"An Artist's Guide to Proportions & Measurements of the Skeletal System"
(232 pages and over 200 original illustrations)
Teaching classical figure sculpture classes since 1996 has given me insight into students' common mistakes and questions. I have heard over and over: "Are my proportions correct?" "Is the head too big?" "Do the hands look all right?" "Are the legs too short?" These are the questions that compelled me to write this book.
This book is mainly dedicated to the human skeletal system, as bones are the basic structure of the human body and the primary point of departure of relative proportions. I have introduced the skeletal system with fairly accurate and clear bone Illustrations without the distraction of any other anatomical parts. As opposed to subsequent chapters which main objective is to provide the artist with useful and practical information over anatomical clarity.
Relative proportions are defined as the comparative measurements among the parts of the body. These measurements are taken from the bones, usually between the joints. I learned many of these relative proportions as a student; others were taken from the great works of Leonardo Da Vinci and from reputable contemporary anatomist. I have carefully selected the ones in this book according to their level of usefulness to the artist and the ease of measurement with a respectable degree of accuracy. You can go to various sources for your information, but this book will pull them together in a way I have yet to find in another book.
I want to make clear that these relative proportions should not be considered the ultimate measurements on human beauty nor are they infallible. However, they are exceptionally useful and indispensable guidelines for the artist. If you are working from a model, I recommend following the models measurements if you wish to create a piece with its own individual characteristics. On the other hand, if you are working from memory, or from photographs, following these guidelines will undoubtedly help you render a well-proportioned figure.
I discuss in detail hands, feet and ears, all body parts that are a main source of intimidation for most students. Hence I have included a comprehensive step-by-step guide as to how best to represent them. The book ends with exchanges I have shared with my students in which I answer their questions and share my experience and observations on diverse subject matters.
Ultimately there are no shortcuts to becoming a fully skilled artist. It requires a huge commitment, discipline and practice. In the end we usually see what we expect to see, therefore a large portion of the quality of your work has a direct correlation to what you have learned. The discipline of studying the human figure is a never-ending challenge. In fact no artist really gets to fully master it. Fortunately we are so complex physically and mentally that we offer endless visual metaphors and thus endless gratification.