Draw a skeleton inside a figure in order to see where bony landmarks and muscles align. Remember that this prompt is not about accuracy, and it’s not about making a beautiful drawing. In fact, it’s pretty much guaranteed that your drawing is going to be pretty wonky in terms of being anatomically correct!
The objective of this prompt is to have the experience of identifying how anatomical landmarks connect to each other. Every time you see a connection, it’s a win!
Think of the final drawing as the “leftovers” of this exercise. The true objective is to begin to understand where anatomical landmarks connect so you can identify them more quickly.
related anatomy lectures
reference images, skull & skeleton
reference images, portrait & figure
- Pieter Hugo, Alfred Stieglitz, Dario Calmese, Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange, Edward S. Curtis, Herb Ritts, John Edmonds, Peter Lindbergh, Richard Avedon, Sebastião Salgado, Steve McCurry, Vivian Maier, Yousuf Karsh, Zanele Muholi, Robert Mapplethorpe, Walker Evans, Catherine Opie, Dorothy Norman, Irving Penn, George Platt Lynes, Guglielmo Plüschow, Edward Weston, Francesca Woodman, Franz Grainer, Imogen Cunningham, Laura Aguilar, Ruth Bernhard, Clifford Owens, Bruce Weber, D’Angelo Lovell Williams
Pencils tend to work better for this prompt since you’ll need to be able to draw details in the skeleton.
We recommend using 2 different colored drawing materials, 1 for the figure, and 1 for the skeleton helps to see them more distinctly as you draw.
Visit these pages for specific supply lists: colored pencil, conté crayon, graphite, soft pastel, oil pastel, pencil, charcoal. Explore a comprehensive list of all drawing supplies in Part 1 of our Drawing Curriculum.
Drawing a Skeleton Inside a Figure
A great exercise for learning anatomy as an artist is drawing a skeleton inside a figure drawing. By drawing the skeleton as you draw the human figure, you are able to see the connections between the figure and the various bony landmarks, providing a fundamental understanding of how the skeletal structure in a figure functions. Demo led by Art Prof Clara Lieu.
Draw a Skull Inside a Portrait
Drawing a skull inside a portrait is a terrific exercise to practice your anatomical understanding of a portrait. This video provides beginning to end, the entire process for building the skull structure into the portrait. Various techniques are explained, that can be used to build up three dimensional volume with colored pencil layering, blending, creating a diverse range of textures and marks, pencil grip, and more. Demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu.
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