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November 12, 2011
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Quick Tips: On Referencing Anatomy

Sat Nov 12, 2011, 9:54 PM


Reference from real life whenever possible.

When you reference or copy from another artist's studies/sketches/art, you may be copying their mistakes as well. Furthermore, an artist's studies are their notes and --just like with history or chemistry notes-- copying someone else's notes will not help you fully understand the material. To completely understand anatomy, you must take your own notes and build your own understanding through observation.

This is probably a no-brainer for many artists but... scruffynerfherder and I were talking about this last night, and with the increase of "anatomy studies" showing up on dA's front page, it's been on my mind. DA's resource category has some great material, but I also feel like there is a lot of misleading information taught by amateurs who really probably shouldn't be teaching things like shading or anatomy, because they have a less-than-stellar grasp on it themselves. I'm not trying to knock anyone here, but it's a bit troubling to know how many deviants follow this information and learn from flawed examples instead of learning from the real deal themselves. Of course, there's nothing wrong with picking up pointers and tips from others (I encourage it!), but building your own knowledge based on your own observation and experience is key.

Nothing can replicate the experience of drawing from life (which, if you have the opportunity to do so, TAKE IT BY THE HORNS), but since many artists are without access to a live model aside from themselves, here are some links and resources to help you out.

:pointr: Some great stock photo accounts:
:bulletgreen: mjranum-stock
:bulletgreen: SenshiStock
:bulletgreen: kristinkk
:bulletgreen: Tasastock
:bulletgreen: Voivodess-Stock
:bulletgreen: justmeina
:bulletgreen: chamberstock

:pointr: Some very useful links: (Warning for tame nudity on most of these)
:bulletgreen: ArtsyPoses.com Models (thanks Izene!)
:bulletgreen: Athletic Body Diversity References
:bulletgreen: Pixelovely Gesture Drawing Tools
:bulletgreen: Lovecastle Gesture Drawing Generator
:bulletgreen: Posemaniacs - USE WITH CAUTION & OTHER REFERENCES ON HAND! Figures have no weight/are lifeless, but it can help with poses and angles.
:bulletgreen: CharacterDesigns.com
:bulletgreen: Human Anatomy for Artists
:bulletgreen: Quick Poses

:pointr: OR you can always just Browse dA's "Stock Image" Category!

Also, remember: always follow the rules of the stock you're using! And keep in mind that many photos you find on dA or Google are copy written or do not give permission for usage, so if you use them for drawing keep it to your sketchbook for learning purposes only.

OKAY, THAT IS ALL. :heart:

Addendum: It has come to my attention that I may have come off as trying to completely discredit anatomical studies as a reference tool. This was not my intention, and next time I do a "quick tips" journal I will be sure to share some real quality anatomical studies and the like, as well as book recommendations. I guess my main point here is: Refrain from using other's studies as a crutch, use a variety of sources and make effort to find out information for yourself, not just seek to be told what to do.

:icondahrplz::icondahrplz::icondahrplz::icondahrplz::icondahrplz::icondahrplz::icondahrplz::icondahrplz:
Shut up and DRAW by sexpizza Shark Week by skinnyveestamp Feraligatr Stamp by NoNamepje
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:iconroxanna456000:
roxanna456000 Featured By Owner May 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for this. Anatomy has been frustrating me lately. No idea how to approach it! For me, it's like continuously pulling on a push-only door, until you get that "ah-hah!" moment and push.
Reply
:iconasnowyday:
ASnowyDay Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ahh, this helps a lot~! Thanks so much for compiling all this useful info!
Reply
:iconrashuvast:
rashuvast Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2013   Digital Artist
This is incredibly helpful, thanks for providing it for everyone :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconjasperk-stoneking:
JasperK-StoneKing Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2013
thanks for all this useful info.
Reply
:iconprechoco:
prechoco Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Student General Artist
Thank you! I really want to work on anatomy as a whole. For a while now, I've been studying only the head and torso (for portraits) so this'll be good for me!
Reply
:icontorekzzak:
Torekzzak Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks a lot. For anatomy, I'm able to control it but for shading and shadows, that was another thing...
Reply
:icongeey0u:
geey0u Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2013
Wow, I never thought of that in my entire life! I have always felt stuck and incapable of drawing and always took other art as reference, including anatomy study and tutorials. You took me to a whole different perspective! I will try to follow your advice and see If I feel more confident about my art.

