Giving Your Right Brain a Regular Workout

Drawing Lessons, Human Anatomy and Renaissance Art

Many forms of creative expression can’t be broken down into bite sized chunks but Renaissance artists gave us many mathematical and scientific principles that we can use to help us do a better job of drawing the human form. We learnt many things from Renaissance artists that are still relevant today, from facial proportions and muscular and skeletal structure to shading techniques like crosshatching and chiaroscuro, so there’s much to be learned from delving into the history of Renaissance art.


Studies by Leonardo Da Vinci

Many Renaissance artists were also trained physicians and it was a time when the lines between art and science were often blurred. The most famous examples of the Renaissance study of the human form are Leonardo Da Vinci’s anatomical studies, but if you’re interested in finding out more about the history of anatomy and art, it’s also worth looking at the work of Andreas Vesalius. Vesalius also dissected human bodies (in a time when it was illegal) in order to find out more about human anatomy. He produced incredibly detailed drawings which were used to teach anatomy.


Studies by Andreas Vesalius

Practice: The following tutorials have their origins in the principles that were discovered and practiced by artists during the Renaissance. If you’re interested in exploring rules that can be applied to improve your portraits and drawings of the human form, here are a few tutorials to get you started.

  1. Drawing hands and feet
  2. Tips for drawing hands
  3. How to draw a realistic eye
  4. Nose Drawing – Easier than it Looks
  5. Drawing Faces (Video) – Great info on proportions


Studies by Leonardo Da Vinci

Theory and Further Reading: If you’d like to do more reading on this subject, here are a few articles to kick start your investigations. If the subject intrigues you, a Google search will reveal even more.

  1. An Introduction to the Basics of Renaissance Art
  2. The Art of Renaissance Science
  3. The fine art of anatomy
  4. Anatomy in the Renaissance


Studies by Leonardo Da Vinci

If you know of any more resources or lessons related to Renaissance art and the study of the human form, please feel free to share them in the comments. If this is something you’ve studied and you have an in-depth knowledge of the topic, we’d also love to hear from you.

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