Anatomy studies

So I am into a period of doing anatomy studies with for main purpose trying to get better at articulating the body on (digital) paper. My motivation: easing the drawing process on the future episode and feel more confident to start drawing lessons on my video channel. On the last episode 37, I had a lot of trouble with drawing the poses. I especially struggled with one of the panel on the last page where Pepper shows the large knife of the butcher to the Phoenix. It was a top down view, and I made many paint-over to obtain something I'm still not happy with. So, I pump my skill a bit to avoid this type of situation in the future.

I already have almost a week of training on these, part time. I'll not share all the first batch on the blog because I drew them mostly without clothes and the first batch looks bad and a bit too NSFW for my taste. Only this morning I had the idea I could not draw some details and cover them with a pant and a top so I could share the studies. This doesn't remove any complexity to the training and it makes it easier to manage the files imo (eg. no fear to accidentally show the studies in public or in a sketchbook). I'll keep this way to practice.

Do I see improvements? Not much yet. Sure, my line is a bit more precise but my poses are still stiff. At least, I have less and less difficulties to draw the body as a whole. It has been a month I switched to use the Intuos Pro Large now and I'm happy about its precision mapped on my 24'' quadHD monitor. It wasn't evident because its active area is smaller than the tablet I come from (the Intuos4 XL). The too grainy default surface already ate 4 nibs, but the overlay sheet is getting a little bit smoother and the duration of the nibs is increasing accordingly. I drew these three poses at 50% viewport without zooming in, on single layer for each of them, with a slight Stabilizer 'size' (around 28) and the mechanical pencil part of my 2021 brush pack.

License: "Anatomy studies" by David Revoy − CC-BY 4.0
Tags:  #sketch   | Download: Markdown


link Jiří  

I think these look really amazing. I tried to learn to draw and failed completely, so kudos.

Having said that, the left girl's arms and hands are tiny. The arms are way too short (by 10-20 cm), the elbow point should be around the height of the navel. The hands are too small. When put over the face, the hand should cover most of the face. Even accounting for the fact that women have smaller hands than men, I would expect it to go from the chin to at least the height of the eyebrows. But here it would barely stretch over the lower half of the face.

link David Revoy Author,

Thank you for your nice words and for the feedback and tips for the size of the hand.

link Michael  

You probably should draw real life models. Is there a university / community college / atelier near you offering nude draw courses?

link Michael  

Have to add I highly admire your art and also the humour of Pepper and Carrot. :)

link David Revoy Author,

Thank you very much!

I already have tried actual artistic nude sessions. To be true, I dislike it, I'll try to explain even if it might take more than two sentences.

First, being within a group for this type of exercise implies often having no choice on the model, lighting situation, or placement (not optimal view angle for a study). Also, not having control over the session duration, which is bad if I want to deepen my study or start over.

I also remember hobbyist old men in the group, here to probably mix their new drawing hobby with an older (I presume) voyeur hobby. I remember models with tampons or one another pregnant with issues holding the pose. Difficult to study the mechanic of the body when just staring at a nude worker, faking immobility in pseudo-artistic poses, only here to make money at a not optimal time of their life to show their nudity.

I'll also not spare the details like the smell of a group under an overheated room (for the model, to not get cold), where the old males sweat excessively to hide their arousal, or the one who can't stop laughing or joking to hide embarrassment or deal with it, and all masculinity toxic comments at the end of the session to comment who drew the breast/penis/nipple/lips larger than they are or who spent time studying in details other parts of the anatomy. I'm probably just bad or not adapted to this common type of social interaction anyway. :-)

Fortunately for me, it's not a must-do exercise anymore to get the info and train skill. At that time around the 90s, OK, I get it: it was. Probably. Photos printed on large books or even videos of models on VHS were not detailed enough. Nowadays, HD pictures (and probably videos) are shared for free, with good light and with an amazing variety of bodies, light, and poses. Websites displays also 3D models, ecorché, and digital scans of classic statues exist in HD too. So I don't explain really why IRL nude session still happens. Maybe for the romantic cliché of "it feels like being an artist". Maybe for the benefit of being in the group, sometimes the only place to practice something because home is a place of procrastination and with many todos and distractions. Maybe for a teacher, but here I prefer my self-taught method. I guess many schools still do it as part of the pack "legit artist". I never really got a skill boost with these types of IRL exercises anyway, no regrets.

I know I'm hard on this topic. I hope my words are not attacking the precious hobby or training method of someone who reads it. Sorry if it is the case. I just wanted to share here my (lengthy) unusual POV about it. :-)

link Curious  

So I think the palm-up hand and attached arm (which Jiří mentioned in the first comment) are just foreshortened. They look foreshortened to me. If they are foreshortened then the proportions are correct. If they were shaded and coloured then foreshortening would be more obvious, but these are figure studies, not intended to communicate to anyone but the artist. Who does not seem to me to be in need of a lifedrawing course. Drawing out of your head is harder, and that is what he's practicing.