Thank you.
Reply
:iconkotovaska:
Kotovaska Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much!!!
Reply
:iconkmnfive:
kmnfive Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012
preach it
Reply
:icona-fattori:
A-Fattori Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2012
Thanks so much
Reply
:iconeverfae:
everfae Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2012
Thanks so much for this!! :D
Reply
:icon7amze:
7amze Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for this post. :)
Reply
:icondotcoem:
dotcoem Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2012
I just add this site to my favorites. I really like your work. Thank you!
Reply
:iconcharmed-ravenclaw:
Charmed-Ravenclaw Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Featured here! [link]
Reply
:icondagger-kitsune:
Dagger-Kitsune Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2012
Thank you for doing a "quick tips" journal on anatomy. It's fantastic.
Reply
:iconlweeling:
Lweeling Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I just would like to know if you know any good book about anatomy, because sometimes it's easiest to see the different parts decomposed /divided.
And well is this tutorial ok : [link] ?
I find it rather intersting myself, but I'm not the best to judge, as I'm not very good myself I guess.
Reply
:iconabibuu:
abibuu Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Amen!
Reply
:iconlweeling:
Lweeling Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for taking the time to reference all these links, it's very usefull. ^^
Reply
:iconfeyoran:
Feyoran Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, these links look really helpful. Fav'ing so I have this as a reference, and thanks for the reminder.
Reply
:iconmarkyvigoroth:
MarkyVigoroth Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2011
I never had actually understood the purpose of stock art until I read this...
Either way, I thank you so much for the resources in this entry! I had been wishing for a realistic style, yet my art is very poor, especially with humans. Your guide would be a great help to me.
Reply
:iconmarkyvigoroth:
MarkyVigoroth Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2011
:iconbowplz:
Reply
:iconfantasio:
fantasio Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Im surprised you havnt Andrew Loomis listed here, its THE reference for drawing anatomy : [link]
You find some new editions on Amazon as also some book preservation sites on the net.
Other than that great and useful post!
Reply
:iconsqueedgemonster:
squeedgemonster Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Totally agreed, Loomis is great! I have some of his books, but this link is fantastic! Next 'tip' journal I make I'll be sure to pass it around.
Reply
:iconfantasio:
fantasio Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Glad you agree.
Here are some additional and maybe useful links: Google body [link] still not up, I tested a demo a while ago and it looks nice. Another great app filling the gap would be this: [link] from md3d dot com

cheers,
f
Reply
:iconkeyade:
Keyade Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2011   Digital Artist
Thank you!! The links you gave were so useful! I usually spend forever trying to find a suitable ref photo, then end up taking one of myself...lol
Reply
:icondropdeadsick:
DropDeadSick Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks, that was extremely helpful. Can't wait for the next journal you're planning to do. :heart:
Reply
:iconrosewolfeh:
RoseWolfeh Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2011   Digital Artist
Even though I'm thirteen I would never copy/reference somebody's drawing for a "study." I feel like it's art theft and that really irritates me. Of course all your points are right. However I don't have much chance to draw from real life but I've noticed this year I've gotten so much better at art just from drawing vases and things in class. I faced this journal for future references(with the proper credit of course!).

Oh gawsh I still really need to improve my anatomy.
Reply
:iconvictoryanny:
VictoryAnny Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2011
thx a lot^^
Reply
:iconhemamal:
Hemamal Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Great Help!
Reply
:iconstarfire-wolf:
starfire-wolf Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2011
Thanks for the links c:
Reply
:iconanarchisthinker:
AnarchisThinker Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2011
I am in quite a great agreement here. :)

I personally did my own sketch when referencing on a laptop when I was bored. Took a picture, roughly figured where the outline was and drew out the rest. Looks very flawed, but I think it's quite nice on that level. :P

Meh, don't bother my silly rant. This has been favourited and all, so yeah. XD
Reply
:iconmonu8:
Monu8 Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Student Interface Designer
Thanks.....
Reply
:iconethongtian:
ethongtian Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank YOu :D
Reply
:iconk00001009j:
K00001009J Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Hobbyist
Thank you so much for this! I love you! :iconiheartitplz:
Reply
:iconominousdreams:
OminousDreams Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Hobbyist Artist
Thanks so much! I've been wanting to work on my anatomy for a very long time. :)
Reply
:iconsebo3e:
sebo3e Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011
I guues you re right here what you said
it happen in must very common way
Reply
:icondigitaleva:
digitaleva Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011
I know that I pulled a whole bunch of animal reference images off the internet last night, along with several skeleton diagrams from veterinary text books and science books to get a creature I was designing to look right.

