Column Forms of the Arms and Legs

The arm and leg masses have a general similarity and correlation of form. Described simply, the arm and the leg are elongated, jointed two-part members, each of whose parts has a modified cone or cylinder shape.

Arm Side View

Note that both the arm and the leg swivel, or rotate, high in the shoulder (A) or hip (Al); both have a bending, or rocking, joint in the middle of the member at the elbow (B) or the knee (Bl); and both have a terminal gyrating member, the hand or the foot, attached to a tapered base at the wrist (C) or the ankle (C1).

Wrist And Ankle Illustration ImagesFigure Drawing Arm

For all their similarity, the arm and the leg have decidedly different structural rhythms. In the arm, for example, a consistent upward-curving rhythm is present along the entire underarm length from shoulder to elbow, and from elbow to wrist (see arrows).

Elbow Drawing

The curving rhythm of the arm in a rear view. The elbow turns out; therefore, the underarm lifts and the line takes a clear overcurve.

Armpit Realistic DrawLegs Drawing

The clue to the underarm curve is found in the position of the elbow. Locate the elbow, and you will be able to trace the line upward toward the rear armpit; the lower line can be followed from the elbow down to the base of the outer palm. No matter how the arm moves, from simple positions, such as the two extended arms shown above right, to deep, active bends (left), the consistent undercurve is always present. Invariably, this curve provides the basis for the arm's structural rhythm.

Elbow Foreshortened

A frontal figure with arms flexed and foreshortened shows the correlation of double curves (see arrows).

Arms Figure

An arm in deep space extension gives us the underarm double curve (see arrows), proof of the arm's unvarying structural rhythm (left).

Arm OutlineSide View Leg

This side view of the right leg, bent at the knee, shows the structural rhythm of the bent leg clearly indicated (see arrows) with an S-line curve (above).

< The leg has two structural rhythms, one for the front view and one for the side view, each of which is decidedly different from the other. This side view of the right leg shows a long S-line curve taken from the active thrusts of the leg muscles (see arrows). This S-line starts high on the front thigh, reverses at the knee, and moves rearward down the calf bulge (left).

Calf And Thigh AnatomyMuscles The Leg Seated Figure

A three quarter view of the leg of a seated figure seen from the rear. The S-line curve of the leg (see arrows) shows how clearly the structural rhythm of the leg can be seen. While the S-line rhythm establishes a guideline for drawing side views of the legs in many different positions and movements, there is a point where we find a frontal appearance beginning to overrule the side view position. As our viewpoint changes from indirect side to indirect front view, how can we know when the critical point of change has been reached? This question is answered by looking at the position of the anklebone projections. The rule of the side view leg is: an anklebone enclosed by the lower leg contours generally represents a side view orientation.

A side view of the left leg, bent at the knee, shows the S-line curve governing the action of the leg. The erect, far leg (the supporting leg) is in a three quarters position, turned slightly away from side view; but the S-line is still evident in it because the rhythm of the leg structure has a basically side view orientation.

Leg Gesture Drawing

In this figure, the outer anklebone (A) is inside the contour of the left leg (B); hence, we take a side view, 5-line rhythm approach (see arrows).

In this figure, a dual approach of the frontal leg and the sLde leg is dictate by the rule of the anklebone position The lower (right) leg shows the ankle bone held LnsLde the leg outline (A), resulting in a side view, S-line curve (see arrows) which moves down on the thigh from hip to knee, then reverses from knee to ankle with a marked lift on the calf bulge. Compare this with the crossed (left) leg. In this leg, the ankle bones are exposed, protruding beyond the outlines of the ankle (B); hence, it takes a front view orientation.

Images Leg Outlines

The structure of the leg when seen from the front takes on the appearance of an elongated B-shape (see diagram to left of drawing). In relating this diagram to the leg, the straight line of the B-shape will be seen on the inside length of the leg (A), tending to control all form bulges from pubis to knee to ankle, and in most cases the foot as well. The outer leg contour consists of a double curve, the curved part of the B-shape. This double curve can be seen on the outside of the leg (see arrows), moving down from hip to knee (B), and from knee to anklebone. (C). The small line diagram to the left of the drawing shows how the B-shape is applied in the conception of the front view leg as a simple beginning of the final workup beside it. Here-is the rule of the front view leg: When the ankle-bones protrude beyond the contour of the leg. the entire leg may be thought of as a front view leg and can be expressed in an elongated B-shape.

Rhythm The Leg Front View

The B-shape rhythm of the front view leg accounts for all manner of leg bends and actions. In this figure, we see a front view leg with a bent knee; the straight B-shape line is given a corresponding break. Note the exposed anklebones. Once again, these protruding anklebones immediately signal a frontal leg approach, and call for a B-shape control of forms (see arrows).

Leg FrontalAnime Front View

Rear view legs, without exception follow the front view leg rule: exposed anklebones dictate a B-shape approach Note the reversed %-shape in this the quarter action, rear view leg.

In these legs, notice the marked inward curve to the center of the body line. This inward curve especially applies to all shinbones (tibia). In this example, the inward curve of the shinbones has been accentuated (not an uncommon thing in many persons) in order to illustrate a variant of the straight control line of the B-shape formula for the front view leg: the straight line of the can be expressed with a slight over-all curve (as was done here) to hold the inner leg forms in check.

Figure Drawing With LegsDrawing Arm Muscles

In looking at this figure projected into deep space, see how easily the B-shape works to orient the legs in this difficult view (see arrows). The position of the anklebones tells us that the approach must be frontal.

In these front view legs in a hunched, crossed-over position, curved accents have been inserted on the line of the shinbones to emphasize their inward curve. The problem of arranging flexed, overlapped legs is easily solved by using B-shape controls.

Here is another example of crossed front view legs in a cramped position. Only the accented shinbone curves have been drawn in; the B-shape controls have been left out, and the reader is urged to study the drawing and determine them himself.

Sketch Realistic Figure Movements

This figure is added here so that we may recapitulate and combine two of the earlier discussions of the different structural rhythms of the extremities:

note the double curve continuity of the upper and the lower arms (see arrows); the upthrust bent leg is expressed in the 5-line curve of a side view orientation, because the anklebone is held inside the leg contour.

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  • luce
    How to draw arms from side view?
    8 years ago
  • Melanie
    How to draw crossed arms and shoulders in front of head?
    8 years ago
  • tesmi
    What is the name of the joint in the middle of the leg?
    8 years ago
  • marko
    How draw gesture drawings?
    8 years ago
  • marissa
    How to draw realistic arms?
    8 years ago
  • silke
    How to draw human hand and leg by pencil art photos?
    4 years ago

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