Achieving realistic human figures in art is often a lofty goal for many new artists. How do you achieve a chiseled, masculine chin, or define accurate proportions of the curvature of a woman?
The truth is, achieving realistic and artistic human anatomy comes not only with practice, but also a solid knowledge foundation. If you’re a beginner or an intermediate artist looking to achieve realistic human figures, then here is what you need to know:
The Foundation of Realistic Art
The foundation of a realistic representation of the human body is knowledge. Understanding the musculoskeletal system of the body will allow you to adjust proportions of your body shapes according to your desired outcome: masculine or feminine.
The musculoskeletal system is the foundation of the human body shape; it’s made up of all of the bones and muscles. While you don’t need to know every detail about this system, it’s crucial that you have a basic understanding of the anatomy so that you can accurately represent the body in many different sizes, shapes, positions, and postures.
Knowing muscle origin and insertion (or the starting and stopping point) is a great place to start growing your knowledge. You’ll also need to know the basic sizes and proportions of each muscle comparatively. Lastly, to achieve those masculine or feminine details that truly transform your figure, understanding skin layout and typical areas of fat build up is the icing on the cake.
The part of the body that most beginner artists find difficult to accurately portray is the head and facial structures. Since the smallest details can transform a face from looking more masculine to more feminine and vice versa, it often is time consuming to get just right. The face also has many more small details compared to the rest of the body.
Some things that you’ll want to consider when practicing facial features include:
Proportions are considered based on how the viewer is seeing the face. You’ll want to consider them based on the perspective of the viewer: from face-on or a side profile. Features that change the look of the face are the eyes, eyebrows, bone structure, nose, and mouth.
Foreshortening is the practice of altering these facial features based on the perspective, angle, and distance of the viewer. If the viewer is seeing the character from above and up close, or the character is looking down, then the forehead may be elongated while the facial features are shortened.
Tips for Implementing Artistic Human Anatomy
As a beginner or an intermediate artist, you may feel overwhelmed hearing terms such as “foreshortening” and trying to learn foundational anatomy. Since learning this foundational education takes time, here are a few tips for implementing artistic human anatomy that you can implement right away:
1. Begin with Simplified Planes
Have you ever looked at the blank canvas or screen and wondered where to start? Starting with simplified planes is a great way to really start your figure. Working in planes allows you to simplify the structure of the figure by eliminating the minor details and blocking them into larger shapes to work with.
2. Create Your Outline
Once you have your planes established, move onto creating your large shapes. This may be the head, face, or the whole body, but you want an outline to work within. Here, you should keep in mind where the light source will be coming from, and remember any shadows that might be cast.
3. Define Your Features
After your basic outline of your figure is completed, then you’ll want to define your features. Your features define how feminine or masculine your figure looks, and can also determine the ethnicity and other defining factors.
4. Nail the Details
After your features are defined on your figure, it’s time to really focus on the small detail work. By focusing on the larger portions of the figure first, you can end by adding in the fine details that truly transform your character… but you need a great foundation first.
Enhance Your Skill with Anatomy Art Class
While these four steps to create realistic human figures is a great guideline to follow, the process is much more detailed. Having the foundational knowledge is crucial for advancing your art… but you don’t have access to cadaver labs to see the basic anatomy. How can you learn without spending hours on Google or in medical school?
The Anatomy Art Class is designed to teach you what you need to know about the human body from an artist’s standpoint – not the medical field. No matter the type of art that you create – sculptures, paintings, 3D art, and more – you can benefit from this class.
The Anatomy Art Class will allow you to draw a realistic human figure quickly with the foundational education of artistic human anatomy. By the end, you’ll:
- Have mastered and understand the different muscle groups and how they are correlated with each other
- Know the anatomy of the human figure
- Know the muscles and where they attach so you can draw the figure from imagination
- Know how to draw skin, fat, and where fat builds up
- Know how to create dynamic poses for your anatomically accurate figure
This foundational course is divided into nine modules that cover anatomy foundations, upper body front, upper body back, upper arm, lower arm, hip, upper leg, lower leg, and foundations of the head. With all of the knowledge that you will gain, how can it get any better?!
Even better, this course is based entirely online so that you can access it from anywhere. You can learn and level up your art all from the comfort of your own home – if that’s what you want! Along with the base education of the course, you can gain access to three additional courses for FREE: Sculpting the Figure Level One, Sculpting the Face Level One, and Sculpting the Face Level Two.