How to Study Anatomy In Sculpture

horse anatomy sculpture Sep 28, 2020


  • How we use Bony Landmarks to identify skeletal features

  • Studying the Full Skeleton and how this helps understand the living horse
  • Nature's One Pattern and how this helps understand skeletal structures

  • How we study the many layers of muscles and their movement. 

  • How to put it all into practice



Click the link to join the Sculpture Tutorial Classroom to begin learning these and many more foundational skills. 


Get access to my Free Drawing Anatomy for Sculpture Course by clicking here




















There are five ways we can study anatomy in sculpture. The first is the bony landmarks. These are palpable skeletal features some of which you're probably familiar with. Others perhaps not so familiar. There are many throughout the body. And these are for example the transverse processes of the cervical vertebra the spine of the scapula the tuber sacral and the tuber coax just some for example. It's important to have an understanding of all the bony landmarks within the body because it provides us with an understanding of a healthy skeleton. It also gives us landmarks to work with when we are proportioning out a sculpture. The bone length shape and number assist us in understanding muscle function and where those muscles might lie the ability to understand these landmarks also gives us an insight into what lies beneath the surface. So sort of an x-ray vision. With this understanding, we can pinpoint some discomforts or even lameness that might be occurring within an animal. 

Once we've studied the bony landmarks we then move on to studying the full skeleton. This gives us the ability to identify patterns within the body so different bones and how those bones fit together and also the patterns between species. For instance vertebrates. How all vertebrates have a similar skeleton and vertebrates compared to birds and how those skeletons compare. Nature has one pattern and that gives us a really great guide to sculpting and understanding these different creatures.

It also helps us with understanding the arrangement of the bones and how those bones work in unison. We can locate joints and understand how those joints articulate. So this is vital for many reasons and for many different types of people. Whether you're a veterinarian a horse owner or just a rider having this knowledge is very helpful to understand the information we might want to gather from our horses. It helps us also with understanding the shapes of muscles where muscles insert and how those muscles move. Bones versus muscles; bones don't move. They don't contract or extend they stay the same, muscles have movement they extend and change shape based on the movement that is occurring. So knowing the shape and length of the bones is going to help visualize how those muscles might layer over those bones and how they might interact with the skeleton. 

Once you've studied the palpable landmarks of the body and the skeleton in full, it's highly recommended that you study the deep muscles. Now, these are skeletal muscles that are responsible for posture. They support the skeleton for movement, maintain joint stability and control range of motion. They protect the skeleton and the internal organs as well as assist in thermoregulation.

It's important to have knowledge of these muscles because it helps us in sculpting accurate and well-formed muscle in the body. As we layer on muscle and build the sculpture out, we're bulking the sculpture out. It provides us with accuracy to the end. So this is vital information for the sculptor. For the horseman, it also helps us have an understanding of how bones and muscles articulate together. It provides us a guide for understanding the next layer of deep muscles.

Once we study the different layers of the deep muscles we arrive at the superficial muscles. These are the most superficial which we can see externally. They're easy to palpate and they're easy to identify. These muscles provide bulk to the sculptor. They also give us the ability to identify different individuals because they have specific features based on the lifestyle of the creature whether it's a sport animal and how that animal is being utilized and exercised. So the development process of these muscles can be easily identified.

These muscles insert into the facia as well as into bone. They are very powerful muscles some of the biggest muscles within the body and they offer support in vital areas of the body as well. 

Ultimately we must study all of these as one unit. So in movement and in life. Without the study of life, we cannot fully understand the creature we are looking at, particularly an animal since it does not have verbal communication to explain to us what it might be feeling or experiencing.

We must sharpen our vision to understand how these things come together in motion and how they affect the animal on a daily basis. 

Some ways that are very helpful when we're doing an observation study is sitting quietly and watching these animals from life. Watching and noting how muscles interact and how bone might be affecting and helping those muscles move in different gates.

Understanding these things in movement is ultimately what we must seek because it is what provides us the ability to make better decisions for our animals and also provide us with the ability to breathe life into our sculptures.

Some ways that you can go about studying these different parts of the anatomy would be through observation. So just observing with these anatomical structures in mind you observe a living creature either from life itself or from a video. Of course, drawing is always a very helpful skill to have to sharpen one's vision and the understanding of the anatomical structures. Ultimately the best way is to bring all of this together and sculpt it out of clay. I say that because sculpting something really requires us to fully understand it from every angle. If we have an understanding of it from every angle then we can confirm that we have a full understanding of the object created in this case anatomy.


Get your free ticket to the upcoming fair by clicking this link.


50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.