Translating Anatomy Knowledge into your work


  • SVS OG

    So I've been through both Jake Parker's and Proko's anatomy classes....Now trying to translate that knowledge into my characters. I find that I keep trying to draw every single muscle and bone. Anyone have any tips on how they were able to adjust out of school mode to incorporate the knowledge into their characters? Anyone else have this problem...? My old cartoon style is gone now I can't do it anymore and everyone I draw is looking like a body builder...and when I try to draw younger or more cartoony characters they look horrible. I guess I'm in a weird transition period right now having trouble simplifying what I've learned.


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @evilrobot I may be completely wrong here, but if you are going for cartoony characters, I don't think you need to really follow anatomy. As long as it reads as arms and legs, then it is arms and legs. But I think have the knowledge of anatomy is great to have in your toolbox.



  • @evilrobot Man, I HATE it when I do some new exercise and it effects my style (but at the same time, it's good?). No growth without change, right?

    One of the ways I avoid having my characters look too defined (there's not much creepier than a muscle-bound kid πŸ˜‚ ) is to, when I'm inking, really focus on the silhouette and contours first, take a step back, and then add definition if needed. I also try and go back and soften out some hard angles to make people look a little more padded. When in doubt, one long curvy line is better than 2 or 3 short straight ones.

    It's tough, though. I feel your pain.



  • @evilrobot yes you probably need to know basic human form depending on your style. But agree good knowledge to have!



  • @evilrobot Oh I feel you. There was a time where the only thing i drew was head and muscular torso, becauase all the anatomy stuff i was pouring into myself.

    I think you just need to keep exploring. Keep drawing different body types and observe from life how how to draw them. But now you have anotomy knowledge which will help you do it. Eventually it will start clicking together and your style and anatomy will merge.

    Atleast thats how it is for me hehe πŸ˜ƒ

    Dont fall for the moment πŸ™‚ Take a big breath. You will figure it out sooner or later.



  • Think of anatomy as a tool you use in your drawing process. Focus on composition, gesture and values, then bring structure and anatomy in later to 'tidy' things up.

    The main way anatomy has helped me is to understand what those lumps, bumps and shadows actually are. This can help if I want to change something slightly than what I see, but still keep it believable.

    When it comes to cartoonish styles, the main benefit is the understanding of overlap. Eg, I know that the pectoral muscle goes over the top of the biceps, but inserts under the shoulder muscles. Now, this can be simplified with a slight line at the armpit to show this, but it can be kept small if the person isn't muscular. It can also greatly help if there is foreshortening. Knowing what muscles will show in front of the other, will help when you have that hand reaching out to the picture plane, or that leg as the person runs into the distance.

    It can also help when using perspective. I know that from looking from below and upwards, the chest comes out a certain degree and will overlap the neck (maybe even hide it altogether) and you will only see certain features of the face.

    So keep it loose, but when you aren't sure how something would look, refer back to your knowledge, and use it to make those slight adjustments.

    Hope that helps.



  • Yeah this was tough for me too. Everyone has muscle underneath and it took me a while to get this right, even then I’m still practicing. With this question in mind i tried to draw everyday people that arent muscular, like a mom with a stroller, or an old man with a cane. They don’t necessarily have fit physiques, then i tried to draw them woth a fit muscular physique. It was a fun exercise. You can also do it the other way, draw them fit then redraw them without muscle mass but they are the same character. Go slow and think about it as you do it. Live drawing helped me out with this a lot


  • Moderator

    Try doing 10 one minute figure drawing sessions. It will help you loosen up the anatomy while keeping the form. If you have a willing subject that will help you out for 10 minutes it’s better than doing it from photos. πŸ™‚


  • SVS OG

    I am finding this out with the "How to Draw Mammals course." Everything I tried at first looked really ripped because I was focusing on bones and muscles. I had to go back and look for where the animals stored fat and what is the natural gesture. That really helped.


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