TOP 20 ANATOMY BOOKS FOR ARTISTS IN 2021

In Art, Artists by Toni Justamante Jacobs

Making drawings of the human body without adequate knowledge of anatomy can be likened to playing a game without making use of the rule book, which could be very confusing and frustrating. But with the right guidelines, you can become a pro at the game because you have grasped the techniques and dynamics.

Anatomy is really specific and requires an in-depth understanding in order to avoid anatomical mistakes in your drawing. Apparently, with a good foundation in basic drawing and the right materials, you can create accurate anatomical drawings.

In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 20 great anatomy books for artists in 2021. These books will help serve as guides for modern anatomical drawings. So if you want to take your anatomical drawings to the next level, keep reading!

1. Anatomy for the Artist by Sarah Simblet

Sarah Simblet, Ruskin School of Art anatomist, revealed the construction of the human body in this book, and instructors around the globe make reference to the book.

The book includes a combination of commissioned photographs of both male and female, as well as contemporary and historical work of art. In this book, Dr Simblet incorporates her own illustration to help guide users in mapping the skeletal frame and muscle groups.

Pros

– The book contains a great collection of human paintings and photographs.

– It also contains well appreciated translucent overlays.

– Both beginner and advanced artists can both benefit from this book.

Cons

– Some artists indicated a need for the book to include a variation of body types.

2. Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artists by Stephen Rogers Peck

Peck’s book on the Atlas of Human Anatomy is a perfect combination of chapters that discuss bones, muscles, equilibrium, locomotion, proportion as well as surface anatomy.

Another reason why this is one of the most sought-after anatomy books for artists is the incorporation of studies on a variety of human physiques. It also shows how the anatomy transforms from birth to old age and it also explores a section where in-depth analysis of facial expressions were discussed.

Pros

– The book contains very useful information on anatomy for artists.

– Peck’s Atlas of Human Anatomy is divided into different chapters on muscles, skeleton, exterior, etc.

– The book contains useful captions for the photographs.

Cons

– The book would be an improved one if it included the movement of the human body.

3. Classic Human Anatomy: The Artist’s Guide to Form, Function, and Movement by Valerie L. Winslow

Winslow’s thirty years of research and teaching birthed this great anatomy book that seasoned artists across the globe find useful.

The author uses approachable text, diagrams, and drawings to bring the human body to life.

Pros

– The book contains beautiful and helpful illustrations.

– The book provides detailed views of the body in motion.

– The book contains explicitly detailed diagrams.

Cons

– The book is not exactly designed for beginning anatomical artists.

4. Figure Drawing: Design and Invention by Michael Hampton

Although this book was put together for both beginning and experienced artists, it is as well designed to help the novice to begin in the right direction. In this book, there was great emphasis on surface anatomy, which is one of the most important steps for any developing artist.

Even if artists work with instructors or not, they can easily follow along as lifelike drawings are created.

Pros

– The book is targeted at beginning artists.

– It also shows the body in motion.

– Body parts are explained in detail by breaking them down into basic shapes.

Cons

– For the study of the skeletal structure, this may not be a very useful resource material.

5. Human Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form by Eliot Goldfinger

Eliot Goldfinger, a lecturer on human anatomy, a sculptor, a model maker and an illustrator, has incorporated details into his book, which has made it one of the best anatomy drawing books in use today.

Every page in this book clearly explains anatomy with photos and illustrations, showing several angles of each and every muscle and bone.

Pros

– The photographs used are beautiful and pleasing to the eyes.

– The book employs the use of CT scans to elaborate illustrations.

– There are also multiple cross-sections included in the book.

Cons

– The models featured in the book are mostly males.

6. An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists by Fritz Schider

Schider’s Atlas of Anatomy was initially published in 1957. The author evaluated the ageless works from artists like Michelangelo, Goya, Leonardo, and several others.

With an inclusion of photographs portraying growing children, the systematic pattern of presentation eases the use of the book. This helps the artist to follow step-by-step through clear and simple skeletal figures of bodies in motion.

Pros

– The book is a tried and proven reference of artists.

– The book includes an analysis of similarities between life photographs and anatomical drawings.

– There is an emphasis on motioned poses.

Cons

– A lot more male models are featured in the book.

7. Morpho: Anatomy for Artists by Michel Lauricella

Michel Lauricella, a student of the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Beaux-Arts in Paris, has been a teacher of morphology for well over two decades.

