How to Learn the Muscles of the Body for Artists - Part 2 - Locating the Pelvis

You know the times when you start to do something and you realise that it is a lot harder and more complicated than you originally thought. Well, that's me this week. That's me times ten!

From last week's post, you'll be aware that I'm learning how to draw figures and a huge part of this is learning the muscles of the body. And I'm taking you along for the ride. So if you too want to learn anatomy, this diary will be an invaluable resource. You can avoid the mistakes I've made.

I thought I'd got the leg muscles sorted last week. I knew the names, the origin points, and the insertion points. Job has done. Not quite. I decided to test my knowledge and draw the muscles on to a front-facing figure of a man. What could be easier?

Funnily enough, it was really hard. I kept marking the origin points on where I thought the pelvis was and drawing the muscle from there. It went badly wrong. And so we get to tip number 1:

  1. Know where the pelvis is.

This seems to be such a simple thing to do. Give it a try now. Try drawing a pelvis on to a picture of a front-facing fellow. Not so easy, is it?

The other problem I faced was that I'd taken three images from the app Muscle Premium of the figure, muscles, and skeleton of a man and stacked them together in Photoshop as three separate layers. I was able to draw the pelvis on the skin layer and then check the accuracy by turning on the skeleton layer. To say that I failed miserably is an understatement.

The pelvis is such a hard structure to draw because it is essentially an abstract shape. The skull looks a fair bit like the head, the hand bones go together to make a hand shape, and the leg bones are fairly obviously shaped. But the pelvis is odd. It's like nothing else. I needed to break down the drawing process to become more accurate.

Again, I've put in the hard work here so that you don't need to. So here's my method for drawing the pelvis of a man, from the front. It may seem like overkill, but do it a few times to get used to the proportions and then we'll try a streamlined version at the end. I've blurred out the fellow's winkle picker so Google doesn't think that I'm a more specialist site.

  1. Make two marks at the side of the body, where the top of his Speedos would go.

2. Draw a horizontal line at the level of where the gap between his legs starts.

3. Draw vertical lines down from our initial marks to the horizontal line. Divide one of these lines into 5 equal spaces.

4. Draw horizontal lines across from these marks to divide the area up into 5 equal rectangles.

5. Draw two vertical lines that divide up the area into two smaller sections at the edge and one larger section in the middle. Initially, this takes a bit of guesswork, but it becomes second nature after not very long. The lines come up from the points that are the lowest on the pelvis.

6. Draw two diagonal lines.

7. Extend the grid upwards by adding an extra section the same height as the others.

8. Now we've got all of the measuring done, we can start the actual drawing. Draw two short lines that start from our original two marks and follow the diagonal line downwards. Then draw reflections of these two lines.

9. Draw two slightly curved lines that end at the intersections of the two vertical and top horizontal grid markings.

10. Draw two 45° lines and then join them by a horizontal line that is just below half the height of the top rectangle in the grid.

11. Draw the two parts shown below, the lines meet at the intersection of the top of the pelvis and the top grid line.

12. Draw two sloping ovals that follow the diagonal lines and end on the middle grid line. Join these with small curves.

13. Draw slight curves down from the previous ovals and then two horizontal lines that touch the 5th horizontal grid line.

14. Draw two curves, noticing where they bisect the grid lines. They end up level with the tops of the ovals.

15. Draw two diagonal lines and then join them with a horizontal line that goes just below the 4th horizontal grid line.

16. Continue the diagonal lines from step 15 upwards to the vertical grid lines and then cut back inwards and finally upwards.

17. Draw two lines down from the central block and then an upside-down triangle.

18. Draw two guidelines upwards from the two lines in step 17. Starting just below the belly button create 4 circles on each line.

19. Draw a teardrop shape and then continue the side lines down to the next horizontal grid line. Then draw two diagonal lines from here to the intersections of the two vertical gridlines and the lowest horizontal gridline.

20. Draw two more ovals that follow the diagonal grid lines. Then draw two diagonal lines down to join at the intersections of the two vertical gridlines and the lowest horizontal gridline.

21. Draw two circles noticing how the top edges slope inwards to join previous lines.

22. Now let's check this against the actual pelvis.

Not too bad, I'm sure you'll agree.

Something else that you can do to help you learn the pelvis is to repeatedly trace over it. This way, your hand will get used to drawing all of the individual curves and lines. You'll also start to notice subtleties that you can add into your drawing.

Now let's simplify the gridlines to speed up:

I started the same way by putting two dots on the Speedo line. Then I joined these up to the lowest points on the pelvis. Finally, I went up 2/5 of the way and drew a horizontal line.

Please don't start with this. It would be really hard to draw the pelvis without the knowledge you'll gain from going through the full version above. So make sure you're confident with the main method first. That way, you'll be able to judge the proportions better.

Next week we'll look at the rearview. The week after we'll tackle the side view. And then we'll get to work on drawing the female pelvis. Oh, the joys of learning anatomy. See you next time!


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