Anatomy for the Artist / Edition 1

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Specially taken photographs show the construction of the human body while underlying anatomical structures are revealed using illustrations by the author.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Enhance your life-drawing skills with Anatomy for the Artist, an in-depth study of the skeleton and the muscle groups. Hundreds of full-color photographs, translucent overlays, and illustrations highlight internal as well as external features of the human body. Drawing lessons take artists through the subtleties of drawing bones, portraying movement, and depicting perspective.
Artist and teacher Simblet (Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford U.) presents six drawing classes that demonstrate how to see inside the human frame, map its muscle groups, skeletal strength, balance, poise and grace. Investigation of ten masterworks, together with a photographed model set in the same pose, reveal the ideas and knowledge of various artists across time. Extensively illustrated with color and b&w images, including some that are superimposed over photographs to reveal the relationships between external appearance and internal structure. Oversize: 10x11.75<">. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789480453
  • Publisher: DK
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1 AMER ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 104,583
  • Product dimensions: 10.13 (w) x 11.75 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Read an Excerpt

The Forearm and Hand
The dissection and portrayal of the forearm and hand hold a unique and special place in the history of anatomy. Like the brain, they have a significance far beyond the understanding of mechanical function and form. In Christian Europe, the forearm and hand have been seen as God's most profound creation, his tool on earth. The most famous example of this belief is Rembrandt's "Dr. Nicolaes Tulp Demonstrating the Anatomy of the Arm" (1632). The eminent surgeon stands surrounded by intrigued colleagues as he demonstrates the workings of what Aristotle had called "the instrument of instruments."

Hands are supreme instruments of touch. Their sensitivity and delicacy of control make them our primary antennae in out interaction with the word. Their strength and articulation have contributed enormously to our physical environment and to the entire history of artifacts. As organs of highly sophisticated engineering, hands continue to be the subject of profound interests to artists. The contemporary Australian performance artist Stelarc, who builds robotic extensions of his own anatomy, wears a third forearm and hand: a perspex-and-steel device that questions rather than copies the original. In its avoidance of simple mimicry it reflects, like Dr. Tulp, on the meaning and design of this remarkable limb.

The Forearm and Hand Bones
The long bones of the forearm are named the ulna and radius. They lie parallel to each other and are joined at the elbow and wrist. The ulna is placed on the medial or little finger side of the forearm, and the radius is lateral, on the thumb side. They are connected by a fine interosseous membrane, which gives an additional area of attachment to muscles

The ulna is longer, set slightly higher, and behind. Its proximal end is thick and flattened, forming the familiar bony point of the elbow. This point is named the olecranon, and it fits into the olecranon fossa of the humerus, when the limb is held out straight. The anterior surface of the bone forms a tight cup around the trochlea. The olecranon and trochlea meet at a hinged synovial joint. Their movement is restocted to flexion end extension (backward end forward) through one plane. The shaft of the ulna is prismatic (or three sided) throughout most of its length. It gradually tapers, becoming both more slender and cylindrical toward the wrist. The rounded distal end of the ulna (named the head) is excluded from the wrist joint by an articular cartilaginous disk.

The head (or proximal end) of the radius is small, rounded, and flat. It articulates with the capitulum of the humerus above and the radial notch of the ulca to its medial side. It is embraced by a bandlike annular ligament. The shaft of the radius rotates freely across the ulna in its own longitudinal axis. This movement carries the hand from pronation (turning the palm down) to supination (turning the palm upward). Below the head of the radius, the shaft narrows to a slim neck, at the base of which (in front) is the radial tuberosity This supports the insertion of biceps brachii, which flexes and supinates the foreamm. The shaft of the radius is grooved and ridged for the attachment of muscles passing via tendons into the hand. The bone grows wider and flatter toward its distal end, where it articulates with the head of the ulna and the navicular and lunate bones of the wrist. The radius alone carries the skeleton of the hand.