Never be afraid to reference things! I usually do, but I try to eye-ball them to get it right. At least for my rough pencil work. I then overlay a new sheet and use pens/markers to get my final piece.
Reply
:iconlintu47:
lintu47 Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
The most annoying and common thing is a skeleton with 10 or less ribs.
I actually think medicine drawings from books are as good as you can get. I recommend the Netter Atlas for anatomy study (mostly internal) [link] or just google for Netter images.
Thank you for this journal, i hope others will learn from it.
Reply
:iconlunamoondragon:
lunamoondragon Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I finally have a reason to fav' a journal. This is fantastic. <3
Reply
:iconthreshie:
Threshie Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
Hooray, you put *justmeina in there! I've seen people bash him for having male nude photography in the past, and he very nearly left DA, so it's great to see somebody giving him some positive credit for his well-down artistic nudes.

As for the main subject matter, I wholeheartedly agree that people learning to draw people should be referencing photos of the real thing -- with one exception.

When a person wants to draw realistically, photos are great (and even for stylized stuff it's great knowledge as a basis for anatomy), however when teaching yourself a particular drawing STYLE such as anime or Marvel/DC, I think it's essential to also closely examine drawn works in these styles.

Ideally, you would study both photos and drawn works. I've seen many artists learn anatomy from stylized anime pictures, and their work shows that they don't understand the anatomy that the stylized pictures are based on. However, there is also the opposite -- people who focus so much on realistic anatomy that they dislike their finished works, because they actually want to draw stylized.

Studying a wide variety of references both hand-drawn and photographic seems like the best course to me. =) There's no right or wrong style to end up with, just the one the artist is pleased with, so it's up to each artist individually to come up with a balance between realism and stylized that they are satisfied with.

I'm not calling your article wrong about this, I just wanted to add this comment about hand-drawn and stylized work as well for anybody reading who might think this means they should be drawing realism or not drawing at all. ^^; I think the article is very well-done and great subject matter, which is why I've added it to my favs. Also, THANK YOU for the links to great stock accounts! I love using those as inspiration and reference for interesting poses. :thanks:

~Threshie :heart:
Reply
:iconthreshie:
Threshie Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
"Well-done", even. ^^; Man I wish DA let you edit comments for typos.
Reply
:iconqueengwenevere:
QueenGwenevere Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011
I'd just like to point out to anyone who doesn't have access to life-drawing groups or classes that mirrors are good. It's totally okay to practice from a mirror, even the best artists often use mirrors for pose reference! (James Gurney, for one...) Mirrors are also handy for checking things if you're drawing something from imagination, or even from photo refs (say if there's a bit that's not quite clear...)

Two full length mirrors will let you check side and back views. Some of the pros even have folding multi-panel mirrors. :)

Though of course if you get a chance to go to life drawing sessions, go. Those are absolutely gold.

And if you don't have access to life drawing, carry a sketchbook around and sketch people in the street or wherever, whenever you have a chance. That's pretty good practice too.

Re: books... YES! There are many good anatomy books, I hope you do make a list. Having more than one is good, because none of them quite cover everything. Though for a good basic all-around book , the "Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist" by Stephen Rogers Peck is a good start, very thorough, and pretty clear and detailed. (And not too expensive.)
Reply
:iconmichiyo-inuzuka:
MiChIyO-InUzUkA Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
ive done life drawing twice now (one male, one female)

