How to Draw the Spine – Human Anatomy for Artists
this lesson you will learn how to draw the
spine in motion and 3 assignment to practice drawing the spine. We’re going to draw the spine as a simple
cylindrical shape. This will help us focus on the motion of the spine rather than trying
to render the details. Rendering the details of the spine will help you get better at rendering,
but that’s not the priority of this lesson. Let’s stick to learning the mechanics of the
spine. That will be much more beneficial to your understanding of the human body and how to
draw it. It will help you invent poses from your imagination. Proportions of the Spine Before we get into posing the spine we need
to learn the proportions. So, let’s start with a drawing of the side view. I measure
out 4 equal units. The Lumbar section is 1 and a ¼ units. The Cervical section is ¾ of a unit.
And that leaves 2 units for the Thoracic section. I know that’s kind of technical, so you can
remember that the cervical is a bit less than 1 unit, lumbar is a bit more than 1 unit
and thoracic is exactly 2 units. Everybody’s individual proportions will vary a bit anyway. A thick curvy cylinder for the lumbar section.
This section is not tilted forward or back in the neutral position. The top and bottom
will be aligned vertically with a forward curve between. Now, of course this is only in the
neutral position. When the spine moves, they won’t be aligned vertically. The thoracic section however is tilted backward.
So, the top will be farther back than the bottom, resulting in the backward lean of
the ribcage. And again, this is for the neutral position. The thickness of the cylinder will
get thinner as we get closer to the top. Finally the cervical section. It’s the thinnest
and straightest of the sections. So, that’s the side view, now let’s draw it
in ¾ view. The proportions will stay the same, because I’m going to keep the neutral
pose. But now, we need to draw the cylinders as 3- dimensional shapes, rather than the flat shapes
in the side view. To draw a cylinder you have to imagine the ellipses of the top and bottom
caps. If we were looking directly at the caps, it would be a circle. But since we’re
drawing a ¾ view, the circle will be an elongated ellipse with an angle perpendicular to the
direction the cap is facing. The bottom of the lumbar section points forward like this..
So, the angle of the ellipse will be perpendicular to that. Draw the length of the cylinder with
the forward curve. And now the ellipse for the top cap will angle this way because
the cap points backward. There’s some basic ellipse perspective for you guys. That should be enough to draw a cylinder in
perspective. I’ll do the same thing for the thoracic section. It has the backward curve.
Now, notice how the curviness is just a tad straighter in this angle than from side view.
The closer we get to front view, the more it will become this straight line. As we rotate
the spine, the curves go from straight line in front view, to very curvy in side view. Again, same thing for the cervical section. If you really want to challenge yourself,
draw the spine in various positions. This is really helpful to imagine the spine moving
in space. If you don’t have experience with perspective this will be a challenge. But
it’s a good challenge. Keep that in mind and do your best. If you struggle with it, the
best way to improve is to keep working at it. Now, let’s add a sacrum to these spines. The
height of the sacrum is about ¾ of the Lumbar section. The bottom is farther back than the
top. In fact the whole pelvis has this same tilt. Since the ribcage has the opposite tilt,
the torso has this curvature in the neutral position. The sacrum is very curvey. It starts
thicker at the top and thin at the tailbone. From ¾ view, we have to add some width to
the top of the sacrum. It’s not a cylinder like the rest of the spine. It has a triangular
shape. Starts with this thick top plane and comes to a point at the bottom. The 3 major masses One of the most important things about the
spine is that it moves the 3 major masses – The head, rib cage and pelvis. So, it makes
sense to include the 3 masses while you practice drawing the spine. For this lesson, let’s simplify the pelvis
into a cylinder, which is narrower at the bottom. I like to start with an ellipse for
the top plane. Again, remember that the pelvis is tilted forward, so you will see the top plane
more than if the cylinder was vertical. The width of the pelvis cylinder is about the
same as the length of the thoracic section of the spine – 2 units. Find the sides, and then
another ellipse for the bottom plane. In the next lessons, on the pelvis and rib
cage, I’ll show you how to construct more descriptive volumes. For now you can just
stick to a cylinder for the pelvis and an egg-like shape for the rib cage. Finally, let’s put a head on this guy. I’m
a big fan of the loomis method, so I’ll put a loomis head on there. If you don’t know
what that is, check out my video called “How to Draw the Head from Any Angle” Now that we got the basics, let’s go over
the 3 assignments for this week – “Draw Skelly”, “Trace Models” and “Draw
Models”. I recommend doing them in that order because they get progressively harder. You can download the
assignment images at proko.com/how-to-draw-the-spine. The link is in the description. Exercise #1 – Draw Skelly Let’s do an example of the first exercise.
In the assignment images, there are 5 images of Skelly in various poses. The challenge
here is to simplify the bones into the simple volumes that I just showed you. This will
help you get familiar with the shapes and their relationships. Exercise #2 – Trace Models Moving on to the second assignment – Photo
Tracings. This is very much like the Anatomy Tracing assignment we did earlier in this
course. Except this time, instead of analyzing the surface anatomy, we will be finding the skeletal
structure underneath all the surface anatomy. So, in Exercise 1 you got familiar with the
shapes and relationships of the Spine and the 3 major masses. Now, with the real models,
those shapes are not so obvious. You have to think a bit. Figure out where they are. Exercise #3 – Draw Models Aaand Exercise #3.. Very similar to Exercise
2, except this time we’re not tracing! You have to find the masses while keeping track
of proportions and gesture. Do you remember those from the Figure Drawing course? This exists under the surface of this. But
can you see it? Well, probably not at first.. It’s not going to happen on your first try.
You need to keep trying, keep searching for those masses and slowly your ability to see under
the surface will improve. Alright guys, so now it’s your turn. Go ahead
and download the assignment images from the link in the description. Post your drawings
in the anatomy facebook group at facebook.com/groups/anatomy4artists. And check
out proko.com/anatomy for extended anatomy lessons and more examples of the assignments.
That’s proko.com/anatomy. If you
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