Eight carpal bones shape the wrist. These are small, irregular, and tightly bound by ligaments. Arranged in two curved rows, they are named navicular, lunate, triquetral, pisiform, trapezoid, trapezium, capitate, and hamate. Carpal bones form a short and flexible tunnel, which is bridged and maintained by a strong ligament. The tunnel encloses and protects tendons, blood vessels, and nerves passing beneath. Five metacarpal bones give form and curve to the palm. These articulate at their base with one or more bones of the wrist. At their heads, they support a finger or thumb. The four metacarpals of the palm are tied together by ligaments at their distal heads. The first metacarpal (of the thumb) is independent and rotated through 90 degrees to oppose and press against the palm. There are fourteen phalanges (or finger bones): three in each finger and two in the thumb. Each phalanx (formed of a base, shaft, and head) tapers to give shape and precision to the fingers.

The Forearm and Hand Muscles
The two bones of the forearm are almost constantly in motion throughout our lives, turning back end forth in perpetual service to the hand. Their movement of the wrist and fingers is controlled by more than 30 slender muscles, arranged in layers from the elbow to the palm.

The muscles and accompanying tendons of the forearm and hand fall into three groups. Long extensor muscles shape the posterior of the forearm and pass into the dorsum (or back) of the hand. These supinate the palm and extend the wrist, fingers, and thumb. Flexor muscles cover the anterior of the forearm and pass into the palm. These pronate the palm and flex the wrist, fingers, and thumb. Muscles contained within the palm give mass to the hand, while flexing, extending, adducting, and abducting the fingers and thumb. The long tendons of the forearm divide and insert into numerous bones, giving strength and dexterity to the carps s, metacarpals, and phalanges of the hand.

Muscles and tendons of the forearm are generally named according to their origins and insertions onto bone, relative lengths, and action. Names are therefore often very long. This may seem complicated, but it is actually very helpful in understanding the movement of the limb. For example, flexor carpi ulnaris (far right) flexes the wrist (or carpus) on the side of the ulna. Extensor carpi radialis longus (near right) is the longer of two muscles extending the wrist on the side of the radius. Flexor digti minimi brevis is a short flexor of the littlie finger. Extensor pollicis longus is the long extensor of the thumb, while abductor pollicis longus is the long abductor of the thumb. Palmaris longus is a very long slender muscle tying to the palm.

Of all the muscles of the forearm, palmaris is particularly weak and insignificant. However, it is of special interest because it is often missing, or only present in one forearm. Its absence is sometimes attributed to the refining process of our continuous evolution. Anatomical variations appear throughout the body. Various structures, including muscles and bones, may be either absent a multiplied on one side of the body, perhaps unusually extended, divided, pierced, a united to an adjacent part. When present, palmaris longus can be found in the wrist as a small threadlike tendon, medial to the much thicker cord of flexor carpi radialis.

As muscles contract, they shorten, rise, pull against their tendons, and draw lines of tension between the banes into which they are rooted. Flexed muscles will try to pass in straight lines between their points of origin and insertion, and they are only prevented from doing so by intervening bones, joints, adjacent muscles, and thickened bands of fascia tying their straining fibers into place. More than 20 tendons pass through the wrist. A few of these are visible when taut, and they can seem to press against the skin. They are, however, tied or bound against the bones by thickened fibrous bands named retinacula. Flexor and extensor retinacula enable tendons of the hand to change direction at the wrist, without taking shortcuts across to the forearm.

