew the model looking for areas where the model was balancing.

How did you go about conveying a sense of energy?

I explored a few different ways of conveying a sense of energy, I started by sketching really quickly with a 6B pencil and Conte pencil, focusing on poses that would help me capture the model in ‘action’. In went back to these and added swoosh lines as I wasn’t quite happy with them.

From there I went onto drawing the model in ballpoint pen going over and over the figure with more and more lines,

I experimented drawing moving body parts by hatching from side to side over where the body part should be in a rough blurred shape.

I roughly sketched the figure in a lighter felt tip pen and then went over in a black felt tip pen hoping to convey a sense of energy in that the model would look like she was in motion.

Last but not least I drew very quickly with a ballpoint pen in action poses.

Project Gesture : Energy

Warrior 2 in Conte on A4

In the instructions for this exercise we were to ask the model to adopt a dynamic pose such as lifting an arm, twisting the hips, turning the head stretching the arms or walking. I had an idea of what I would be doing for this exercise from the start, so I asked my girlfriend to do the sun salutation for me and to hold certain poses that I thought may work well I stayed close with my A4 sketchpad.

1 - High Lunge 6B on A4
Warrior 1 6B on A4

Warrior 1 was easy to draw with the 6B pencil on the textured paper and as can be seen in the enlarged photo . However, I can never seem to use long flowing lines but am really sketchy and use lots of broken lines when faced with the task of drawing quickly within a time frame. The drawing itself would probably would not have expressed energy that we’ll so i added more pencil lines to depict movement.

Warrior 2 in Conte on A4
Warrior 2 in Conte on A4

This was the same for Warrior 2, which was drawn a lot faster and with more energy but I just think it needed a little something so spiced it up a bit.

2 - Cobra Pose Faber Castell Ballpoint on A4
Cobra Pose 1 Faber Castell Ballpoint on A4

The next pose was the Cobra Pose which after drawing the first one in Faber Castell Ballpoint I decided it was a pose that could be drawn with lots of energy and depict movement quite well if done right so with the girlfriend taking a short break after each one.

3 - Cobra Pose Faber Castell Ballpoint
Cobra Pose 2 Faber Castell Ballpoint
4 - Exploring Cobra Pose in Conte
Exploring Cobra Pose in Conte
5 - Larger Cobra Pose in Conte
Larger Cobra Pose in Conte

There were a couple that were ok and a couple that were totally out of proportion. The thing about the Cobra Pose is that the legs look longer in the pose especially with mygirlfriend who has quite a short body, or high backside as can be seen in the upward salute below.

6 - Arms Stretched Back 6B
Upward salute 6B on A4

I did a quick sketch with my girlfriend in the ‘upward salute’ pose, starting from the waste I worked down to the feet. I should have done it the other way around and drawn the top first because by the time I got to drawing the top she had eased off the bent back position.

7 - Back Bent Further Back
Upward salute Back Bent Further Back

The second drawing of the same pose was a lot easier for us both and this time I started with longer lines from the waist to the breast then from the breast to the wrist then worked my way down to the floor. Her hair flicked back gave me an idea and so i decided to add some trail lines to both drawings, successfully adding energy and movement to the drawings. For the next two drawings we chose the ‘Knees, chest and chin pose’ as I thought, like the Cobra Pose, drawing with energy I may be able to depict movement in the following sketches. This maybe true for the Conte sketch in two colours but not the drawing in charcoal.

8 - Going into Cobra Pose Charcoal
Knees, chest and chin pose Charcoal
9 - Going into Cobra Pose Conte
Knees, chest and chin pose, Conte pencils

That was it for the first day but the next day I had some time to kill between lessons at the language centre, so I thought I would try something a bit different. With 6B pencil in my A4 sketch book and working from two photos I had taken from the bed with my tablet the night before I quickly sketched my girlfriend and then distorted the body parts that had been caught in action (moving) in the two photos.

