Human Anatomy for Illustration

Hello all,

I have been contemplating posting my project sometime here and finally decided I should. I have been working on this project for awhile and I would like feedback on it from the community. None of the areas are complete to the level of detail I want but it is a start, and I wanted to post some work along the way so I can show the process from this point forward. For all of you that have done the skeleton before and put the time in to make it accurate I commend you. I have seen some amazing skeletal work from the artists here.

This has to be one of my most interesting and challenging projects due to all the hidden areas and digging for reference. I work in orthopedics and get to see x-rays on a daily basis, so creating a skeleton for me was a natural thought. I have always enjoyed studying anatomy and I have been in the medical field for some time now, so I want to put that knowledge together for medical illustration purposes. I am fortunate enough to of had Doctors give me several projects that will be published in 2015. This work will be done to help me for future illustrations. I am also very appreciative to have them available for review of my anatomical work, but they are not ZBrush artists, :wink: and oddly enough even some Dr’s say they are not that great at the anatomy, sounds funny right, so I go to the specialists for each area for review.

I welcome your comments and any references for aid in this project. I am detail oriented and want this to be as accurate as possible.

My plan is to complete the skeleton, then the muscles and organs and after that see what’s next. The thought of creating veins is a bit daunting now so maybe when I get to that stage I’ll have a better idea how to handle that process…and maybe something in ZBrush 4R7 will help since I know it will be out way before I am at that stage.

If there are any questions along the way please ask I love any opportunity to help others pass through an area I may have knowledge about.

Btw, this has been done entirely in ZBrush up to this point, to help me become more proficient with the tools in ZBrush.


Skeleton v31-3.jpg

good work so far :slight_smile:
I made a quick overpaint (mostly on the skull)
hope it helps



Thank you for that. One question I am not a big build but my chest comes almost even with my chin from a profile view.
I feel the ribs may be out too far anterior do you agree?

yeah you’re right, could be too much^^

I worked on the changes suggested and also spent some time matching up a model I did in Zbrush awhile back. I know the male model is not that great compared to some, but having it there helps me fit the skeleton into something. This will be a WIP for a good amount of time but feel free to comment and thank you.

Here are some updates. I finally got some time to work on the project. :smiley:
C&C are welcome. I hope everyone has a Happy New Year.
Although it shouldn’t be too hard, since Zbrush will be coming in with their awesome update.

The spine of the scapula is more oblique than this I think, also the acromion should be slightly pushed back, unless i’m fooled by the perspective of the view.
Also I think, even if this appear to be a man, that the curvature of the lower back including the sacrum, is a tad too straight. hope it help.

Great stuff by the way.

Thank you. I agree. Sometimes you need to step back and look closer :). Thank you.


Spent some more time on him. I adjusted some where comments were made. Still see many areas that need more detail. After the hands are completed I will go back over it all to add more detail (like the legs which are painfully plain and missing landmarks at this time). I’d have to say this has been one of the most challenging personal projects due to the abnormalities and inconsistencies in the human form. Its difficult at times to know which reference to follow and then when it doesn’t look right spending more time sculpting to correct to the new reference. I have modeled a ton of stuff but they have been pretty straightforward. You can make a car look exactly like a car or a house like a house and you can be spot on, but with anatomy (specifically bones for this thread) there are so many differences, and different opinions even from the Doctors I work with, as well as getting great full photo reference (from the same real skeleton connected) and angles is hard to come by.

Thank you for your time. As always, I am growing and appreciate the comments or critiques especially since I no longer have the opportunity to work with other artists, which I truly miss.

Hey! Great stuff! I know exactly what you mean about the difficulty in getting your head around on how things are really “supposed to be”. From studying countless references of different types from internet I’d say that the lumbar lordosis looks fine to me, it all depends on the postural condition of the specimen you are “creating”. Of course there is an ideal curvature of the spine but its also individual for each and one of us depends on multiple factors. I have weak and stiff back due to too much physical inactivity and my lumbar looks like this:
Not ideal, but that is the case with a lot of backs out there :wink:
The beauty of life and our universe its the constant variety of things. And so it is with anatomy as well. There isn’t really a certain “right”. I’ve started with the muscles recently and the issue just continues there. You look at one picture and description in a Sobotta book and the attachments looks one way and then it might be saying something else in the text regarding it on the opposite page. Then you check another book/wikipedia/website/VisibleBody/Arcland’s Anatomy Atlas etc. and they all say something slightly different from one another. And its simply because there isn’t a certain “normal”, whats normal is variety and every specimens uniqueness. Sternalis is often not shown in anatomy illustrations, but I’m almost certain I have a poorly developed one my left peck :slight_smile: Same with the malaris muscle, rarely demonstrated in illustrations, and is uncommon in Caucasians but in this study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21415632 it was found in +50% of the dissected (Korean) specimens. So I would recommend to always look at as many references as possible. I’ve found Arcland’s Atlas of Human Anatomy to be invaluable, then Sobotta and pictures of skeletons online, if I had access to Netter I would add that one, then of course top that with the irl expert opinion you have available and then you’ll have a good idea of common variations in form, structure and attachments of each part.

Looking forward to see more of this project! Keep it up! =)

Thank you so much for the comment and reference locations to check. I have the medical university of Florida close by and they have been generous enough to let me come and take photos so that has helped some and for others that do skeletal sculpts
they might not think of asking a university to allow them to take photos for reference. I’d suggest to try and ask if you need some reference that you want to be able to see around and get the shots you want. For me it helped to wrap my head
around some shapes. It’s amazing how much you miss/forget about even a subject you have studied for years such as anatomy and once you go to sculpt it you realize how much you missed or just plain don’t know. I look forward to seeing your process too.
I am really happy I am this far into the project I have wanted to do the skeleton for several years but took on other projects first so I will be celebrating when it is done.

