on November 14, 2001
This is an interesting book in that the photography is excellent. Do you like nude bodies that are in very good shape? This one has it in excess. As one who has studied artistic anatomy for over twenty years I own just about every book written on the subject. One of the things I appreciate are sources showing surface anatomy; with models that have muscle definition. The odd thing about this book is how much could have been done with it. There are about 7 or 8 transparencys that over lay the photos. All but one of these show the skeletal detail over a photo. When I am looking at the surface anatomy of a figure and trying to determine which muscles are which, I would rather have an overlay of the muscles than of the skeleton. This must have been the decision of an editor. The drawings depicting the muscles are good, no better than what has been done. Goldfinger's Human Anatomy for Artists or Richer's Artistic Anatomy are very hard to beat. The other odd note about this book is the bibliography. It's as though the items chosen were selected for their quirky nature and not their value as a source of information. Five stars for the photography, negative two stars for the anatomical content.
on October 27, 2002
this is really a coffee table anatomy book, as it is centered on john davis's spectacular color photographs of physically pleasing young models, artsy anatomical illustrations of bones and muscle groups, a gallery of studio poses, and kewl design touches. (the translucent muscle diagrams are especially neat: they fold over matching full color photographs of head, limbs and torso, though the book bindery doesn't always line up the two exactly.) a bonus is the unique and interesting introductory history of anatomical studies. the coverage is broad stroke -- focusing on large muscle groups, or anatomical units such as the hand, not on individual bones or muscles. my disappointments include the appallingly skimpy treatment of facial emotions, the breezy anatomical descriptions (one gets a poor idea of individual muscle form and action), the narrow sampling of model physical types (all are gorgeous), and the fatuous gallery of simblet sketches, who likes to draw bodies piled on top of each other. for practical work, i much prefer eliot goldfinger's masterful "encyclopedia" of human anatomy for the artist, but simblet's book is easier to use as a quick or general reference and also makes a provocative browse for your dinner guests. best is to own both, and go to goldfinger if your question requires authoritative, in depth information.
on November 5, 2006
I have one other excellent anatomy book besides this one--Human Anatomy for Artists by Eliot Goldfinger. Both books have thorough explanations of skeletal and muscular systems as well as illustrations in both sketch and photograph form for each body section. Which book would be most helpful to you is probably more a matter of individual learning style. Here are the major differences between the two books:
The best feature of Anatomy for the Arist is its exquisite photography. The photos are large with very fine resolution (both color and black-and-white). Some are full-page and many show the entire body. There are about an equal number of male and female models, all athletically built, with a variety of skin tones. The poses are varied, expressive, and graceful. If you want a wealth of detailed photos, not sketches, to practice from, get this book.
Human Anatomy for Artists, on the other hand, is much more user-friendly if you want to memorize every last bone and muscle from the Procerus to the Medial malleolus. One great thing this book has that others don't: For each body segment, the underlying skeletal and muscle structures are shown, all labeled with the names of the parts, along with a photograph of the segment ON THE SAME PAGE. This makes it very easy to see where everything lies and how much or how little it shapes the skin without having to flip from page to page to compare diagrams with photos.
In addition to skeletal and muscle systems, Human Anatomy for Artists also addresses fat pads and where they grow on men versus women, and also includes diagrams of the major veins.
Main drawbacks: Although this book has many photographs, they are all small, black-and-white, a little bit grainy, and are almost all of men. There are only a few small full-body photographs (standing position from different angles). Informative, but not very inspiring.
So, in short, both books are equally good, but if you learn best by practice and by seeing how all the structures relate to each other in the overall form, get Anatomy for the Artist. If you want an in-depth but accesible, step-by-step approach, get Human Anatomy for Artists.
on January 5, 2012
First the good things:
The models in the book are very fit, and the pictures are arranged in a very aesthetically pleasing manner. The overlay pages do a decent job showing you how the underlying skeletal/muscle structure affect the surface shape. Every part of the body is covered in this book with equal attention. The illustrations are detailed and quite comprehensive. If you need high quality images of models in moderately interesting poses, this should be adequate. I find that the pictures are useful as supplementary material to more rigorous books, such as Goldfinger's famous Human Anatomy for Artists.
Now the bad:
Although the coverage of content is broad, it really isn't deep enough for serious study or reference. While the illustrations are very detailed when provided, the author omits many views from important angles. You'll get a very detailed side view without a front or back, or you'll get various tilted views sans any orthographic angles. In a similar fashion, many of the photos are cropped to show only the part of the body being explained. There's nothing wrong with this, but there are very few full-body images in neutral standing poses. Added to the fact that angle coverage is also arbitrary, this makes it somewhat difficult to get a grasp of the body's 3d shape in general.
In conclusion, the good things about this book could have helped so much more if the negative points had been treated properly. Given how detailed the muscle and skeleton illustrations were, views from all angles would have made this an excellent reference for internal anatomy. Also, most of the models that you find in online image stores (or other anatomy books, for that matter) are not nearly as fit or well-proportioned as the models from this book. The pictures you get are very good, but trading some of the more "artistic" poses for neutral positions from multiple angles would make the book much more useful.
