Anatomy for the Artist By Sarah Simblet walks developing artists through looking at anatomy with photos, bronchitis illustrated transparent overlays, and various Master works from Raphael to Holbein, Degas to Bacon, in tandem with models photographed by John Davis.
I found the book to be informative for base skeletal and muscle structures of both the full body and individual parts. The translucent illustrated overlays over Davis’ photography work are a helpful addition to seeing where skeletal structures are situated in the body and where they most affect form. The texts relating to drawing from anatomy studies have an encouraging tone, She explains pitfalls and how to avoid falling into them and she gives tactics to develop good habits to help developing artists. She draws attention to small and easily missed anatomy quirks such as the dominant hand clavicle having more curve the the other. Simblet’s writing is clear and easy to follow.
The models used, especially noticeable with the male models, have extremely similar body types of the mesomorph/ectomorph* combination with similar muscle distribution. It would be more beneficial if there was a variety of endomorphic, ectomorphic, and mesomorphic* stand alone types and combinations. Additionally, it would also be beneficial to see how fat distribution and more than one type of muscle distribution affects form.
(Howard Schatz’s professional athlete line up is good example for body diversity)
yoooo check it!
The “MasterClass” sections at the end of each chapter speculates how each artist focused on would have used reference, showing the contemporary model posed in a similar manner to the human subjects of the paintings. Their inclusion encourages the viewer to study how each artist manipulates forms and provides context for the importance of studying the human form.
The overview of the history of anatomy studies at the beginning is intriguing; however, it feels out of place in a book that focuses on how to see and work with anatomy. Since Simblet has included “MasterClass” sections, the information in these pages could have been used to expand upon the existing MasterClasses and create additional MasterClass studies; its inclusion feels a little tacked on.
I enjoyed Simblet’s artwork used in the latter part of the book, and I found her works provided a contemporary context of how to utilize anatomy studies in illustrations.
I had purchased this book with the intent of using it for anatomy reference. Though the text is useful , I found the models to be too similar and often found myself searching google images rather than actually utilizing the photographs. It’s a really pretty book and a great tool for artist just starting out.
*Meso, endo, ecto is more of a descriptor and very loose category system rather than actual science
tldr: pros: MasterClass and text, cons: lack of body diversity and history that could be more MasterClasses instead
Schatz, Howard. Athlete. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. Print.
Simblet, Sarah, and John Davis. Anatomy for the Artist. New York: DK Pub., 2001. Print.