Archive for category Subject: Anatomy

Artist’s Guide to Human Anatomy || Giovanni Civardi

I’m not absolutely sure whether this is a new book or one of the older titles that has been reissued. To a very large extent, that’s not relevant, as these reissues appear to have all new origination and are often in a larger format. Quite simply, if you have an old and well-thumbed copy, you’ll probably want this anyway.

Giovanni has, of course, produced books on just about every aspect of figure drawing, but this one fills in the gap for those who need more about the actual structure of the human body. Inevitably, there’s a medical aspect to some of this, and many artists may feel that it gives them more information than they need. At the same time, this is written in Giovanni’s characteristic straightforward style and is definitely for the lay reader rather than the specialist.

There is no doubt that it’s thorough. There’s plenty of information about bone and muscle structure as well as how everything fits together and sustains the outward pose. Beyond the technicality there’s a wealth of aesthetic material that’s of fundamental use to the artist.

If you want to know what underpins the figures you’re drawing, how and why they appear the way they do, there’s no better guide, from an artistic point of view, than this.

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Drawing Using Grids – Portraits, Babies & Children || Giovanni Civardi

This new series from the prolific and always worthwhile Giovanni Civardi does what it says on the tin.

The use of grids vastly simplifies any composition that requires perspective or proportion and artists have been using them for centuries; it’s what the camera obscura was for. Giovanni’s method doesn’t require any equipment and he demonstrates how to draw up an 11 x 8 rectangular grid that contains your subject: in this case, just the head and neck. There are initial notes on anatomy, features and proportions, the bulk of each volume then being occupied by a series of worked examples that progress from the initial outline on the grid to Giovanni’s usual sensitive result.

With so many books to his credit, finding new approaches is getting tricky and there’s inevitably a degree of repetition to the coverage. However, Giovanni is an artist of great skill and always worth a read. In this case, the simplicity he has introduced is, I think, a welcome novelty.

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Drawing Human Anatomy || Giovanni Civardi

I always have to check the copyright dates very carefully with Giovanni’s books, as new editions are starting to come out. This one goes back to 1990, but the pages have a fresh feel to them that makes me pretty sure it’s a complete re-working. The older books were often of a smaller format as well so, all things being equal, I’m going to treat this as new. Even if you have a well-thumbed 28 year old copy, you might still want to have a look at this.

Giovanni deals with skeletal and muscular structures and looks at various components – heads, hands, arms, feet – in detail. He also shows how the body performs at rest, in action and under stress. It’s probably worth noting that most of the gendered figures are male and I’d say that the muscle illustrations probably are as well.

A lot of books on anatomy are either aimed at, or are at least suitable for, the medical student. This is aimed firmly at the artist and is all the better for that.

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Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life || George Bridgman

This is every bit as comprehensive as its title suggests. The fact that it’s the fifth edition suggests longevity and the preface reveals that it was first published in 1952. This does help to explain the rather odd hatching that appears in the half-tones, and which makes them look rather faint. Don’t let this put you off, though, as the publisher does seem to have been aware of this and all the necessary detail is there; this edition is fully re-originated, albeit, I think, from earlier versions rather than the original drawings.

What you get is drawings of every aspect of the human form: whole body, heads, legs, arms, expressions, poses – the whole caboodle. There are detail pull-outs, block diagrams, varied viewpoints and stressed as well as relaxed poses. Muscle and skeletal structure is covered as well. If you want an example guide to human anatomy, you’ll have to go a long way to find anything as comprehensive as this, and I doubt there’s anything to match it on price.

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The Complete Guide to Anatomy for Artists & Illustrators || Gottfried Bammes

This is the most substantial book I’ve seen on the subject of anatomy. Substantial, however, doesn’t mean incomprehensible and, looking into its pages, it becomes possible to believe the jacket’s claim that the original German edition is “bestselling” – even though I doubt it would have troubled the literary pages of the Frankfurter Allgemeine.

Gottfried Bammes does a remarkable job of explaining every aspect of both anatomy and the practice of drawing it in a way that simplifies without reduction to absurdity.

Anatomy, rather like perspective, is complex and comes with the additional hazard that, when writing about art, any author needs to avoid something that looks like a medical textbook. That Gottfried avoids this is, in large part, down to the quality of the drawings he uses to illustrate everything. He has a lightness of touch that, while it might be out of place in a hospital lecture theatre, is more than adequate in a drawing studio. The result is not only manageable, but looks and feels manageable. On top of this, the way the book is structured makes each section a unit in its own right; you can concentrate on the room without feeling weighed down by the rest of the building, large and ornate though it is.

I’d hesitate to recommend this as a primer but, if you’re interested in anatomy for artistic purposes, I doubt you’ll ever find a better, and certainly not a more complete, guide.

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Understanding Human Form & Structure || Giovanni Civardi

Sometimes I wonder how he does it. Not the drawing, I’ve got used to the excellence of that, I mean the way Giovanni manages to come up with new, fresh ideas that aren’t endless re-workings of previous books and also to put an original slant on subjects that are not exactly under-represented in the literature of practical art.

This one, as ever, allows the drawings to speak for themselves and includes a relatively short text that really only introduces the subject and the techniques and points up the things you should be looking at and for.

What makes it different from perhaps a hundred other books on anatomy (for that’s what this is) is the simplicity and the fact that it’s written purely for the artist, who wants to draw the human form and merely needs its underpinnings. If it was about architecture, it would be like stopping at the foundations and relying on other books, of which there are plenty, for the above-ground structure. It’s admirably simple, doesn’t offer the slightest nod to the medical student (other books may not intend to, but they do) and shows you – yes, shows you – how bones articulate and how muscles link them together. There’s no complicated colour coding that other books like to go in for, just sensitive, accurate pencil drawings that you can easily relate to.

The painter George Stubbs studied anatomised horses in order to be able to paint them accurately. You have this book, when is every bit as good as a rather messy hands-on experience. Be thankful, and buy it.

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Complete Guide to Life Drawing || Gottfried Bammes

A lot of things claim to be the complete guide but, at a whopping 312 pages, this one certainly looks and feels the part.

Getting inside it confirms that this is indeed a substantial work, with every aspect of the human form examined from block shapes through muscle and bone structure to the completed artwork. Each section follows the same progression, so it becomes easy to follow which, given how much there is to absorb, is a definite plus. Because there’s so much, though, you need to be aware that this is something to sit down and take time with, rather than dip into. Think of it as a structured course and you won’t go far wrong with it.

Gottfried covers male and female figures, both static and in motion and in a variety of poses, as you’d probably expect from a book of this kind. He also deals in the same detail with eyes and ears as he does with bodies and legs, so there’s literally no stone unturned.

If you can’t get a private tutor, this is very much the next best thing. It’s structured very much like a course and is absolutely thorough in its attention to detail and should satisfy the most demanding student.

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