Overall, this book is not a bad deal for the price, but I would not rely on it as reference or study material. If you are an artist and really want to get a better understanding of human anatomy, start with a more thorough treatment of the subject: i.e. books by Eliot Goldfinger or Stephen Rogers Peck. If you want to develop figure drawing skills and care less about learning the exact details of skeletons and muscles, I'd recommend the books by Andrew Loomis and Gottfried Bammes(his German books, not the English ones!).
on October 19, 2001
I'm an art student taking a life drawing class, and I have looked at a number of books on anatomy and own several, most of which I find unequal to my needs. Some are geared to people in health-related fields, and some are geared to artists.
Of all the books I have seen on artistic anatomy, this is one of the absolute best. The translucent paper overlays of anatomical structures are very helpful to an artist trying to figure out how bones, muscles, and skin all fit together. Additionally, the photography is amazing, modern, and not at all cheesey. There are many different motion shots and poses depicted, and the drawing lessons and "master classes" are truly useful to any developing artist and should help people refine their skills and gain confidence in this difficult area of drawing. My only quibble: I could have done with fewer explicit shots of genitalia, but they were necessary to a book that covers its topic as completely as this one.
The bottom line is that this book is worth its weight in conté crayons.
Sarah Simblet is not only a fine artist in her own right and a solid teacher at both the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University and at the Royal College of Art in London, she is also a fine writer for both art students and art lovers.
In this exceedingly well-conceptualized and executed book Simblet draws upon photography of live models (by John Davis), pen and ink drawings on transparent paper through which the photographed nudes can be seen, anatomical specimens (where plastic has been injected into donated cadavers then treated with acid corrosion so that only the plastic in the veins and arteries remains), skeletons, and working sketches from the model as well as examples from the master painters to provide more visual information about her subject than anyone to date.
After a brief but elegant history of figure drawing, the book is separated into sections by body parts and systems (Structure of the human body, head with bones and muscles, spine, torso, shoulder and arm, forearm and hand, hip and thigh, leg and foot) with each of these section she composes a Master Class based on the works of great painters (Ingres, Bacon, David, Ribera, Hopper, Holbein, Manet, Michelangelo, Raphael) matched with models posed in those famous poses for deconstructive examination of how each painter worked.
She then turns her book into a course on drawing these various body parts, a section in which she wisely uses a generous sampling of her own superb drawings. The writing is straightforward and very easy to follow. There may be/are other books available that are more favored by artists who have used them for years, but few others offer so complete an inside look at the concept of reconstructing the body.
The true beauty of this book is in the design and the elegant color photographs by John Davis, thankfully not ignoring the genitalia as in so many other art books. The models are beautifully incorporated into the text. Other design elements that make this and Art Book include the overlay drawings and the fine reproduction of the master paintings. Highly recommended for the student of art and anatomy at every level of study, but also for the art collectors who wish to enrich their knowledge of this long and continuing tradition of drawing and painting the human figure. Grady Harp, April 05
on May 11, 2002
DK publishing puts out some pretty awsome picture books, the photography is always crisp and detailed, so as soon as this book was released I plucked it up. I agree with some of the other reviewers, having more muscle onion skin overlays as opposed to mostly skelital, would have made this an even better book. Also having the variations in the human body shown, perhaps in it's own chapter (age, race, weight, etc.) would have made this book a perfect 5 star effort. Inspite of these things, this is a great book, and I would recommended it to students as a good text book for foundation art classes.
on September 12, 2005
I have not read this book in its entirety but, I feel that it gives you few examples for simplifying the human form.
What I did like where the correlations to human anatomy's history in the beginning. Also, all of the photos are excellent, showing different ethnicities, solid muscle structure, and interesting poses. The book even shows real model poses mirroring Masterwork paintings, which is a nice plus.
The bone transparencies/overlays embedded in the book are informative, but I wish there were muscles as well as bone. I'm still learning the figure (slightly more than a novice) and this book, so far, has helped me to understand the figure. This book is more than great for any beginner.
on February 24, 2011
This book has some great photography, but there is just too little to be of much use. I wish the book had a more thorough coverage of the muscles, rather than a few large contorted poses. The large images are really only useful for a few studies. Several pages are completely worthless to me, depicting historical illustrations which are anatomically incorrect and a section on the nervous system. The book looks nice but has too little useful content. So far my favorite artist anatomy book is "Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist" by Steven Rogers Peck.
on July 27, 2014
This is a phenomenal book. I have many art anatomy books but this one is a genuine stand-out for its photos and incredibly beautiful drawings. About half of the book has overlays of transparent paper with muscles and bones over photographs so one can see how the anatomy fits, but I do wish that there were overlays of all the different poses rather than just the basic side, front and back drawings There is a great multi-racial collection of photos of both sexes, at the end and throughout. This volume's drawings are so beautiful that I have been left envious of the talents that put them together. Beautiful, beautiful, by any stretch of the imagination, this book is outstanding. One might want to purchase, "Visualizing Muscles," which has the muscles actually painted on the model (male) so that one can see how they move in space, as a companion book to this one. If you like anatomy and beautiful drawings of it, I highly recommend this book