Tendons inserting within the fingers are similarly bound, to the knuckles. It is important to note that there are no muscles in the fingers -- only tendons on either side of the bones, tied by fibrous bands into lubricated synovial sheaths. The small fleshy bellies of each finger are composed of fatty tissue, carrying blood vessels and nerves, and cushioning flexor tendons against the grip of the hand. Broadly speaking, the dorsum is bony and tendinous, beneath a covering of loose skin. The palm is more muscular and fatty. The muscles of the palm are enclosed beneath a sheet of thickened fascia. Named the palmar aponeurosis, this protects and strengthens the palm. It also ties the skin above to muscles and bones below, holding it firm, and preventing it from slipping when we grasp a surface. The palmar aponeurosis is composed of three parts: a very dense fan-shaped center, flanked by much finer medial and lateral extensions covering the base of the smallest finger and thumb and becoming continuous with the dorsal fascia of the hand. At its apex, the aponeurosis blends with the tendon of palmaris longus, leading in from the wrist. At its base, deep fibres blend with the digital sheaths of flexor tendons and with the transverse metacarpal ligament. Superficial fibres tie to the skin of the fingers and palm, while from its deep surface intermuscular septa pass between muscles of the hand to reach the metacarpal bones beneath.

From Anatomy for the Artist, by Sarah Simblet. © 2001 Sarah Simblet. Used by permission.

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Table of Contents


The Art of Anatomy
Respiratory, Digestive, Urinary
Endocrine, Nervous, Lymphatic, Cardio-vascular
The Head
Skull Bones
Facial Muscles
Neck Muscles
Ears and Hair
The Spine
The Spine bones
Masterclass: Jean-Auguste Ingres
The Torso
Rib Cage
Masterclass: Francis Bacon
The Shoulder and Arm
Masterclass: Jacques-Louis David
The Forearm and Hand
Masterclass: Jose de Ribera
The Hip and Thigh
Masterclass: Edward Hopper
The Leg and Foot
Masterclass: Hans Holbein
The Body in Space
The Model on Paper
Masterclass: Edouard Manet
Masterclass: Edgar Degas
Transparent Bodies
Drawing the Skeleton
The Skeleton in Perspective
Masterclass: Michelangelo
Drawing the Head
Drawing the Rib Cage
Drawing the Pelvis
Drawing the Hands
Masterclass: Raphael
Drawing the Feet
Key Terms
Further Reading

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2006

    Great But Not Enough

    I'm an artist who is skilled in drawing, but I have not taken a course in anatomy. I tried to learn it using this book alone. I copyied six photographs from sight, and then tried to transpose the muscles over, based on her sketches of muscle groups. Her sketches are very good, but incomplete, especially concerning the shoulder muscles and how they connect to the arms, and torso. The muscles of the back also require additional drawings. A few more of her drawings would greatly improve this book's potential to teach. Also, instead of having one seperate chapter on motion, with few drawings, she should show how motion effects every part of the body in each section of the body. It would make the book much larger and more expensive, but it would be well worth it. I only suggest these additions because I recognize her incredible knowledge and the potential her book has to help many artists. I recommend this book for references and to learn legs, forearms, and hands, but as it is now, it is not enough to teach you anatomy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2005

    Superb resource for any artist

    There are a number of anatomy books on the market these days, focusing on (aspiring) fantasy artists, comic book artists, and artists-in-general. Some of these books are worthwhile, and others fall flat. Sarah Simblet's 'Anatomy for the Artist' will hold a place of honor on the shelf of any artist. Published by DK publishing, a company which produces high-quality, detailed, and user-friendly books on a number of subjects, this book satisfies the need for an anatomy book with focused tutorials and insignt. Simblet provides a number of essays and lecture-style tutorials in this book, but the real genius of the work is its format. First, it is separated into sections by parts of the body, allowing easy reference for the artist. Second, the book offers not only detailed pencil renderings of the various segments of human anatomy - both bone and muscle - by Simblet herself, but also excellent photographic references. Transparent overlays combining the renderings and photography add a fine 'how to' touch to the book. It should be noted, however, that this book is not appropriate for young audiences, as it features nude (albeit tasteful) photography of the human body. This book is highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Resource

    This book is great for the artist studying the human body. The overlays of muscles and bones over the photographs really help grasp the mass of the body.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    Super Duper

    Awesome book, beautiful photographs, unique poses. Overlays valuable in understanding the anatomy of the body.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2012

    Excellent anatomy backup for the artist

    This book is an excellent anatomical back-up resource for most artists who do not have access to a live model every time they put pen to paper or brush to canvas. This is a good foundation book, but you might still feel that this doesn't cover all the ground.

