Monthly Archives: April 2014

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.


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.


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.


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!


The Art Pyramid

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: THE ART PYRAMID!


Huzzah for fancy graphics, eh? Made it myself. Yessir, it’s like I’m an artist or something! So what is this marvel of modern graphic design? It’s a key that I think is lost on most artists coming along these days. This pyramid gets flipped on its head.

Artists, especially those in the comic art or conceptual design fields, are generally inspired by the vivid, deeply detailed and stylized creators that they know and love. They see the soot of dirt, the glare neon, or the smooth lines of ink that professionals do and immediately go to try and emulate that style, rather than stopping to understand why their heroes are capable of executing that style.

While it is tempting to go right for the stylized, recognizable art and start drawing the deep, sooty cityscapes of your favorite Superhero, it’s not the right place to start. Focus on the basics: Anatomy, Perspective, and Image Composition. Without a firm understanding of these principles, you’ll never develop a style that is anything beyond flash and flare. You won’t create the solid characters that Greg Capullo or JR Jr. do. You pages won’t flow like water (be the sequential or individual works of art). There will always be a level of “wrong” to your drawings. Your art will be flashy and pretty, but people won’t be drawn in like they could be because there’s a level of unbelievability to your creations. Get those foundations down before you move on. It’s a lot of hard work, grunt work, learning anatomy, vanishing points, the rule of thirds and all the other good stuff, but it’s work it in the end when you see your “unfinished” art starting to have impact.

That’s when you can work on finesse. Once you have your foundation built, and you have something strong to stand on, then you start making it stand out. You develop your sense of lighting and line weight, you start learning to add atmosphere to your art. You start making scenes turn into worlds and you can draw people into those worlds because the accuracy is there. They’re not snagged by broken perspective or wrong anatomy on the way in, you’re not breaking their suspended belief. This is the where you start to shine.

Finally, once the first two levels are solid, you start making those worlds you’re crafting your own. You’re making it your vision, and you’re doing it on a solid foundation so that it can stand on its own with no problem.

And guys, this applies to both realism and cartoon style art as well! Remember, in many ways cartooning is harder than realism. You have to know what to leave out and what to put in to convey your message in as few lines as possible. One line too many or too few and you’re dead in the water!

I hope this makes sense! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!

Talk to you soon, guys!

Time Is Ticking Away

“I don’t have time.”

I bet… you do. Don’t believe me? Are you on Facebook? Twitter? New Grounds? Is Team Fortress 2 loading up in the background? What about television? Binge watching Game of Thrones again? Hours, my friend. Hours of your day are passing you buy.

One of the biggest excuses that I hear from artists – one that until recently I was horribly guilty of myself – is ‘I don’t have time’. The truer statement is “I’m not using the time I have wisely.”

Recently, I sat down on my train ride home and figured out my free time (thinking, certainly, I wouldn’t have any spare time to art). Twice a day, I had 45 minutes to and from work on the train to update my social media sites or work on thumbnails and roughs for prints and comic pages. I get home around 6:30 on a normal day. Help with some chores, hang out with the fam, eat dinner, and take a shower. Now it’s 8:30. Aaaaahhh… well, that’s convenient because that’s when the kids are supposed to turn off the video games and TV and start getting ready for bed. Well looky there, I’m done with my chores and I’ve got two or three hours that I can work on my art before bed.

That’s 10 to 15 hours a week… and that’s just Monday through Friday. Add the weekend to that: Sleep in (I get up at 5am on the weekdays for my day job, so sleeping in is 8 or 9) get the dogs fed and out. Do my chores. Maybe run out for breakfast with my lady. Now it’s 1pm, maybe 2pm. There’s 8 hours of time there, at least! Now, maybe you’ve got activities on the weekend. That’s fine, cut that out of the free time, and you’ve still got hours of left over time to devote to your art. Add Sunday into that and you’re looking at more hours still.

I’d wager, based on my hectic schedule and the amount of time that I really have, that the average person has between 20 and 30 hours of time that they could set aside a week, and it’s getting squandered on Facebook, Netflix, or the Xbox. Think about that. Think about how much advancement you could see in that time! Make the effort, not the excuse! You’ll see yourself grow, and you’ll find yourself WANTING to art, because you’ll want to see what you’ll get better at today.

Art is something you never stop learning, you never stop improving. It’s infinitely gratifying in just about every way, but you have to commit and have that drive and dedication. You can do it! I believe in ya! :D

Talk soon, guys!