"An Artist's Guide to Proportions & Measurements of the Skeletal System"
(232 pages and over 200 original illustrations)
Available in Amazon
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.
In order to make the book as condensed and visually friendly as possible, I have limited the technical terms to those which I consider essential to an art student. Instructional illustrations appear on the right-hand page and corresponding explanations on the left. I tried not to crowd the illustrations with too much information so that students can find answers at a glance, and eventually overcome the need to read the explanations.
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. This is not an anatomy book, this is a very useful working guide. 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 the 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 model's 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.
Learning the skeletal system is the foundation but it is not nearly enough for the artist without knowing the subcutaneous bone landmarks. Subcutaneous means under the skin and bone landmarks refers to visible bony protrusions or projections which can be seen and felt. There are over forty (40) very important to know surface bone landmarks in the human body. Bones landmarks are so fundamental to the artist that I have dedicated a whole chapter to their study. Without their accurate representation, the most perfectly proportioned figure will lack structure and realism.
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.
I have also created the COMPLEMENTARY LAMINATED 2 page/4 sided CHART featuring the most useful "Relative Proportions" and "Subcutaneous Bone Landmarks" from my book. This Chart is extremely handy to have in your studio as a quick reference. The lamination protects it from dust or clay.
To place an order on either Book or Chart please go to amazon.com and type my full name on the tab bar "Marilyn Ines Rodriguez"
Laminated Chart 11.5" x 8.5"