10 - Experimenting with Moving Limbs 6B
Experimenting with Moving Limbs 1, 6B on A4

In the first photo from what I can remember she was on her way to the toilet lifting her left leg up and swishing her damp hair to one side after making a start on blow drying it. In the second photo she was cooking her log up, maybe scratching the back of the right leg with the top of her left foot.

11 - Experimenting with Moving Limbs 6B
Experimenting with Moving Limbs 2, 6B on A4

The next day I cycled back up to my girlfriend’s home sketchbook in bag but this time armed with my felt tip pens and my girlfriend went through a few more poses to see which would be best as drawings.

12 - Felt Tip Pens Lord of the Dance
Felt Tip Pens Shiva dancing pose

Actually it doesn’t say felt tip pens on the box, it says wwatercolour Pens and the colours are far more vibrant than felt tip pens.

The Shiva Dancing Pose above is a very static pose but I thought by using the vibrant orange to sketch in the form first before I went over it in black it would give it some energy. I don’t think it does, my students think it does, nonetheless it does remind me of Degas’s ballerinas.

14 - Felt Tip Pens Back Bend
Felt Tip Pens standing salute pose

The last two drawings of my girlfriend were again of her in the ‘standing salute’ pose but drawn from a photo her back was bent so far back that I couldn’t ask her to stay like that for any length of time without her falling over especially with her hands together. The first drawing wasn’t in Proportion as her body ws too long and her arms were too short in order to fit her on the page.

The second drawing  was drawn at an angle in order toner her in Proportion and git yer on the page.

15 - Felt Tip Pens Back Bend in Proportion
Felt Tip Pens standing salute pose at an angle

At the end of our second session I got the girlfriend to take some shots of me in various poses, the following sketches drawn in ballpoint pen was the result. A quick sketch, full of energy and reminding me somewhat of a Scheile painting.

16 - Pre-kick Faber Castell Ballpoint
Pre-kick Faber Castell Ballpoint

Project Gesture : Stance

Drawings 6-9 2B on A4

The brief for this exercise was to ‘ Look for the center of gravity in a standing figure. Mark the central axis in your sketches’ and to ‘ change poses every 2-5 minutes’. I divided my A4 sketch book into three panes so i could work smaller and so keep within the 5 minute time frame. Unlike the previous exercises, in this exercise I started from the head down and once I thought the head was in the correct position marked the central axis, which the brief pointed out was from the back of the ear on a side pose, the top of the spine for a back pose and for a front pose started at the top of the head and run down the bridge of the nose.

First three stances 2B on A4
First three stances 2B on A4

After drawing the head and then marking the central axis I worked to it as a guideline. The benefits of working this small was that I could capture the stance quite well plus add some detail while working within the time frame. The negative side is that when enlarged the drawings are very sketchy.

Second set of stances 2B on A4
Second set of stances 2B on A4

The first three drawings took closer to 2 minutes each while 4-6 were closer to 5 minutes and it shows.

Drawings 6-9 2B on A4
Drawings 6-9 2B on A4

Having got confident drawing he different basic stances by now I decided to get a bit more daring with the next 3, hands overlapping behind the head an back twisting to one side in the first two, and the third drawing bending over with one hand on the left calf. This third drawing wasn’t the most difficult nor did it take the longest to draw but it was the most awkward and I wasn’t completely satisfied at first but looking at  it now the proportions and stance are perfect it just felt strange to draw what seems like a triangular form.

2 final stances 2B on A4
2 final stances 2B on A4

On the 4th and final page of stances I went for a pose that was a true test to see if I could draw the correct center of gravity…The tree pose. My first attempt would have had the model falling over, while my second attempt was close to spot on, with the knee of the standing leg pushed out to center the weight. Last but not least was the model drinking a class of beer from the back and I even managed to get in some back muscles. I have noticed there is an anatomical drawing coming up and I think back muscles on the right model would be great for it.

Project Form : Check and Log

5 - Hard Pastel on A2 Paper

Were you able to maintain a focus on proportion at the same time as creating a sense of weight and three dimensional form?