Some drawing techniques such as écorché, where the musculature underneath the skin is shown, and also mid-movement sketches of models are some of his popular specializations.

Pros

– The book places emphasis on various drawing techniques.

– It serves as a great resource for bone structure and muscle.

– Numerous perspectives are included in the book.

Cons

– The book has no instruction on information for building flesh.

8. Basic Human Anatomy: An Essential Visual Guide for Artists by Roberto Osti

The author places emphasis on shape, lines, and forms, just like Da Vinci and Raphael to guide students through the detailed process of developing their artistic skills.

The book is best read progressively to help the reader transition from basic and simple shapes to more realistic and technical renderings.

Pros

– The book includes beautiful illustrations.

– A step-by-step guideline was employed.

– The book maintained an artistic focus while maintaining its anatomical importance.

Cons

– Some artists expressed dissatisfaction over the focus on precise measurements.

9. Anatomy: A Complete Guide for Artists by Joseph Sheppard

Sheppard analyzed the articulation of the muscles, as well as bones, to create skeleton anatomy for beginning and professional artists. The book begins with explanations of the procedures necessary for mastering the proportions of the human body.

Pros

– The book provides detailed explanations of the articulation of bone and muscle.

– The section dedicated to facial expression is particularly detailed.

– Each body part was fully discussed in a dedicated chapter.

Cons

– There was not enough emphasis placed on the joints.

10. Constructive Anatomy by George B. Bridgman

Bridgman’s work which was first published in 1973, is referred to as a very explicit study of the human figure. It is considered one of the best books for anatomical artists, because of the details to sketches as complex movements.

Pros

– The drawings used are beautiful and rendered by a professional.

– The text is well detailed and explanatory.

Cons

– The book did not examine any female bodies.

11. Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from Life by George B. Bridgman

George W. Bridgman, a renowned artist, and lecturer at New York City’s Art Students League, has created ageless classics on the drawing of human anatomy. The book presents Bridgman’s sketches and lessons in a new format.

The focus of the book is “constructive anatomy”, and as someone who had people like Norman Rockwell and Will Eisner learn under him, this shows that it is imperative for artists to build figures from the mechanics and techniques, and not from just mere observation. 

Pros

– The focus of the book is constructive anatomy

– The sketches and lessons are presented in a new format.

Cons

– The book is limited to majorly digital sculptors.

12. Artistic Anatomy by Dr. Paul Richer

Dr. Paul Richer, a professor of Anatomy at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the 19th century, places emphasis on figurative powers and naturalism. The book contains very detailed information on the structure and function of the various muscles in the body.

Artists like Braque, Renoir, Bazille, Degas, and several others use the book as reference material.

Pros

– The book contains explicit explanations of the human anatomy.

– It still serves as a reference material for anatomical artists.

Cons

– The book might be a bit difficult for beginners to understand.

13. Anatomy Lessons From the Great Masters by Robert Beverly Hale and Terence Coyle

This volume totals several inspiring masterpieces from the great masters. Through the works of professionals like Michelangelo, Titian, Leonardo, Raphael, and others, he shows their drawing techniques as well as the structures of muscles of the human anatomy.

The book is aimed at inspiring artists, whether students, amateurs, or professionals, to learn from the examples of the masters, as the authors help to guide them through the step-by-step processes of taking life classes and working with models.

Pros

– The book reveals the principles of great anatomical artists.

– The book includes step-by-step guidelines and processes.

Cons

The book does not do much justice to modern day anatomical artistry.

14. Complete Guide to Life Drawing by Gottfried Bammes

Gottfried Bammes’s Complete Guide to Life Drawing is a manual on the mechanics of how the human anatomy works, explained by the author’s architectural approach.

The book contains several photographs and drawings that clearly depict the author’s intentions.

Pros

– The book features a compilation of several years of study.

– There are clear photographs and drawings that clearly illustrate anatomical drawings.

Cons

– The book cannot be easily traced in some parts of the globe, considering the language barrier.

15. Drawing the Head and Hands by Andrew Loomis

Especially for artists who have interests in specific body parts and will like to elaborate on just that, Andrew Loomis’ Drawing the Head and Hands is the right book for you. The author, who was a renowned illustrator, and admired for his mastery of figure drawing by people like Alex Ross and Norman Rockwell.

The book is focused on the Heads and Hands, as the title implies. The book evaluated every anatomical feature and visual aspect through a variation of expressions, positions and poses, as well as the way structures change over time.

