Anatomy Resource Masterpost

IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator Mod Emeritus
Anatomy Resource Masterpost

Anatomy is a pretty tough road for a lot of folks. You see really intensive muscle studies and you wonder if its worth it. You do really intensive muscle studies and you can't figure out how to retain and apply the knowledge. You think you've acquired and retained knowledge, and you turn right around and draw a shitty, malformed leg/hand/face/everything. We all need to sit down and study, and anatomy is one of the more complex subjects. There are a bunch of different ways to study anatomy, and I think that's where people get caught up. Is it worth your time to study master sculptures, do long ass skeletal studies, hammer down you accuracy and proportions to perfection? Its not easy work, and for some people the tedium of it can be absolutely painful. I think there are some important things to remember when you are starting out:

Studying from life doesn't mean you'll be stuck painting realism.
Doing still lives and anatomy studies doesn't 100% directly translate into the visual nature of your art. If you are planning to mostly draw cartoons, that's fine, but a master study here and there won't kill you. It is a mental exercise as much as it is a visual one. You will learn how to translate form in ways that you hadn't before, and you can apply that to anything your heart desires. You must try to draw new things in new ways to push yourself forward.

On studying in general:
Occasionally you run into the novice artist who thinks either "This doesn't apply to me" "I COULD draw realistically if I WANTED to" or "I just don't have the time to study". These attitudes will always hold you back. I do think it's important to set goals that fit with the career and and visual aesthetics that you desire for your art, but it's equally important to not loose track what is technical study. Some parts of drawing are objective and purely technical pursuits, and they are essential for learning how to see. If you cannot accurately draw a square on a table, you can't accurately translate the crazy shit you see in your head. Anatomy can test your ability to translate movement, emotion, light, form and texture all at once. If you dedicate time to working at it, you will see benefits

Think about your end goals.
All that being said, Knowing what you want to do with anatomy its a good way to make your studies feel useful. Do you want to be able to construct Imaginary figures? Would you like to place heavy importance on nailing likeness for portraits? Would you like to focus on motion for animation and cartooning? Push yourself in directions that make sense for your artistic goals. Breaking down anatomy into geometric shapes makes for better character construction and is a nice transition from simple shape studies. Photo studies are good for trying to work on rendering, and studying materials. Skeletal/muscular studies can help with building imagined figures in a believable way, even without the most stellar reference. Drawing from live models helps you observe more directly how skin and muscles adjust to movement and stretch over bones, and give you less barriers when reading depth and form

Be accurate and be diligent, keep studying in your normal routine
A lot of times people abandon studying because they've left school. In school you take classes and push yourself to do 30 hour drawings of some perfectly rendered figure, and then never go back. If you don't need highly polished anatomically correct work in your portfolio, remember that is not the only reason to study and pursue technical accuracy. It is just as useful to do a few hours of study here and there as it is to work at a long term painting. Plot out studies in a way that make sense for you. Don't overwhelm your workload with lofty expectations, just try to maximize your actual learning and information retention.

Anatomy Books

A Note on book collection:
No one anatomy book is a complete resource. You don't need to buy all of these books to study anatomy, but you'll do better if you don't only buy one. Each of these books has their own strengths and the way they simplify anatomy for teaching is different. Of all these books, I think that Human Anatomy for Artists and Anatomy For The Artist are the best reference books, and they should be paired with a book that teaches you how to break down the forms into geometric parts. Hogarth books are quite popular for that, but Loomis is a another great resource.

Books are in this spoiler, Images and amazon links included:

Website Links

Croquis Cafe:
Videos of nude models in real time for life drawing.

Michael Hampton:
Examples of anatomy drawings (meant to mostly sell you his book)

Youtube Channel of anatomy videos, he also sells premium content,

youtube channel for Watts, they also offer classes

Just Hand Reference
A Tumblr I slowly update with hand and feet reference

Anatomy Tools
Expensive as fuck, high quality figures for anatomy study. Start at $200

Planes of the Head:
Heads for reference. Also expensive, you've probably seen pictures of these guys float around.

Simple app with an extremely detailed, rotatable 3d anatomical model. Includes modes overlaying the skeleton and labeling the individual muscles. For $5, it's an extremely good value.

Poseable skeleton model app. Allows for changing light direction, and includes a simplified skeletal model for construction purposes.

Iruka on


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