How to draw Human Anatomy

In this Anatomy Tutorial, I’ll be starting Anatomy series in LTY starting from ‘How to draw Human Anatomy’. My name is Lalit Adhikari, let’s get started.


From the beginning of modern medicine, human anatomy has existed primarily within the realm of medical education.

Yet there’s something fascinating happening right now. Artists are breaking human anatomy out of the confines of the medical world and are thrusting it into the public space.

But before I get into the details of anatomy, it’s important to understand how art influenced anatomy in the past. Now, anatomy by its nature is a visual science and the first anatomists to understand this lived during the Renaissance.

They relied on artists to help advertise their discoveries to their peers in public. And this drive was not only to teach but also to entertain which resulted in some of the strangest anatomical illustrations.

Anatomy is caught in the struggle between science, art, and culture that lasted for over 500 years. Artists rendered dissected cadavers to understand their anatomy and painted them on their canvas.

The introduction of color brought a whole new depth and clarity to anatomy that made it stunning. The greatest contribution in anatomy from the past was of the artist Leonardo Da Vinci

He was a universal genius. In the early 16th century, he drew the different stages in human development. His anatomical sketches were not only outstanding works of art but for the first time, they provided an accurate insight into the nature of man.

He was the first person who gave the proper guidelines for drawing a human body.

Related Topics:

  1. Foreshortening in Human Anatomy
  2. Muscle Anatomy
  3. Male Anatomy

Defining Anatomy

The term Anatomy refers to the science of understanding the structure and built of a body. This word is derived from a Greek word where ‘ana’ means up and ‘tome’ means cutting. In order to construct something, it is important to understand it.

For an artist, it consists of knowledge of the exact form, shape position, size and relationship with the various structures of the human body. Therefore, to draw an appropriate human figure, you should understand how it is made up.

Importance of Anatomy in Animation

The human body has a complex structure that essentially comprises bones, joints and muscles. In order to express the outer form correctly, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the internal structure of the body.
Comprehensive knowledge of the human anatomy enables the artist in bringing out reality in the form and expression of the human body. It also helps strengthen the observation and visualization skills of the artist.

Related Topics:

  1. Female Anatomy
  2. Anatomy of Head for drawing
  3. 10 reasons Why you are not becoming a good artist

Animation Drawing Vs. Illustration Drawing

Animation drawings are exclusively based on the imagination of the artist whereas Illustration drawings are created using models or photographs.

The analytical and visualization skills of the artist are polished in animation drawings whereas the observation skills of the artist are put to use in illustration drawings. It develops the ability to copy a model and present it using different techniques.

Animation drawings are a collective work of various artists. They attract attention in totality. Whereas illustration drawings are generally the work of an individual artist. It attracts attention as an individual style.

About the human body

A human body is a package of skeleton, muscles and bones. While drawing, it is essential to understand the appearance of each of these elements.


The skeleton or the skeletal system is the armature that defines the human body. It is made up of bones and joints. The skeleton not only helps in keeping the body in shape but also protects the vital organs like the heart, lungs and brain.

Skeleton anatomy study
Human Skeleton


Muscles are about half the weight of the body and are of various types.

The skeletal muscles (muscles attached to bones), play an essential role while drawing. These muscles form the connective tissues and make the body flexible enough to enable movement.

The contraction and expansion of these muscles change the external structure of the human body.

muscles anatomy study
Human Muscles


People around the world have different skin colors and textures. Skin is the biggest organ of the human body that envelopes and protects everything inside the human body. It is also called the miracle garment that is strong and self repairing in nature.

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Parts of the Human Body

HeadThe uppermost part of the human body
NeckConnects the head to the body or trunk
ShouldersConnects the arms to the body or trunk
HandsSymmetrical and both are placed on either side of the body
ChestPart of the human body between the neck and the diaphragm
AbdomenRegion of the body between the thorax and the pelvis
HipsRegion on either side of the body that lie below the waist and above the thigh
LegsThe lowermost part of the human body
Parts of the human body

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  1. Typography
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Standard human body proportions

Proportions helps you understand the relative size of the different parts of a figure or design with respect to the whole figure or design. In simple terms, it refers to the relative size and shape of various elements in a design.

Proportions when used correctly give a natural look to the figures or designs. The proportion of the human body differs between males, females and children. In certain predefined ways, the average human adult body is made up of different parts that are in proportion to each other.

On a broad level, the ratio of the size of the head to the size of it’s body is almost the same in all adults. Hence, the proportion of the human body is generally measured in terms of the head and the unit of measurement is referred to as a head unit.