and it wasnt until then i realised how different peoples interpretations are to the human body, i agree completely with this journal :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconnikkuwalkanov:
NikkuWalkanov Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for the awesome links m8, they will come in handy in the future :)
Reply
:iconadin-softa:
Adin-Softa Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
[link] - this is best thing that I managed to find. It's about 54 hours of video showing everything needed for drawing humans (skeleton and muscles included). Fist 19 videos are free. If I manage to go through this (in a few years :)) I'll show you my progress.
Reply
:iconbeccawolf16:
Beccawolf16 Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011
True, very true! Though I do have to say, as long as you don't absolutly depend on DA to help you draw, you can learn alot from just browsing around. It's very helpful to look at another artist's work and try to point out what looks right and what looks wrong anatomy-wise. Trying to figure out where another artist went wrong helps me to spot the same mistakes with my own artwork. It also helps me to not just throw my hands up in the air and say "it looks okay enough!" when I'm having a hard time drawing something. Plus, there are plenty of good tutorials from more experienced artists, and as long as you're adept at finding them, you can learn alot more than even school ever taught you.
Reply
:iconruirafael:
RuiRafael Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Professional General Artist
Suddenly reminded of Dana-Ts journal: [link]
Reply
:iconh-e-n-r-i:
H-e-n-r-i Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Student General Artist
I try to explain this very thing to fellow artists so often. Seems like every day, but I am sure it isn't in actuality. It is nice to see I'm not crazy (unless we're both way off on this art learning stuff). Hahaha.

In most cases, it is due to the fact that I found the original art they referenced (or eye-balled or traced) from. The likeliness so strong that you can overlay the original image and line up things.
When confronted, often the excuse is, "I can't afford art school." or "I can't afford nice books on how to draw." and even, "I can't afford real models."
I tell them exactly what you say, and I send them links to resources in order to help them understand and grow. However it never really... ends well. Apparently suggesting them to use real life examples is an egotistical thing to do. I digress.
Would you mind if I simply started linking them to this journal?
Reply
:iconemmersdrawberry:
EmmersDrawberry Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I very often use multiple resources when drawing, references from art books mostly. Books that where created with the intention of teaching! Not tracing an image off of another artist or anime. When I have used photographic references I've asked the person in question (whom I know closely) if this was appropriate to upload and linked back to that person and the original image I based my work off of. If I where to ever to lazily forget to reference 'X reference book' and someone recognized a pose from it-why would I try to deny it?

"Oh thanks I completely forgot. No worries I'll add that in the description"


It doesn't make someone less of an artist for using references, and admitting to using them doesn't mean you have a crutch! I think pride takes over and someone just wants to fight against it instead of admitting they used a reference image. Many professional artists in both the fields of realism and cartooning that use references regularly. If it be cars, nature, animals, or humans. Someone who traces their work (and will not admit to it) or refuses to admit to a reference may simply be too insecure to want to admit they need help, without realizing that many extremely developed artists rely on references everyday.

I just wish people didn't have to feel afraid to admit to using other resources, it won't make you 'less' of an artist!

One thing I find that helped in recreating a photograph into a semi-anime style was to use the *grid layout in photoshop and have the image on it's own page with the grid applied over it, and using my new drawing window I try to match up where each part of the image lines up with the grid. It's incredibly helpful and can work amazingly well if you take the time, it also means you can keep the over all details and positioning of the anatomy ( if it be from an anime image or real life reference) relatively spot on. Even using it for basic stuff such as mapping the general shape of the head and positioning of facial features-then working on your own from there. While I have no problem with someone using tracing methods for their own use (such as from anatomy books) this method helped me out a great deal and can eliminate the 'need' for tracing some artists may rely on.

*That method is not meant to replace live study or anything on actually learning anatomy-it was in relation to those who use tracing images as a crutch.
Reply
:iconh-e-n-r-i:
H-e-n-r-i Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2011  Student General Artist
I agree.
You've a point about pride.
Often I feel more love for an artist who can site their references. Be it textures or something they used to guide them in drawing.
It's a right pity when all they wish to do is claim everything for themselves. Even if they've got a world of evidence stating otherwise.
All it does is make them look bad, and I can't imagine it being very handy for landing a job.

I am not sure that the majority of those who trace go as far as you do in studying. They simply trace. Haha.
Of course, the ones I see most regularly are the ones who are also trying to sell the same works. They claim that, because they drew the work, it is theirs. Regardless of how it came to be. This is a tough viewpoint to work with.
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