Pros

– The book has detailed techniques for drawing the heads and hands especially.

– The book contains illustrations that clearly depict the anatomy in motion.

Cons

– The book is limited to just the drawings of hands and legs, leaving artists with little or no guide for other body parts.

16. Figure Drawing: Design and Invention by Michael Hampton

The book, which is dedicated to both experienced and beginner artists, includes designs that are directed at the easier understanding of anatomy, so as to clarify the figure’s mechanics and create a pattern that can be followed by others.

The publication also clearly shows the processes and mechanics involved in obtaining a perfect figure drawing. The author also discussed light and shadow, in relation to the connection to the various parts, proportions as well as perspective.

Pros

– The book is very helpful for both beginners and experienced artists.

– The interconnection of proportions and perspective were discussed in detail.

Cons

– The book does not do much justice to the body in motion.

17. A Photographic Atlas – Color Atlas of Anatomy a Photographic Study of the Human Body by Johannes W. Rohen, Chihiro Yokochi and Elke Lütjen-Drecoll

The Photography Atlas is not the regular type of anatomical book for artists. However, it has received great recommendations, not only as a material for learning anatomical drawings but also as a useful resource for beginners and professional anatomical artists.

Pros

– The book contains full-color photographs of real cadever dissections.

– It also contains diagnostic images and drawings to help you get a better representation of structures.

Cons

The book does not elaborate on the movements and motions of structures.

18. Human Anatomy for Artists by Andras Szunyoghy

The book consists of a lot of very detailed illustrations, which are a lot useful for locating specific body parts at different angles. Sketches of individual bones, muscles, as well as other body parts like eyes, nose, mouth, limbs, etc.

The book is typically described as the perfect book for anyone who wishes to have an in-depth knowledge of the mechanics of the human figure.

Pros

– The book contains clear pencil illustrations of the anatomy.

– It provides an in-depth account of how artists can work around human anatomy.

Cons

– Some artists are not satisfied with the book, because it is sometimes difficult to link the text to the drawings.

19. Anatomy for sculptors Uldis Zarins and Sandis Kondrats

The book contains numerous images of reference of the various muscle groups from all the body positions and angled. The illustrations in the book are placed side by side.

The mesh enables the users to understand the body structure better and makes it easier to learn how to depict depth in their illustrations.

Pros

– The book uses mesh to help users understand the body structure better

– The depth of the body strict are emphasized.

Cons

– The print version of the book is highly suggested because other versions may lack navigation and high resolution.

20. Dynamic Anatomy by Burne Hogarth

Burne Hogarth, a skilled cartoonist and arts educator, uses a stylized character illustration with muscles that are exaggerated to share knowledge of drawing the anatomy.

His style of drawing will give artists a clear picture of where exactly muscles should be.

Pros

– The author uses exaggerated drawings of muscles to prove his points.

– The book outlines the movements of structures.

Cons

– The book is not exactly designed to be used by beginners.

CONCLUSION

Considering that each of the books mentioned in this article is among the best anatomy books that artists can lay their hands on today, it is important to note that a combination of some of the books may be required to achieve the artist’s feat.

An artist may find one book a useful resource material for one technique, but require another different book for a different technique. Therefore, it imperative to consider adding as many as possible to your collection.

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TOP 20 ANATOMY BOOKS FOR ARTISTS IN 2021
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TOP 20 ANATOMY BOOKS FOR ARTISTS IN 2021
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1. Anatomy for the Artist by Sarah Simblet 2. Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artists by Stephen Rogers Peck 3. Classic Human Anatomy: The Artist’s Guide to Form, Function, and Movement by Valerie L. Winslow 4. Figure Drawing: Design and Invention by Michael Hampton 5. Human Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of Form by Eliot Goldfinger 6. An Atlas of Anatomy for Artists by Fritz Schider 7. Morpho: Anatomy for Artists by Michel Lauricella 8. Basic Human Anatomy: An Essential Visual Guide for Artists by Roberto Osti etc...
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Improve Your Drawings
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Toni Justamante Jacobs

About the author: Hi, I’m Toni Justamante Jacobs. I´m a professional Concept Artist and Illustrator with more than 10 years of experience in the industry. Some of my clients are Gameloft, Fantasy Flight Games, Kunlun Games and Games Workshop. Currently, I´m working at Socialpoint as an in-house Senior Concept Artist.