But I have a question; not about the execution of these drawings, which looks excellent, but about how artists choose figure-drawing exercises.

The three figure studies vary in facial expression. One looks thoughtful, one alert, one sleepy. But they don't vary as much in body language. All three are in flirtatious poses (maybe the center one is just athletic good posture... maybe?). None is engaged in an obvious activity. All have similar anthropometry.

So co-incidence? But I've seen other artists do this a lot (when not drawing from life). I'm not sure why. Why do the faces often not match the body language? Because they don't on a bored, stressed live model? Studies also often show people doing nothing; not, say, dance or yoga or sport or labour or katas. Again, this makes sense if doing figure drawing from life in a classroom. And why always a flirty pose? Because those types of poses are easy to remember and imagine, or because they're fun to draw, or because it's not actually very useful to practice sketching a variety of body language, or because that's what artists are taught, or because they mentally associate such poses with nudity, or because they often sketch using pornographic reference images, or because such poses are more varied or exaggerated than everyday ones, or because it sells...?

In some artworks, not David Revoy's, all the female characters are always shown in flirty poses. Always (even in contexts when flirtation would be absurdly incongrous, and really doesn't match the facial expression). You see it in graphic novels and animation and even live-action video. This monotonous body language makes it much harder to show characterization and motivations. Perhaps that's part of why such works rarely have interesting female characters. I assume the motivation for these works is "Pin-ups sell".

But Pepper & Carrot is clearly not that sort of fiction. In the most recent episode, Pepper goes through a broad range of emotions and a broad variety of body language. Her facial expressions match her body language. They aren't flirty (that makes sense: she isn't flirting). She is always doing something. In the forshortened pose you had trouble with, her pose is a challenge to the phoenix; she looks defiant and calmly self-confident. That pose worked out pretty well, actually, but I can see why having the head and body and every limb at a different compound angle was hard.

So... if you don't mind my asking, why are the poses in your figure studies less varied and individual than in your webcomic? What are the best poses for figure drawing practice, and why?

link Vinay  

Shocking to hear the lack of professionalism of those fellow "students" during those sessions. Having a living and breathing person in such a vulnerable and exposed situation right in front of you, you'd expect people to at least show a bit of respect and gratitude. I can imagine you wouldn't want to be there. I think I'd hate to be in such a situation too.

link Michael  

Thanks for your insights David! There is no "legit artist", for sure.

link David Revoy Author,

Hey,I read only your comment now, I wonder how I have done to miss it.

> why are the poses in your figure studies less varied and individual than in your webcomic?
Because they often come from a large catalog (eg. , ) and then are integrated into a tool like Quickpose that have a random button. That's what I used. So, no really any personal selection. I changed the body type a bit to something more athletic and I changed their face and drew something quickly in my style (just a way for me to not copy the photo, but to absorb information, digest, and then draw what I understood). So, don't see in it the expression of any artistic message. It's a pure study of how volumes and shapes of muscle interact with each other. The pose is invented by the models and the photographer.

> What are the best poses for figure drawing practice, and why?
Draw on paper without a model (from imagination), when you start struggling at a body part (eg. can't remember the volume or its connection to bones), then just find poses where this part is visible and where you can study it. That's how I would consider a good pose to practice. One that is a good ref to solve an issue at a precise moment.

link Curious  

No worries, there is no deadline. Thank you for the explanation, it all makes much more sense now! So the pose doesn't really matter, for these artistic purposes; they just have to be varied.

It looks like Quickposes is designed to be as much like a live figure-drawing class as possible, and that includes having photos taken of models holding poses in a studio just like in a class. So when the poses look exaggerated and unnatural and unmotivated, and the people are doing nothing, that's just what the photographer photographed (and if the models look scared or uncomfortable and the photos are creepy and adversive, that's just a continuation of some of the problems with figure-drawing classes you so graphically detailed).

I'm sort of surprised that people haven't taken better advantage of camera technology. Traditional artists used to draw people doing repetitive tasks, like reapers, weavers, fruit-pickers or navvies, because a reaper will swing a scythe in almost exactly the same motion over and over, and each iteration is a chance to sketch the same dynamic pose. A camera can loop or freeze any motion indefinitely. You'd think using this would improve realism.

There's nothing stopping a photographer from giving their models a goal, chopping wood or stacking boxes or bouldering or competing at darts or boule or something, and taking shots as they are moving naturally, with more character and motivation. Who knows, maybe some of them will read this :).

In some ways the expressiveness of the figure matters most, for fiction. The cartoon XKCD is... well, volumetric accuracy is not really a concept which can but used on stick figures. And they have no faces. But some of the stick figures are really expressive and engaging: Maybe I should sketch some.

I'll try your advice on poses; I've done mental calculations of the geometry and preparatory sketches in a more anatomically-aligned position, and mimicking the gesture in a mirror, but not seeking additional images in a pose I'm not sketching from. I guess I feel like the gesture is harder than the anatomy, since the anatomy is fairly unchanging! But I'm sure my abilities in both could use work.

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