Hey, I was also thinking about contacting the medical university in Stockholm to see if I could do the same thing, but haven’t come to do it yet. The great thing with Arcland’s Atlas is that he rotates the bones so you can always pause and that way get a view of most angles, and also the use of “fresh” cadavers instead of usual beige ones you find mostly online or on youtube. I have bookmarked tons of websites with references but thought maybe these could be handy unless you’ve already seen them :slight_smile:

These are in Russian but works well with translate page if you use chrome.

This one might not be new to you or it’s content, I found it useful though.

Here’s a nice little read on skeletal variation among humans.

This guy posts now and then good videos about the bones.

Vertebral Column.

Human skeleton.

More bones…

Nice image of sphenoid.

Dissection and plastination.

This page has tons of great illustrations in good resolution when you click on each image.

Be sure to check out this thread unless you already have :slight_smile:

And finally…

Looking forward to your next update! :slight_smile:

I love it. Thank you so much for all the reference. That is awesome.
Maybe it will keep me from buying another book.
I have had to sit through several cadaver dissection videos
in hopes to learn more about insertion point location and how the
muscles lay over each other.
While the videos have been truly informative I can honestly say I prefer blood and seeing fresh skin tissue
vs. seeing cadaver tan brown flesh any day of the week.
I will put more time on the project this week.

I just check out the links and you have helped a ton with reference there is some awesome stuff in there. One thing that stood out as disturbing was the classical music they played while doing plastination http://www.anatomyumftm.com/#!__p-videos caught me off guard a bit.

I finally have all the bones in except some of the sesamoid bones and the hyoid bone. I am sooo happy to have gotten this far.
I still have a lot of detail sculpting to add but I am happy with the progress. I plan to separate the skull as well, its a bit daunting after seeing
the details involved in it after being done and separated by another Zbrusher. Comments and critiques are welcome.

I commend you for tackling this project! :slight_smile:

Trying to sculpt my first “from scratch” character now, and of course, I don’t know much about anatomy.

Doing the skeleton, and covering it with muscles, would be a great way to learn how to sculpt what’s under the skin.

Your skeleton is looking mighty fine!

It’s a good job overall but i feel like the leg are a bit short, you might want to double check their proportion

jan19: Thank you. Sadly I started the project about this time last year, which is another reason I am glad I am at this stage, but there is still a long road to go.
I might break away and do a cartoon style character so I can see something else on my desktop,:smiley: and then start on the muscles.

tigerheart: Thank you for the comment. Ill check it out, it does seem a bit short to me as well now that you mentioned it.

Once again I want to say I have a lot of respect for the others that have taken on this skeletal project before me. When it comes to the muscles I know I am
probably going to think back and say that doing the skeleton was easier. I can say that even though I have experience in the medical field doing this project has really helped
out with names and landmarks that I did not know before.

Here is the latest. I also did a pose cause I got tired of looking at the same boring T-ish pose. Zbrush crashed just as I was saving the image. I am thinking its because my model is so dense at its highest levels (cant wait to see how Z64 handles the model, tired of crashes, expecially while I am saving the model).
I did however figure out a nice trick. Once I had the Zbrush is not responding do you want to wait message. I waited about 15 minutes (which was not easy to do) and I still had the error. Since I only did the pose for fun but didn’t want to lose the image (or time spent),
I took a screenshot of it cropped it in PS and fixed the contrast/brightness levels. Its not as good as the full res version but at least I got what I was looking for which was just a different posed image to add some personality in the art.

for fun 2.jpg

Hi Daniel,

Great work so far, I’ve built a skeleton and muscle system in Zbrush before myself so I know the sheer task at hand, you’ve been making some really good progress so far so I can’t wait to see the final result. I think the proportions now look much better, for me the diagrams from Paul Richer’s Artistic Anatomy helped me a lot. I think the biggest thing that would need to be changed is actually the skull, the shape of the skulls eye sockets look a little too big, and I think that the side of the skull could have much more roughness too it. Back in my old work we we’re able to order in a real skull and it’s actual texture is really quite rough. I would also round out the patellas a little bit more, as their quite round in real life. Maybe get some nice cracks on the skull aswell. The final thing I would say is that the gaps between the vertebrae could be a little narrower.
Ultimately though I really like the direction it’s going in, clearly you’ve done a lot of research and I don’t think it needs any major changes, just some small tweaks here and there. Great job.


I’ve also attached some images from Thyme, it’s a reference I used quite a lot and can give a good idea of the texture of the skull.

Callister: Thank you for the comments and critiques. I will definitely check out your resource reference. As for the skull I have plans to split it into sections so the sutures will be there once that is done since it will be separate geometry.
I had reference images that matched the eye sockets, but by the time I am done sculpting and splitting it I am sure it will have a different shape. I do see what you mean about them looking too big from your reference image though.
I also plan to work on the teeth and make them more accurate including the roots in case I do a cutaway or have a glass skull for an illustration in the future. Thank you for the reference image again. I have access to the medical university right next to my hospital,
the cool thing is that they offered me the chance to take photos of subjects/cadavers since they work closely with the hospital I work at. Maybe when I get the chance I can get some good reference there for skulls. If you see anything else just let me know.