Artistic Anatomy Lecture: Front Torso Muscles

Art Prof Clara Lieu explains the most important muscles on the front torso of the human figure for artists. Muscles covered include the serratus anterior, rectus abdominis, external oblique, deltoid, pectoralis major, and trapezius. 

Prof Lieu explains how these muscles interact with the bony landmarks and how they overlap on top of each other.

Anatomy Resources

Video Walkthrough

  • There are many muscles that you’ll never see; they are layered underneath other muscles.
  • The only muscles artists need to learn are ones that are visible.
  • Search for where the muscles overlap each other.
  • Think about muscles in terms of sculpture.
  • Muscles are not limited to front and back, many wrap around the figure.
  • Most muscles are visible from many view points of the figure.
  • Note the direction of the muscle fibers, follow them when drawing.
  • Look for where muscles are attached to bones.
  • The Pectoralis Major attaches to the Sternum and the Clavicles.
  • The Sternum is the “neck tie bone.”
  • Male & female genitalia are always below the Symphisis Pubis.
  • The External Oblique “weaves” into the Serratus Anterior.
  • Look for where the Deltoid connects to the Acromion Process.

Anatomy Resources Page gif

Muscles mentioned

  • Serratus Anterior
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • External Oblique
  • Deltoid
  • Pectoralis Major
  • Trapezius
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • External Oblique

Bones mentioned

  • Sternum
  • Clavicles
  • Acromion Process
  • Anterior Superior Iliac Spine
  • Symphisis Pubis
  • Sternum

Artists mentioned

  • Camille Claudel

Films mentioned

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