Burne Hogarth reference books

I keep my prized reference books well guarded at all times.

If you know me, you know I love books (and comic books/graphic novels). If you’ve been in my studio (or you’ve seen the picture of me at my desk on the About Toby page), it’s readily apparent. I’m forever running out of shelf space and daydreaming ways to add more shelving (fortunately Lee and the kids are on board for this in the rest of the house, too). I’m not a terribly materialistic person (I think), I don’t like having stuff for stuff’s sake or accumulating clutter that doesn’t serve an actual purpose, but I make an exception for books. Books are useful. They are knowledge. They are inspiration. Every book and graphic novel in my studio has a specific reason for being there, and given that I didn’t get in my studio all last week due to the kids being on vacation, I thought I’d “profile” one such book for another installment of Studio Stuff.

Dynamic Anatomy

My well-worn copy of Dynamic Anatomy that I’ve had since…I can’t remember.

One of the first reference books I owned that had a major impact on my understanding of anatomy and how I draw was Burne Hogarth’s Dynamic Anatomy. It’s not a medical style anatomy book, it’s an artist’s reference for how the body moves. It’s clearly geared more towards the artist than the medical student, exploring the human form both at rest and in motion and illustrating the interplay between muscle and structure and how that affects the surface of the skin.

Dynamic Anatomy armDynamic Anatomy back

Given my love of superheroes and my dreams of breaking into comics, I thumbed through this book A LOT. I also discovered I just plain like drawing the human form. This was a birthday or Christmas gift from my parents when I was in my teens, and I’d have to say, all these years later, that it was a very worthwhile, educational, and motivational gift. I used to try to copy some of the drawings from the book as practice. I referenced it often as I drew my own muscle bound comic book characters. I even did tracings to understand the forms better.

Dynamic Anatomy tracing

I found this tucked in between pages when I opened the book today prepping for this blog entry.

I eventually wound up getting six other books by Burne Hogarth, all of which I’ve turned to many times over the last few decades for both understanding and inspiration. They even went to my crammed college dorm room. Mr. Hogarth died in 1996, just a few years after I received my copy of Dynamic Anatomy, so I don’t have the option of ever thanking him for his pioneering work as an artist and cartoonist (most notably the Tarzan newspaper strip), as well as his years teaching in the classroom and of course all of his knowledge and experience he attempted to capture and share with these books. So I guess let this be a bit of a tribute to the man and his impact, and instead I’ll thank my parents, once again, for their unending support and the foresight so many years ago to encourage and “feed” my dreams in so many ways.

Burne Hogarth reference books spread

From left to right: The Arcane Eye of Hogarth, Dynamic Anatomy, Dynamic Figure Drawing, Dynamic Light and Shade, Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery, Drawing the Human Head, and Drawing Dynamic Hands.