Drawing Roundup: Anatomy Reference

While attending art college, I had the pleasure (or pain, depending on how hungover I was) of taking a 4-hour life drawing class twice a week for three years. As a student I didn’t always look forward to the opportunity to have a model in front of me, but boy do I miss it now. Now many years out of school, I look forward to attending local life drawing events,but such access isn’t always available. So, to the interwebs I go!

In running E3C portfolio and critiquing events, one of the most common feedback I overhear being given to student and beginner artists is the need for more life drawing and anatomy practice. Below you’ll find some of my favourite sources to help you along the journey of visually describing the human form, no matter how late you were up the night before!


Drawing For Suckas

Ah tumblr. Infinite scrolling of images, gifs and often excellent drawing reference. One you should certainly follow is Drawing For Suckas, a collection of reference, tips and samples around Tunblr by E3C member  Josh Rodgers. An animator and illustrator by trade, Josh particularly keeps a lookout for great anatomy and line of action tips. You’ll also find videos of some of the greats in action such as the late Jack Kirby.



Need to get better at anatomy but can’t seem to get out to a life drawing event? Posemaniacs is my go-to site to do gesture warm ups before I start any larger sketch or project (as featured on this post). With over 1,000 poses of muscle models that can be rotated 180°, you really can’t go wrong. The body types are limited to slender female, slender male, very beefy male (known as ‘freak’ on the site) and non-gender specific child, but their range of pose and camera angles make up for it. I like to start out with the 30 second drawing section of the site that generates a random pose for you to get your gestures down. It’s also available as an app on the Apple Store (no love for Android users as of yet).

If you’re looking for 360° of rotation, they have a beta project out that has select body parts for you to twirl around to your heart’s content.


AlienThink Pose Tool App

I’m a penny pincher when it comes to buying apps, but I couldn’t have been more happy to drop $7 on AlienThink’s Pose Tool App, available for all major devices. Always trying to better my sense of anatomy, I like to use this app when I have a pose in mind but need to look at certain details like the twist of an arm or where shadows fall.

The male and female forms come in three body types, and you can even articulate each finger. The features are too numerous to list here, but one extremely helpful item is the ability to control up to 3 spots of lighting. There is a slight learning curve to setting up the figure, but within 5 minutes I ready to work with my pocket-sized model.


Art Models Tumblr

For something more artistic, look no further than Art Models on Tumblr. Here you can find a selection of Pose Space‘s wonderfully captured poses for free. Dynamic lighting, use of props, two person vignettes – their collection is vast and varied. They even post artist pieces inspired by their excellent reference material and are keen to interact with their audience.


In closing, I want to remind you that nothing quite compares to reference material like the real thing. Life drawing is an excellent way to speed up your anatomy drawing skills, and it’s only a bus ride away every Wednesday night at Plan B (check our calendar to see when the next one is). Also, remember to take a moment to thank your references with reblogs, crediting and other acts of internet kindness.



Proud horror film geek and lover of every flavour of chips, Alison is a designer and illustrator working in Halifax. As head of the E3C steering committee, Alison is all about gathering creatives together and pushing people to do the most with their creative talent.

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