In the first exercise essential shapes I believe I managed this quite well apart from the first sketch, which was more of a trial, working with charcoal on A3 paper for figure drawing for the first time. In the second exercise essential elements there was a couple of times I messed up with proportions and coincidentally they were both when I was looking down at my daughter in a standing position, these are the second and 6th drawing . In the second drawing I made the head too small and then when I corrected it, it went off the paper.

Which Drawing gives the best sense of the pose and Why?

This is a difficult question to answer. To make a start on narrowing it down I would go for poses in the essential elements exercise as my daughter was uncomfortable posing for me and I think I have managed to depict this in these poses. Then I would probably say I think I would probably have to say the third drawing. She has the same arched back as me and I have managed to capture this in the drawing.

Was there any movement or gesture away from the model’s central axis? if so did you manage to identify this and put it in your drawing?

In the third and fifth drawing of the essential shapes exercise my girlfriend’s backside was cocked to one side maybe because she was a little uncomfortable at the length of time she had been sat there and I have definitely managed to capture this in the drawings but this, was done without noticing and it had been pointed out by her afterwards. But then, in the essential elements exercise, drawing 3, I haven’t done a great job of identifying this and I think it is down to the shadow on the legs.



Project Form – Essential Elements

4 - Charcoal on A3 Paper

It is the big summer holidays in Thailand due to the fact that April is the hottest month ever, anywhere in the entire universe, so from March to May the kids are off. My two daughters are quite energetic when they are together and getting excited because they’re coming to mine, even makes them more so, so barring the weekend when they come over to mine in the summer holidays I usually take them one at a time. My 5 year old was practising dancing for the school show so it was my 9 year old’s turn to come over for a few days.

1 - Charcoal on A4 Sketch Book
1 – Charcoal on A4 Sketch Book

My oldest daughter Angel is very quiet when she’s by herself as I think she actually likes the peace and quiet my gaff has to offer so when I asked her to model for me she didn’t complain, as long as she could go in the bedroom play with her tablet and ‘listen to’ the TV afterwards.

Now the brief for this exercise was to draw a sequence of poses lasting ten minutes each…Adjust the light so it hits only one side of the model, to emphasize the darkest and lightest forms.

I’m afraid on the first drawing, sketching my daughter in her T-shirt only took about 5 or so minutes but then I spent about another ten minutes going overboard with the sofa as I really feel it needed some darker areas. This time the drawing was done on charcoal in my A4 sketch book as I wanted to see how much control I had with this medium on a small size sheet of paper in the given time frame.

My daughters legs are very long and she is quite tall for her age but she looks a lot taller in this drawing, her body should have been shorter.

2 - Charcoal on A2 paper
2 – Charcoal on A2 paperq

My second drawing was done on an A2 sheet of paper and again their was too much light shining on her so I filled in some of the background. Now in an earlier exercise we were instructed from the waste, I misjudged this and had to cut the top of her head off. However, I wasn’t going to start again as I really liked the finished drawing, the only problem I had with it was it was all sweeps of dark tone and no hatching.

3 - Charcoal on A3 Paper
3 – Charcoal on A3 Paper

The third drawing was a lot more satisfying, this time I sat her on the front of the sofa watching the TV with the light directly on her upper-chest region. In ten minutes I managed to get all the drawing done complete with swoops of dark tone and hatching, the only problem I have with it is her calf looks two short, this is because her legs are at an angle which you can tell by the position of her feet but I didn’t do to well with the dark and light to depict this.

4 - Charcoal on A3 Paper
4 – Charcoal on A3 Paper

Like the third drawing, the fourth drawing was again very satisfying, this time she sat on the corner of the sofa facing away from me, there was more light shining on her but like the last drawing I managed to use a few mark making techniques to build up the different tonal values and this time it actually looked like my daughter. At first I was worried about just drawing 1 leg but then I remembered Degas’s Lying Nude and how the mind fills in the rest.

