Posted in Anatomy

Introduction to Muscle Anatomy

In my last two blogs in anatomy series, I had written about how to a basic human figure from a skeleton and foreshortening. And now the next part is about understanding muscles, Introduction to Muscle Anatomy, how muscles work and it’s anatomy.

In this Introduction to Muscle Anatomy blog post, I will tell you about what you have to learn in each muscle and some general muscle anatomy. Although, there are basic checklists of things that you must know about muscles prior to learning any muscles anatomy but that depends upon how deep you want to learn.

For example: muscles name, origin, insertion, function, antagonist, and form. It not very important to know the name of every muscle but knowing the name does have its benefits. Knowing the muscles name allows us to remember every intrinsic detail about muscles when you are drawing.

There is usually some logic to the name that hints at the muscle’s location, function or form.

For example: The ‘Extensor Digitorum’ muscle. This is the muscles in your hands that extends or straightens your digits.

Where the muscles attach it’s important to know as well. It helps us precisely and confidently map out the muscles. It also hit’s at the muscle’s function.

There are two areas of attachments in a muscle: The Origin and The Insertion

  • The Origin: It is the attachment to the skeleton that is more stationary and close to the center.
  • The Insertion: It is the attachment of the further and more movable part of the body.

You should also know about the function or action each muscle is responsible for. And luckily, knowing the function is pretty easy because muscles can only do one thing i.e. contract.

When you flex a muscle it contracts and pulls the insertion closer to the origin. Muscles work in pairs. When one muscles contract, its antagonist is stretched out.

The biceps flexes the arm and the triceps extend the arm.

In your drawings try to exaggerate the hardness of the active muscles and let the relaxed muscles conform to gravity.

Being aware of the muscles function before drawing the figure is good so that you can know which muscles to flex and which to relax and your poses will have greater animations and impact because of it.

If you want to draw a superhero figure, then you can definitely ignore what I’ve just said above.

A muscle’s name attachments and function can be summed up in just a few words. But we all are artists, what we really need to study is the shape and form of muscles.

We have to understand the muscles in three dimensions so that we can draw its shape from all angles. This includes variations of muscles like stretched, relaxed or flexed and different body types.

To understand that you need to study the plane changes, the simplified forms and other details of the muscles. It will help you to invent figures from your imagination and make them anatomically correct and dynamic.

In a muscle, there are two parts:

  • Muscles Fibers
  • Tendons

The muscle fibers usually flow from the axis of muscles, though there are exceptions. Muscles fibers are grouped into bundles which can be seen on the surface form, usually when the muscles are active. Wrinkles and skin fold always happen in the perpendicular direction of the muscles fibers. When you flex a muscle it’s the muscle fibers t that shortens not the tendons.

Tendons are like the tape that attaches the muscles to the bones. They don’t squash or stretch but they vary in shape, length, and thickness from tendons to tendons. Tendons are thick enough that they will add mass to the surface form.

Here, you need to understand a thing:

  • Tendons connect muscle to bone.
  • Ligaments connect bone to bone
  • Fascia connects muscle to muscle.

An aponeurosis is a special type of tendon that’s large and thin. And for artists, that means it won’t obscure the form of the muscles beneath it.

An interesting fact is that- the length of the muscle fibers versus the length of the tendons varies from person to person. Bodies with proportionally longer muscle fibers tend to look more graceful.  Even if the individual is very muscular, the muscles appear to curve in and out in elegant slender slopes.

In my next blog in anatomy series, I will be telling you about the anatomical differences of male and female body and how muscles differ in them.

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