|The neck can be thought of as a cylinder, a very strong
column rising from the sloping platform of
the shoulders, as you see in the illustration above.
Study the drawings. There are seven vertebrae in the neck, each capable of movement, like links in
a chain. This allows the head to turn and twist in every direction except 360 degrees to the back.
Notice that the neck isn't perfectly straight. It projects forward even when we are setting up very
The strength of the neck is at the back, where the trapezius muscles rise from well below the
shoulder blades, and extend out to the shoulders and up to the base of the skull, as shown in the
illustration. These trapezius muscles hold the head erect.
|The neck, at the back, begins at a point on a level with
the ear opening and the base of the nose.
From the front, the visible neck begins at the chin and extends this same distance downward to the
collarbone protrusions. Study the drawings above,
Descending from behind the ears to a pit at the base of the front of the neck are two slender muscles called "bonnet strings" or sternomastoid muscles. These pull the head forward and back and allow the head to turn from side to side. Between these muscles, at the front, you will see a man's larynx or Adams apple.
Notice that the neck can be stationary and still allow the head to nod forward and be thrown back, as shown here.
|Until a child is three or four months old, the neck is
too weak to support the head, which is proportionately very large for the
body. The neck in a new-born baby and up to age two is hardly visible as
such, but may be indicated by creases in rolls of fatty tissue. As the
child grows the neck becomes more perceptible and takes on a rather slender
When a boy of sixteen or seventeen becomes active in athletics, the neck thickens. As a portrait painter, you should watch for this, as the heavy, sturdier neck is a good way to indicate a young man growing out of boyhood. All professional athletes show great strength in the neck.
Michealangelo gave all his people sturdy necks, both men and women. There is something heroic about a very strong neck in a painted image.
|The upper half of the torso is the cone shaped rib cage
called the thorax. This "cage" is constructed of the twelve curved ribs
on either side which connect to the sternum in the front and the spine
in the back.
The upper back of the torso is relatively flat, for there is a flat shoulder blade, or Scapula, on either side of the spine partially covering the rib cage. The top edge of this scapula parallels the slope of the shoulder and is thicker at the outer corner where it forms the shoulder joint as a socket for the bone of the upper arm. As a person ages, the upper back becomes more rounded, less flat.
The torso is capable of twisting, bending from side to side, and bending forward and backward, but all this movement occurs only at the waist. The chest and the hips are relatively stationary.
|The lower part of the torso is the pelvis, which is made
up of the flat sacrum at the base of the spine and a hip bone on either
side. The pelvis functions as one stationary unit and no part is capable
of movement independently of the other two parts. The hip bones flare out
at right angles to each other; each has a ridge at the top called the iliac
crest which travels from the back to the front of the body. The lower front
corners of these bones meet at center front and form the pelvis, the lowest
point at the front of the torso. At the outer edge of each hip bone is
a socket fitted with
the ball end of the femur, a neck-like extension of the thigh bone.
|Stand up and raise your leg to the side, as if you were
getting on a bicycle, and feel with your hand
where the leg swings out. This spot, the hipline, is critically important to the artist. When drawing the full-length figure, this is where the body divides in half vertically - that is, the distance from the top of the head to the hipline is an equal measure to the distance from the hipline to the soles of the feet. Also, when the arm is hanging straight down at one's side, the line aligns with the inner wrist.
|An artist visualizes this complex machine which is our
body in terms of the most simple masses.
Thus, blocking in the torso is accomplished quite effectively by drawing the thoracic area as an egg, the pelvic area as a block, and connecting the two with the flexible spine.
(note; Remember, the torso is not really a flexible sausage. There can only be movement front to back, side to side, and twisting movement AT THE WAIST, the area between the rib cage and the pelvis.)
Just as the vertical centerline and the horizontal center, or eyeline, are of critical importance when blocking in the head, so the centerline of the torso, both front and back, is extremely important in drawing your figure correctly. In anatomy, this is known as the median line. It's a good idea to use this line as a checkpoint if your figure drawing seems to be incorrect, particularly in the three-quarter view when your figure is in perspective. AND when you are painting portraits, the buttons of a shirt must fall on this centerline.
|By drawing a line across the upper chest through the
mass of the deltoid muscles, at the heads of
the humerus bones and slightly above the armpits, you'll discover the broadest part of the entire body. The shoulders are NOT broadest at their upper corners! Study the arm carefully; From this point of greatest thickness near the shoulders, the arm begins to taper until it becomes smallest at the wrist.
The arms are capable of radical movement in any direction
at the shoulder joint. At the elbow,
only side-to-side and forward movement is possible. The upper arm is round and is made up of
only one bone, the humerus. Deltoid, biceps, and triceps muscles are prominent in the male. These
muscles are less pronounced in the female.
The forearm is made up of two long bones, the radius and the ulna. It is heaviest near the elbow,
where it is round. Two-thirds of the way down it tapers to a flat mass at the wrist.
Holding your hand flat, palm up, the ulna is on the little finger side. This bone is larger at the
elbow and smaller at the waist. The radius is the bone on the thumb side, and is larger on the wrist
end, smaller at the elbow end. When you turn your hand over, palm down, the position of the
radius and the ulna don't change at the elbow end, but midway down the forearm the radius twists
over the ulna, allowing the hand to lie flat in this position as well. Try this; with your hand, you
can easily feel the interaction of these two bones.
There is a sharper angle at the outside of the elbow joint, a rounder curve inside. When the arm is
bent (hands resting in lap or elbow leaning on arm of chair), the point of the elbow is found under
the CENTER of the upper arm, not in a line with the back of the upper arm. Shown in drawing
above. (line A to A)
|The most natural way to construct the arm is to block
it in as two cylinders of approximately the
same length: one for the upper arm, from the top of the shoulder to elbow; and one for the forearm, from the elbow to the wrist.