5 - Hard Pastel on A2 Paper
5 – Hard Pastel on A2 Paper

Moving away from charcoal I decided to do the next drawing in a bluey grey hard pastel to see if I could build up the different tonal values in a not so heavy medium. I had done the last two seated drawings on A3 Paper as it was easier to relate to that size paper with those two seated poses but with this pose I decided to go back to A2 paper  as this pose was mostly head and a long back, still I didn’t judge the proportions right and the drawing could have filled more of the paper up.

6 - Charcoal on A2 Paper
6 – Charcoal on A2 Paper

I went back to charcoal on A2 for the final drawing and if the profile looked anything like my daughter I might have been somewhat satisfied but looking at the second picture then looking at this one you can see how the legs are too short and the head looks big, I’m not sure whether it’s the angIe am at or I started out to broad.

Proportions – Check and Log

8th Sketch 10 Minutes Compressed Charcoal

Have you managed to make a complete statement within this time? What were your main problems?

Within 2 minutes? No, there is definitely a lot more time needed at this stage, however, with more practise drawing the human figure, two minutes could be enough to make a statement of a sort, more so with ten minutes. With one hour in ‘The Longer Pose‘ I do feel I managed to make a complete statement but the drawings did suffer with consistency.


1. I have this knack of drawing the bodies really well with flowing lines but then when I get to the head and face I tend to tighten up and give the subject Action Man/Thunderbirds’ like features. I don’t know how other people see the drawings but that’s what I see.

How well have you captured the characteristics of the pose?

In the 2 minute life-drawing sketches In the ‘Quick Poses‘ exercise I would say about 50/50 I can see the original pose in what I captured on paper but then I would say that others probably wouldn’t get it. But then in ‘The Longer Pose’ exercise I would say ever I have managed to capture, in the pose, what draw me to it in the first place.

Do the proportions look right? If now how will you try to improve this?

In the quick poses the sketches do seem to be out of proportion in 2 or 3 but I think this was down to excitement more than anything else, it was the first time I had done any life-drawing and I was also worried that the model (my girlfriend) would be uncomfortable so I rushed my strokes. All the sitting poses however were in proportion and measured the same from the head to the seat of the backside.





Proportions – The Longer Pose

35-40 Minutes in 6B on A4

I was meaning to draw the girlfriend again with this exercise but I came across two great opportunities to do two longer pose drawings on the same day. Firstly I was teaching a class of two teenagers but on this day only one turned up.

The girl who turned up was dressed in her lower-high school uniform, which are quite quaint and remind me a bit of the Victorian school uniforms so I couldn’t resist drawing her. Being the best English speaker of the two we managed to keep chatting while I finished. The drawing took me only about 40 minutes or so and I used the end of my Mars Lumograph pencil in front of her head and checking the measurement against the rest of her body. As with my girlfriend in the quick poses exercise her head fit into her body about 4 times to the seat.

However, it wasn’t the ideal drawing for this exercise, as the clothes weren’t tight fitting and the desk and bag cover a large proportion of the girl’s body but drawing from her waist (or desk) up it gave me some good practice and my subject fit nicely on the A4 sheet.

35-40 Minutes in 6B on A4
35-40 Minutes in 6B on A4

My second great opportunity came with my friend being in the dog-house and taking refuge at mine until he found somewhere else to live although this time I worked mainly from a photo as he could never stay still for long.

1 Hour Drawing in 6B on A3
1 Hour Drawing in 6B on A4

The drawing took me spot on an hour but a large portion of the time was spent getting his mouth right. I wish I had remembered what I had learnt from the OCA video below and asked him to keep his mouth shut. Nevertheless, I am quite happy with the finished drawing.

This time I drew from the waist out to the feet and then up to the head and again using my same method of measurement. Unlike the drawing of the schoolgirl above you can see more of his body shape and I could actually follow the contours of his body in the t-shirt and shorts. The hardest part of the drawing was his dodgy pointing finger and his open mouth which I had to resort to drawing with a 2B pencil as the 6B was just too big.