Sunday, 17 July 2011

Anatomy: Featuring Mr. Skel

Human anatomy has to be one of the hardest things in art - in particular computer graphics - to master. All humans are different. Some are short, some are tall, some are fat, some are thin, some are pear shaped, apple shaped, big boobs, big bum, muscly, flabby, etc. etc. and this diversity isn't always easy to capture, especially without a source picture that you're copying from. Drawing the human body from scratch can be so mind-numbingly obsolete you'll feel like curling into the foetal position and hoping for sweet, sweet death.

So I'm here trying to break it down as simply as possible. And I will warn you now: This is 96% hypocritical. It is very rare that I will draw an accurate human body from mind. I've done it before, but despite practicing since the age of what must be about 3 or 4, it's still hard.

So, let us introduce Mr. Skel. He's pretty sexy, don'tcha think? If you study the structure of bones, you get to see how the flesh forms around it. For example, the legs aren't straight. They are "Y" shaped. The thighs have a gradient of about 20° and the calves are somewhat straight. Fat collects inside this Y shape, along with the quadriceps (muscles). The thighs tend to hold more fat than the stomach, arms etc. in an average sized female, although this varies from somatotype to somatotype. The calves don't store much fat at all. The muscle has more of a curve on the inside of the leg.

The arms can be extremely diverse. They can collect fat on the upper arm, leading to a wider looking shoulder, or they can be so thin that there is a large gap between the arm and waist when relaxed. The lower arm rarely collects noticeable fat on the lower half. Wrists hold little to no fat. Hands can or can not hold fat depending on somatotypes.

On women, the waist curves in. I'm assuming Mr. Skel is a man, therefore to create a more womanly shape, the ribcage would curve inwards ever so slightly towards the last 2 or 3 ribs. The pelvis remains roughly the same. The smallest part of the waist is just below the ribcage. Fat collects above the pelvis bone, slightly less will gather around the hips. Breasts are around the centre of the ribcage, but this varies on age, size, genetics.

The collarbone holds the least amount of fat on the entire body. Collarbones vary throughout the human race, I'll cover this in more detail later. On slim figures, a small bone can protrude from the shoulder from the collarbone.
Ok, so I've fleshed out Mr. Skel. Or... Mrs. Skel as it seems now. Ignore hands and feet, those need a post of their own.
As you can see, I've cut off a small amount of Mr. Skel's ribs to create the more feminine silhouette.
This is not the somatotype you see in fashion - We would usually see a much taller figure, most of the length is achieved by longer legs.
And this is Mrs. Skel without her husband. You can see the circles I drew to represent the joints. Use these circles to change poses. Try this: Draw a basic figure in a basic pose like this (on paper) and place tracing paper on top. Let's change the arms, legs are quite complex. Trace all the pose but the arms, and draw in the shoulder joints. Then draw more joints and connections to make her wave, put her hand on her hip etc.

Getting the hang of anatomy is a challenge, and it's not easy. Nor is this post short... Haha!

I hope it's been some use to you all. It's a good idea to read up on somatotypes, fashion model dimensions, the human body in general - any information you can get is gold. I found out the piece about collarbones holding the least fat from Gok Wan's How To Look Good Naked! Hold on to things you learn and apply those in your work. It does help.

Good luck, and any questions, please pose them in the comments :)

- Hunni x x x


  1. Thank you so much, this was very helpful. I am not happy with how I draw bodies at the minute, I think this may be one way to make me improve.

  2. Thanks!Its really gonna help me get better at graphics!


Leave me a comment, I like to read them, I like to cry at them, laugh at them and I also like to look at them and say to myself "hm... he/she must be on drugs"

- Hunni x x x