Classic Human Anatomy in Motion

Classic Human Anatomy in Motion: The Artist's Guide to the Dynamics of Figure Drawing - Valerie L. Winslow

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

This book took me more than a month to finish, not because it was boring, though: because there's so much to get out of it, and a couple of sittings just isn't enough. Incidentally, it is definitely worth having a paper copy, as a PDF is not the most convenient format to use it to its full extent.

The author goes methodically through anatomical fundamentals, along with plenty of illustrations to show how bones, muscle and sinews "translate" into once put on paper. While this can be read from front cover to back, I think it's not the best way to approach this book, and it will probably be much more interesting to start with a specific chapter, learn from it, and/or observe first the drawings and then read the anatomical "lessons" related to them. I had quite a lot of fun observing myself, trying to make a note on every detail (where a bone is apparent, etc.) and then compare with the written information ("so that's why there's this little justting parth ere: it's [bone X]").

Another interesting element is how some of the illustrations likens the body to objects (for instance, the condyles of the femur to a pair of casters): it provides another kind of reference, especially useful for people with a visual mind and who are more likely to learn from visual cues in general, as they can recall such references in order to draw those very parts later. Additional tidbits are provided, among which the reasons why this or that body part was named in such a way, something that in itself I always find good to know.

Last but not least, it one needs to understand processes to learn better, then this book goes exactly into that: if you understand how limbs are articulated, how muscles are tied to bones and then work together, how the vertebrae allow the spine to bend... then after a while, you can draw pretty much any position. And this, to me, is something I neglected for far to long, and wish I had realised sooner: to base one's drawings on realistic information and then only find one's style, instead of doing the contrary and learning from bases that aren't necessarily strong enough.

In other words, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn seriously about how to draw the human body and be able to draw it later without using (many) models and references.