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Drawing the Living Figure Paperback – May 1 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (May 1 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486267237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486267234
  • Product Dimensions: 28.4 x 21.2 x 1.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 422 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #251,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From the Back Cover

"Joseph Sheppard has been favorably compared to practically every Renaissance master…he is without peer among modern realists for his ability to impart a warm verisimilitude to the figure."—Artspeak magazine.
In this highly praised guidebook, Joseph Sheppard, a versatile and influential artist and teacher who is widely recognized as a master of figure drawing, introduces an innovative approach to drawing the human form. Beginning by reviewing the basics of anatomy, he makes his principal focus the specifics of surface anatomy.
Rather than depicting in detail the muscles and bone that lie beneath the skin, as do most books on artistic anatomy, this book concentrates on how the position and movement of muscles and bones affect the surface forms of live models. The effects are masterfully demonstrated in over 170 of Joseph Sheppard's own drawings of many different live models in front, back, and side views, and in various standing, sitting, kneeling, crouching, reclining, and twisting poses.
Each drawing is accompanied by two diagrams, one for bones, one for muscles, which specifically show how surface forms are created by the definitive shapes beneath the skin. The superb quality of Joseph Sheppard's drawings, the wide range of poses he illustrates, and the effectiveness of his approach in this book—now in its first paperback edition—will help artists at all levels improve and refine their skills in drawing the living figure.
Dover (1991) unabridged republication of the edition published by Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1984.


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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Parka HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Oct. 9 2009
Format: Paperback
Length: 0:21 Mins
"Joseph Sheppard has been favorably compared to practically every Renaissance master... he is without peer among modern realists for his ability to impart warm verisimilitude to the figure" -- Artspeak Magazine

That's the quote on the back cover. I've my doubts on that comparison but after looking at the figure drawings, yes, it seems the praise is well deserved.

Drawing the Living Figure uses life drawings from models to teach human anatomy. Joseph Sheppard has included 70 drawings of models in different poses, from standing to reclining. Most are accompanied by two diagrams, one for bones and other for muscles, showing how they affect surface form. These drawings are carefully annotated and selective parts are highlighted.

I prefer this book a bit more than Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters, which has a similar teaching style. The difference is here it doesn't include rough sketches, each piece is a refined completed figure drawing. The drawings are detailed, clear and beautiful.

No prior knowledge of anatomy is required to enjoy this book. It's great for beginner to advanced artists as an alternative reference.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carlo R. Montoya on March 18 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the book I should have bought when I spent some initially for "Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life" This is perfect for beginning artists like me who aren't overly concerned with the finer details of human anatomy but rather with surface anatomy. The textual content is in plain English unlike Bridgman's "older" English.
However, this book does have one blemish: some of the letter markers are difficult to see against heavily shaded body parts (because the letters should have been white instead of black in these areas). But after reading a few pages, you'll be able to determine where the letter should be (sometimes they are missing too or perfectly blended in) or where the indicated body part is.
I still rate it 5 though because it proved extremely useful to me personally.
I also bought "How to Draw Manga: Bodies & Anatomy: Human Body Drawings for Creating Characters" which is a visual reference rather than a "why" book. The drawings are clearer (devoid of light and shade) and should also appeal to those who only want to draw "cartoon" like human characters (i.e. manga, GI Joe, He-Man, Thundercats).
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By A Customer on May 21 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a treasure of a book with over 60 beautifully drawn poses of female and male nudes in many positions. He dicusses the anatomy of the body as it relates to each drawing. I especially like it because I am interested in three colored chalk drawings like Watteau and Boucher did. These drawings work very well for this medium or pencil. I highly recommend it and I would pay much more for a book of this quality.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has some good detailed artwork in it, but its instruction isn't as detailed as hoped. Its not sitting somewhere on my bookshelf forgotten. Suggest a better alternative would be Jack Hamm's "Drawing The Head and Figure", around the same price, very detailed yet simple to read through.
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