Category Archives: Book Review

Who’s Anatomy For Me?

One of the most common things that I end up talking to people about is anatomy. Just about every portfolio I’ve ever looked through, or every friend who’s asked me how to get better gets almost the same talk that boils down to, “You need to learn human anatomy.”

Drawing from life, of course, is the best way to do this, but without an understand of WHY that muscle bulges like that, or why the bones seem to bend about there, you’re left with only a partial understand and it will be glaringly obvious once you start drawing outside of what you can find reference for.

An understanding of how the muscles work and the tendons stretch will be what allows your drawings of the human form to blossom. The question then because: “Where do I start to learn from?” I know of three men that are generally the topics of conversation when anatomy is mentioned: George Bridgman, Andrew Loomis, and Burne Hogarth. Which one is the best is generally highly debated, but I’ve looked over them all at least partially so I can give you a run down of how they teach. I won’t make a recommendation here, as that is something that you’ll have to make for yourself based on what speaks to you. I can tell you, Burne Hogarth is my hero :)

Andrew Loomis:
Loomis is old school. His books are largely no longer in print, but you can still find them reasonably around Amazon. The key anatomy book that he put out is “Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth” and he focuses on simplified build ups, talking more about building blocks and refining than delving into the muscles, ligaments, and bones beneath the skin. This is highly effective, and he does a wonderful job of conveying the human form. A lot of people still find a good deal of understanding in Loomis.

Loomis_Anatomy

An excerpt from “Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth” demonstrating his building block approach.

 

George Bridgman
George Bridgman is the next big one. He’s been recommended by industry greats like Jim Lee, so you know he’s got some clout. Bridgman’s cornerstone anatomy book was “Constructive Anatomy”. Like Loomis, Bridgman focuses on building forms to create bodies, but he does tend to give more focus and attention to the underlying musculature than Loomis did. He does a great job of illustrating how to build a body from the ground up, and gives a good passing understanding of the muscles and tendons involved in movement.

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An excerpt from “Constructive Anatomy” demonstrating Bridgman’s form based process.

 

Burne Hogarth:
Burne Hogarth is the godfather of modern anatomy. Just about any artist you ask – especially in the comics book arena – has at least heard of the man I’d wager. He’s been the inspiration behind folks like Joe Kubert, so he’s definitely got clout as well. I’m willing to bet that you’ve probably seen some of his extreme poses and high detail musculature he’s so well known for. He focuses on forms and planes of the surface, but also delves much deeper into the musculature and ligaments than the other two, which has worked well for me with my “how does it work” attitude.

hogarth_anatomy

One of the more down to earth poses from “Dynamic Anatomy” illustrating Hogarth’s emphasis of muscle structure.

I hope that this has been enlightening for you, and helpful. All three of the books I’ve mentioned here are linked below on Amazon. Definitely worth a read! If you’ve still got questions, post them in the comments! Later guys!

-Aarpie!

Books: Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art

One of the things that I want to do with this blog is to spread the word about books, websites, tools, and other resources that have helped me to improve as an artist. I’ve had to stumble across these items over the years, but I want to put them in one place so that the next kid who starts the long hard crawl up the ladder has an easier time of it.

To that end, I start with one of my favorite books: Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art.

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Many beginning illustrators approach sequential art with the mindset that it’s just drawing cool pictures in boxes, never understanding the importance of layout and the flow of the page. This book by Will Eisner is probably one of the best resources talking about how to make your Sequential Art flow.  While Will Eisner’s style of art might be a little outdated by today’s standards, his grasp of sequential storytelling is beyond compare. I don’t know of anyone active today who has the same level of understand. This book will take you through page layout, timing, and every other element of sequential design you could ask for.




This is not a how to draw book. You won’t find pages and pages about anatomy or foreshortening. This is a technique book, it’s a professional’s book. It’s also a really enjoyable read as it’s littered with stories by Eisner himself. This is a book that I still pull out and read on a regular basis, just to keep the ideas and concepts fresh in my mind, even if it’s just a second here or a second there.

Don’t just read this book: Study it. Study it like it’s final exam time all over again. Learn it, know it. You’ll find yourself using the techniques without even thinking about them because once they’re in your head they just make sense. I have read other books and write-ups by artists who are amazingly talented and they helped, but nothing brought the art of sequential story telling into clearer focus than this.

Check it out! You won’t regret it!

-Aarpie!