The best way to study anatomy is to set up a book of anatomical diagrams before you, and set up an art-Store manikin alongside it. Draw tlie action from the manikin and the muscles from the book. You can also make rough sketches of the manikin itself for general bulk and action only,
Just copying anatomical diagrams does not seem very helpful to most students. The muscles must somehow be built upon a frame or figure in order to get their proportion and relationship to the figure as a whole. The joints of the manikin are usually balls of some kind, and of course such joints must eventually be covered up. For this reason it is well to concentrate on the muscles of the shoulders, and those of the thighs, especially at the hips. Then study the chest, waist, and buttocks. Next get the back, then the arms and the whole leg. To balance the manikin on its feet requires about the same arrangement of limbs and torso that the human needs to hold its balance.
The manikin is intended for line only, not for the study of the figure in light and shadow, The lighting on these simplified forms is not enough like that on live models, We consider later the figure in light and shadow.
Work in the life class should be done with the anatomy book open. It is difficult to start drawing the figure from life without any previous preparation. Upon entering a life class the student should have a fairly accurate idea of the proportions of the figure in heads, and in sixths, as illustrated on page 107. I have tried to cover most of the problems of figure drawing in a previous volume, Figure Drawing for All It's Worth.
Some instructors object to die use of the wooden manikin, since the action is only an ap proximation at best, and there is no actual play of muscle to go by. This objection is sound, provided the person studying drawing has life classes available, the time for them, and the funds to pay for them. I gladly agree that any young person who intends to make a living at art should by all means attend life classes, However, I believe that the manikin has an important use for the study of action, since a live model cannot hold an action pose for any length of time. Working from the manikin tends to loosen up the student's figure drawing. When an artist gets out into the active practice of his art, he can seldom draw a figure posed as it would be posed in a life class for twenty to twenty-five minutes at a time. The static poses of the art class should be much more for the study of light on form> values, and color.
To get figures in action the artist is almost forced to use the camera, and many present-day artists have high-speed cameras for this purpose. However, for an action picture, the artist should have a well-developed knowledge of the figure under the drapery. It docs 110 harm to make the figure do something besides stand or sit, or perhaps hold a rod or pole. The pose or gesture of the figure does much to make it tell a story. If you intend to be an illustrator, you must have action in your work, or it will not be very sue-cessful.
The manikin helps particularly in making preliminary sketches or developing rough ideas which hardly warrant the expense of a model, A model can be lured for the last stage of the work or for the material from which the final work will be drawn.
The student should of course use his own judgment. If he finds that the manikin helps, let him use it
Manikins are a great help in developing action in figure drawing, in that they can be put into "still poses no live model could hold. Th«y can be purchased at most art dealers. Their approximate construction is shown by the figure at the right. For comparison, the figure at the left shows the ideal proportions of the male human figure. The line at the extreme left shows divisions of the height of the figure of ideal proportions. One side of the line is divided into sixths and the other side into eighths. These two sets of divisions indicate the important points of the figure- Memorize these scales.
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