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Review of Classic Human Anatomy: The Artist's Guide to Form, Function, and Movement by Valerie E. Winslow, 2009


What This Book, Classic Human Anatomy, Can Do For You

You may have a couple of anatomy books on your shelf or handouts from your classes. You are used to scientific-looking charts and diagrams of the muscles and skeleton. Yet, figuring out how that information improves your drawing may be elusive.

A crisp anatomical diagram, alongside a polished figure drawing, with detailed text for artists, makes it possible to apply anatomy knowledge as the foundation for convincing figure drawing. A perfect combination.

What to Expect

“Classic” in the title implies rigor and precision. The anatomical information is presented very thoroughly and scientifically, down to the pronunciations (helpful) and variations in nomenclature among the various associations that govern the classifications.

No diagram is isolated from a highly polished, chalk on toned paper drawing, so you can see the anatomy translated into surface form and movement. The drawings are beautiful, and worth drawing yourself for practice.

Some diagrams combine an outline of the figure with the underlying tissues. For example, there is a view of the leg, including side, back, and front (sometimes the book even includes views looking down from above). Draw these illustrations several times to memorize the proportions and angles of the leg bones indelibly.

The text is in-depth too, venturing into the history of figurative art. It is a compilation of figure drawing suggestions that would take years and years to collect on your own.

The figure drawing suggestions range from the fundamental (indicate shadow under the tip of the nose), to the specific (certain muscles are more prominent when the arm is bent a particular way; putting the hand on the shoulder, elbow pointing down, shows the forearm really is shorter than upper arm), to the systematic (two ways to divide the torso to derive proportions), to the conceptual (mix geometric and organic shapes to block in the figure; and my favorite, the thumb resembles a poultry drumstick).

Recommendation for Classic Human Anatomy

Open any page and you will learn something. Keep this book close at hand and your figure drawing will improve. The ultimate anatomy reference and textbook for figure drawing.

Highly recommended. Bookmark and Share


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