Artistic Anatomy Lecture: Centerline

This video explains the structure of the spine in the torso, focusing on the “centerline” of the human figure.

The centerline is visible on the back and the front of the figure on the torso, and is an effective reference to search for when beginning a gesture drawing of a human figure.

The centerline can be seen on a broad range of figures and relates to the major masses of the figure. Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

Figure Drawing: Torsos

Video Walkthrough

  • The centerline is one of the first landmarks to look for when drawing a figure, it represents the essential gesture of the figure.
  • The centerline is on the front and the back of the figure.
  • The centerline on the back is literally the spine.
  • The centerline on the front is on the surface of the torso, it is not inside the figure.
  • There is a natural curvature in the centerline to emphasize.
  • The centerline sums up the essential character of the figure’s movement.
  • The sternum is the “neck tie” bone.
  • The sternum is a significant part of the centerline on the front.
  • The sternum curves forward, the same way that the rib cage tilts.
  • Know what a bone looks like from multiple points of view.
  • Anatomical terminology isn’t important to memorize, as long as you can identify the landmarks.
  • Look for the manubrium, the top part of the sternum.
  • The pit of the neck is in between the clavicles. (collar bones)
  • The front of the centerline is the pit of the neck, sternum, and the belly button.
  • The spine looks straight from the front and the back, but from the side it’s very curved.
Figure Drawing: Torsos
Anatomy Resources Page gif

Anatomical Landmarks mentioned

  • Rib cage
  • Belly button
  • Pit of the neck

Bones mentioned

  • Sternum
  • Manubrium (top part of the sternum)
  • Spine
  • Scapula

Films mentioned

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