Muscle Is Good

Muscles do the work of moving the skeleton, from large sweeping motions like running to small subtle movements like smiling or breathing. There are over 600 muscles in the body, doing a variety of functions. Attached with ligaments to bones at either end, they can contract and become shorter and thicker, or they can stretch and become longer and thinner. For drawing purposes, we are concerned with the large ones that shape the torso and limbs, and the complex muscles of the face that create expression, a kinesic function.

The torso is all the bone and muscles forming the middle of the body, from the shoulders to the pelvis. Flexing and stretching is possible because of the flexibility of the spine, which, as the middle-aged among us know, varies tremendously from person to person. The combinations of twists and turns are amazing, really. The spine even has a double curve when in a standing position.

The front of the torso is a sheet of muscles, including abdominals, which bend the body forward, and sacrospinals, the back muscles, which bend it backward. The chest muscles— pectorals—form the bulk of the chest, and breasts are glandular, with a covering of fat.

The wide range of motion in the arms is a function of the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder and the clavicle (collarbone) and scapula (shoulder bone), which are not tightly attached and move to allow stretches and reaches.

Muscles in the shoulder section are the pectorals, the chest, the trapezius, the shoulders, and the latissimus dorsi on the back. The shoulder muscle is the deltoid. Arm muscles go from the shoulder to the elbow (biceps on the front and triceps on the back), and another set go to the wrist.

Legs are shaped by large muscles that support the weight of the body and move it about. Gluteus maximus, the large muscles of the buttocks, go over the pelvis to the legs. Thigh muscles (biceps and rectus femoris) go from the hip to the knee and the calf (gastronemus) and shin muscles go from the knee to the ankle.

Artist's Sketchbook

Kinesics is the study of body movements, gestures, and facial expressions as a means of communication.

The muscles of the body: Drape a skeleton with muscles and you've got a body ready to move.

Studying muscle movement will inform your figure studies with a knowledge of kinesics.

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