This was week 6 (the week before last) that I forgot to post after I posted week 5. So, it’s technically done on time–I just forgot to post it. I procrastinated this last week and haven’t done week 7’s yet. But I’m working on it!


This theme was ‘my favorite animal’ which is the giant squid. I like squids in general, but specifically Architeuthis dux.


My favorite animal!

My favorite animal!

I want to start a series on anatomy because I think a lot of people are genuinely interested in the subject from both an artistic and a non-artistic perspective. Human anatomy is also one of the most difficult subjects to master. I can’t really explain why, it just is. It’s taken me many years to get to the level that I am and there are many artists who surpass me in leaps and bounds. Although I am proud of my own accomplishments, which is more important than any level of skill. shoulderandneck3
Now that I’ve probably intimidated you, let’s begin. I’m going to break these down into short, but several, lessons. That way you can learn what you want at your own pace. I’ll start this one off by talking about human anatomy as a whole.

If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll be familiar with the observing and studying I mention a lot. For this subject, it couldn’t be any more applicable. Which should be obvious, but some people seem to think that most artists just pull this out of thin air, other artists included.
Just so you know, this will probably be the most time consuming and area of most needed practice. Especially for early beginners.

I would suggest purchasing a book on anatomy. It doesn’t even have to be an art book, just get an encyclopedia or nursing book. They are a wealth of information because you’ll want to study the subject first before you start. I’m not suggesting you need to be a doctor or physical therapist, but it’s good to be at least visually familiar with everything.


Start by using a model. This could be a live model like a friend or family member. Or an inanimate one including a plain googled image on the web. Use different models too, everyone has different body types. Of course, overall the human body is about the same when it comes to placement of certain parts, but weight and height vary. I won’t get too detailed about that in this post. We’ll focus on the general placement first.


I’d take a good look at this photo in particular and I’ll break it down for you.

We’ll start with the upper body:


The head can be any shape at the beginning stage. Just so you understand the placement. So it doesn’t matter if it’s rounded or more of an oval shape. Then draw two lines representing the neck, which will be connected to a trapezoid shape (which is the chest area).


Moving on to the bottom half of the torso draw an elongated trapezoid, similar to the first one. Then attaching a triangle to that. These are the waist and hips. Since we’re using a male model, we’ll stick with a masculine physique for now. A woman’s hips will be much larger.

Continuing with the upper body, draw two small circles at the top corners of the first trapezoid for the shoulders. Like so:


Make sure they’re not too big, but not too small. You’ll also want to overlap part of the trapezoid.

The next thing you’ll want to do is draw an elongated oval, or an almond shape if you prefer, overlapping the circles you just drew. I did both:


Then, repeat the process you just did. A good indication of the length of the arm is that the elbow joint is about in the center of the waist. The ovals for the upper arm and forearms are around the same length. Of course, some people have different lengths, but overall you want it roughly even.


Remember to sketch lightly! My sketches look dark only because I purposefully darkened them for this tutorial so you could see them. Otherwise they’re hard to see. You’ll need to press lightly for the 3rd part of this tutorial.

Lastly, for this lesson anyway, we’ll add the hands. Yes, those dreaded hands!

I’m letting you in on a secret (draw a skinny hexagon!). Like so:


Congratulations!  You’re halfway there to getting the base finished!


Yes, our little man looks kind of silly. Don’t worry about him looking ‘pretty’ at this point and time, we’ll add details later. The point is to get a foundation laid out so you can build from it.

Thanks for tuning in and check back later for the other parts! (No pun intended?)



I wanted to touch on some common mistakes that I’ve noticed some beginners make. Mostly because I used to do a lot of the same things myself. If you find yourself doing some of these things, don’t feel bad. No artist was a master the first time he picked up a pencil (or a brush). Kneaded_eraser

Good art takes time, effort, and a lot of practice. But, you can also practice wrong. The sooner you can recognize bad habits, the sooner you can fix them. Which will either make it easier for you in the long run (your skills will also improve faster).