The head to body ratio of an adult is about 1:7.5 or 1:8

This means that the whole body is seven and a half or eight times the size of head. Most artists draw a human body starting with the head.

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  1. Golden Ratio
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  3. Basics of Design

How to draw a proportional human figure

Now we will be discussing about drawing a human body while maintaining the rules of human anatomy. Now when I say constructing, I essentially mean building it from the scratch and in this case bone.

So, when you are going to draw a human figure, you’ll not be starting off with the details. You will be building the details bit by bit. The start will be from the skeleton (not a literal skeleton). Here, I mean skeleton breakdown or construction lines.

The reason we use construction lines in a drawing because if you start drawing with details then your drawing can very quickly get out of proportion as we haven’t established how things are going to look in a simple form.

Therefore the first step would be to create the geometry of the skeleton in a simpler form as possible. A generic proportion to use for human anatomy is seven and a half heads in height and three heads in width.

human anatomy proportions step 1
Step 1 – How to draw human anatomy
  • For the head part, I break it up into two parts. We have the cranium, which is just a circle and the second part is the jaw (the lower part). I’ve added two lines in the head part, a vertical and a horizontal. The vertical line will be indicating the direction that the head is facing and the horizontal line indicates the eye level.
human anatomy proportions step 2
Step 2 – How to draw human anatomy
  • Moving on to the next part, it is the rib cage. As you can see, I’ve started off with an oval shape and I added a convex shape in the lower part of the oval to just show the shape. Few indication lines for the direction and angle of the rib cage.
human anatomy proportions step 3
Step 3 – How to draw human anatomy
  • Next part is the pelvis. And here, I just went with another oval with two direction lines.

These three areas, the head, torso and the pelvis have the largest group of mass in the human skeleton and therefore large in area. Working from there, I build the construction skeleton with few different shapes.

So, I tend to add circles for the shoulders because in the end there will be quite a large amount of mass there.

human anatomy proportions step 4
Step 4 – How to draw human anatomy
  • I also worked with circles for where the hips start and turn into legs.

For the middle of the torso, I usually go with a line but some artists also go with another circle in the middle. But everybody has different kind of preferences. Everyone has a different method of going about the construction line.

There is no right or wrong way. It is the means to an end and you just want to use a reliable method for your medium as possible.

human anatomy proportions step 5
Step 5 – How to draw human anatomy
  • I then go for a line in the neck where the spine goes and then start adding lines for the limbs. For the elbow joint I make little circles and from there I let the arms out.
human anatomy proportions step 6
Step 6 – How to draw human anatomy
  • From the pelvis, I bring down the lines and made it up to the little joint in the knees and lastly, the lines down to where the legs end up going.

And that is my human skeleton. Even though it might look quite simple but from here we essentially add chunks and work with the shape to build the silhouette. So, bit by bit we are able to see our final result emerge.

human anatomy proportions step 7
Step 7 – How to draw human anatomy
  • And in the next process, roughly block out where the muscles group will go. You don’t need to add the details yet. 

So, as you can see up to this point we’ve drawn a rough sketch of a human figure starting off with only a few construction lines.

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  1. Elements of Design
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Male Human Body – Front Pose (Front Angle or Front View)

proportions human anatomy
Male Human Body – Front Pose

As the figure clearly shows, the general proportions of a male human body (front post or front angle). The proportion of the male human body is measured from the top of the drawing using the ‘Head’ as the standard unit of measurement.

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Male Human Body – Side Pose (Side Angle or Side View)

side view of human anatomy
Male Human Body – Side Pose
  • The proportions of male human body vary slightly when viewed from the side.
  • The foot measures slightly more than one head unit.
  • The male human torso measures two head units.
  • The body is straight from head to the knee and bends from knee to the feet.

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Male Human Body – Back View (Back Angle or Back Pose)

The front view and back view of a male human body are very similar which can easily be seen in the figure.

back view of human anatomy
Male Human Body – Back View
  • The lower edges of the shoulder blades are two head units down from the head.
  • The shoulders are a little over two head units.
  • The hips are about one and half head units.
  • The lower edges of the buttocks fall a little below the midpoint of the male human body.
  • The horizontal creases at the back of the knee that separates the upper and lower legs are a little above than two head units up from the heel.

If you are following our Free Anatomy Lessons and Tutorial Guide, then next you should read about, ‘Anatomy of Human Head for Drawing‘.

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Lalit Adhikari
Lalit Adhikari

Lalit Adhikari is the Main Author and Admin at Learn That Yourself. He has work experience of more than 10 years in the field of Multimedia and teaching experience of more than 5 years.

Articles: 275


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