    Some of the pros are:
    a. The transparent overlays of the skeletal system that nicely fit over the actual pictures of the human form - perfect visualization of how the skeleton, musculature and skin all fit together.
    b. Detailed pictures on every part of the anatomy, with descriptions.

    I feel that the following could be added to make this book truly a one stop resource:

    a. Action/movement - pictures of male and female anatomy, how they look under vigorous movement (foreshortening, stretching, flexure, compression and light/shadow)- there are some pictures, but we need many, many more.
    b. Breast section - definitely given less attention; needs more pictures, different types etc. Effect of gravity in the breasts of reclining, supine, walking, running and standing figures.
    c. Hands, feet and face - needs more attention, more pictures, all sorts of flexure and bending.
    d. Shadow/light: A set of male/female pictures with extreme or hard directional lighting which bring out contours would have been very useful.
    d. More than anything, a section devoted to less than perfect physical specimens, both male and female would be really critical. In real life, not all the subjects are in peak condition, some are older, some are over/underweight, with sagging skin, muscles and appendages. This section would be critical for the artist who desires to draw more realistic subjects.

    Notwithstanding anything I have said above, I am VERY happy with this book - it still makes for a wonderful foundation anatomy resource for every artist. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the perfect anatomy resource, this book gets a 7.5 in my opinion.

    DEFINITELY worth purchasing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2005

    Deconstruction and Reconstruction: Anatomy as Art as Anatomy

    Sarah Simblet is not only a fine artist in her own right and a solid teacher at both the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University and at the Royal College of Art in London, she is also a fine writer for both art students and art lovers. In this exceedingly well-conceptualized and executed book Simblet draws upon photography of live models (by John Davis), pen and ink drawings on transparent paper through which the photographed nudes can be seen, anatomical specimens (where plastic has been injected into donated cadavers then treated with acid corrosion so that only the plastic in the veins and arteries remains), skeletons, and working sketches from the model as well as examples from the master painters to provide more visual information about her subject than anyone to date. After a brief but elegant history of figure drawing, the book is separated into sections by body parts and systems (Structure of the human body, head with bones and muscles, spine, torso, shoulder and arm, forearm and hand, hip and thigh, leg and foot) with each of these section she composes a Master Class based on the works of great painters (Ingres, Bacon, David, Ribera, Hopper, Holbein, Manet, Michelangelo, Raphael) matched with models posed in those famous poses for deconstructive examination of how each painter worked. She then turns her book into a course on drawing these various body parts, a section in which she wisely uses a generous sampling of her own superb drawings. The writing is straightforward and very easy to follow. There may be/are other books available that are more favored by artists who have used them for years, but few others offer so complete an inside look at the concept of reconstructing the body. The true beauty of this book is in the design and the elegant color photographs by John Davis, thankfully not ignoring the genitalia as in so many other art books. The models are beautifully incorporated into the text. Other design elements that make this and Art Book include the overlay drawings and the fine reproduction of the master paintings. Highly recommended for the student of art and anatomy at every level of study, but also for the art collectors who wish to enrich their knowledge of this long and continuing tradition of drawing and painting the human figure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2003


    You must flip through this book yourself in order to truel appreciate it. It has transparent 'body schematics' and full color photos that abound the pages of this nicely done book. Beautiful models, useful angles and shots. This is a fine, fine tool for the aspiring artist! Says me. An aspiring artist. :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2001

    The best anatomy book I've seen

    I picked up this title on a trip to my local B&N, and was so thrilled by the images in it I bought the book. Now after looking at it for a few days, it just gets better and better. The photos are incredible, and have just the right lighting to practice from (although drawing from life is still best). The knowledge of anatomy is breathtaking and the history of anatomy drawing she gives is quite intriguing. I have already recommended this book to some of my friends. And if I ever end up teaching anatomy and life-drawing, this will be the text book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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