Be Gentle

I love watching my 10 year old sister-in-law draw. She’s actually quite good for her age, but she has a bad habit of pressing too hard. I think I noticed it only because that’s a common problem for myself still. I’m not so bad at it anymore, but I slip up occasionally.

Why is this so bad? You’re not only creating more stress on your own hand but you’re basically carving into the paper. Which makes it harder to erase mistakes. You don’t want to end up with a piece of artwork that you’re really happy with—only to have a strange and distracting ghost-like image off to one side. Trust me.

How do I fix it? If you find yourself doing this, it’s really a simple fix, just don’t press as hard. Be sure too that you’re not drawing one continuous line or holding the pencil strangely (hold it just like you do when you write). Use short, light, strokes of the pencil. This not only gives you better control over the subject you’re trying to capture on paper, but it leaves plenty of room for error. Also remember, the softer the pencil lead you use, the lighter you need to press (this doesn’t apply when shading). I wouldn’t recommend using anything other than an HB or 2B pencil when doing the first rough sketch though. Stick with the harder and softer leads only when adding details.


No Gaps

Shading has to be one of the most difficult things I’ve noticed for beginners. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure why. If you can color from dark to light, you can shade. Practice makes perfect, of course, but it doesn’t stop there either. A lot of people seem to leave gaps while shading (or go in different directions). Don’t be lazy just because you’re going to blend it later. It actually turns out smoother and cleaner looking if you take the time to color in the shaded areas completely. Then you can blend it. It simply gets rid of the pencil strokes and makes the shadows look more natural. Don’t rely on sloppy shading to get the results you want. I can say the same about shading in different directions, which I mentioned in a previous post.



The common mistakes made with lighting is different here, than common misunderstanding of the subject. If you haven’t read my previous post on lighting you can here. This part can only really be fixed by fully paying attention to how the scene or object is placed in relation to the source of light. It’s easy to forget where shadows go if you haven’t studied your original set up or don’t have a definite light source. Make sure you really pay attention to what you’re doing. Well, you should anyway. But if shading is a problem for you, it may be because you don’t know where your light source originates. Remember, it’s about training your eyes as well as your hands. I can say the same about perspective.

Study, study, study! I can’t learn it for you.


 Don’t Be Wasteful

Another mistake I commonly see is wasting paint (and art supplies in general). This isn’t always due to lack of artistic skill or knowledge, sometimes you just aren’t prepared. However, the more you are used to using your tools properly, the less likely this is to happen. Sometimes you don’t even know how to prepare for something. It’s perfectly okay to experiment. You’re going to be doing that anyway. My point is to remember to not do it needlessly. If you know what a piece requires don’t be lazy, plan it out.

Paint is most often wasted. If you are working on a painting and you want stop and work on it later, make sure you have some kind of container with an air-tight lid. This way you cover the paint blobs without them drying out. I use something like this. Or, if you’d prefer, you can squirt the paint out onto some foil or plastic and then carefully place the foil (or plastic) into an air-tight container of your choice.


Be Confident!

The most used statements I hear from people (artists and non-artists alike) is: “I wish I was that good” or “I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler” or “______ is the hardest for me, I just can’t do it”. If you want to learn something, then learn it. Ever hear the quote “Every expert in anything was once an amateur”? It’s true.

Also, don’t compare your skills with another artist’s skills. They may have way more experience than you. I can guarantee that every single artist did not start out naturally knowing everything. They learned it from somebody. Some people do have a gift, yes, but it still takes practice and work to get anywhere. You must have confidence in your own abilities, don’t put yourself down. You won’t get any better by giving up or feeling bad about yourself. If art is something you’re passionate about, if it’s what gets you out of bed in the morning, then do it. Work towards your goals.

Lastly, be happy with your own work. If you are not pleased with your own work, and not because you fail to have confidence, then work on the areas you’re not happy with. An art piece you create could look horrible to someone else, but if you’re happy with it, then it doesn’t matter. Celebrate the little accomplishments as well. You finally mastered a certain technique? Does that hand you tried to draw a thousand times look better than last time? Great! Those are the things that keep you motivated.


Now go out there and make good art.