How To Draw Muscles easy with this how-to video and step-by-step drawing instructions. Pencil drawings for beginners and everyone.
Please see the drawing tutorial in the video below
Video produced by channel: Robert Marzullo
You can refer to the simple step-by-step drawing guide below
Drawing muscles is actually quite complicated. When I first started drawing muscles as a kid, I would give my characters 16 rows of abs (more abs = stronger, right??) and squeeze a lot of lines “() ” into each arm or leg section. I don’t know what I’m doing. Years later, I had to buy a nice anatomy book to start learning how to draw a human figure properly with all the muscles attached in place. I recommend Burne Hogarth’s Dynamic Anatomy and Animation. There were other good anatomy books, but those were the ones I started writing, and I still use them to this day.
The first step to drawing muscle is to understand what a muscle is. Muscles are made up of “fibre” fibers. If you’ve ever eaten a whole roast beef or beef loin, you can see every fiber in the meat. So while different muscles in the body have different shapes, they are all made up of the same muscle fibers. In addition to the eye-catching appearance, the muscles are responsible for moving our body. To do this, they are attached to our bones by ligaments or tendons. When muscles flex or stretch, they pull on our bones to work wonders, so to speak. When you wiggle your fingers, it’s actually the muscles in your arm that are doing the work.
While I cannot give detailed instructions on how to draw each muscle in the body, it is paramount to note that muscles and body parts look different from different angles and in different positions. . Here I have drawn the front, side and back of a right arm. Even if you practice these three views from an anatomy book, it will only help you draw the arm in these three views. You really need to understand which muscles do what and what they look like from different angles. The best way to do this is to draw from a model or photo of a real person. Most artists discourage drawing from manga or anime. I think that can be helpful, but only when combined with real-life studies and anatomy books. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of pulling the arm from just one perspective. It can be very difficult to break that habit.
I want to learn the basic functions of most muscles drawn on a working figure. When it comes to arms and legs, and even major body movements, we’re talking Flexion and Extension. The biceps and hamstrings (and I also mean the abs), are flexible muscles. The biceps pull the forearm up. Quads pull the lower leg back. The abdominal muscles pull the rib cage and pelvis together. On the opposite side, the triceps, quadriceps muscles in the lower back stretch or straighten the arms, legs, and spine. There are many other bending/stretching pairs throughout the body. For example, the lateral forearm muscle extends the fingers, and the inner forearm muscle contracts to close the hand to squeeze, and so on. When drawing arms and hands, the position of these bones determines EVERYTHING. The bar is fixed to your elbow and forms the outer edge of your forearm. The other bone is the radius, and it actually rotates around the ulna. Different biceps muscles are responsible for pulling the radius back and forth, allowing us to rotate our wrists and hands 180 degrees. At each point of that twist, the arm muscles take on a different appearance. By understanding how they work, you will be able to visualize and draw them properly.
Ok, enough lectures. Now let’s draw. Start by drawing a large circle for the chest. Draw a small oval above the chest and a small triangle below and connect them to the chest using short lines. This is the head and pelvis. Draw two long lines from the pelvis down for the legs and mark the knee position. Draw two curved lines for the arm and wrap it with two large circles for the fist. This guy is going to have some crazy proportions.
Lighten up your base artboard and start drawing lines. I drew a 5-sided shape for the outline of the head. The upper face is square, with a pointed chin. The body is basically two shapes joined together. I should draw a split line, but I want the center of the shape to be clean for later. The chest is a hexagon or stop sign. The pelvis is an upside down pentagon. Instead of using a round shape, this angled shape gives us sockets to attach the arms and legs.
To keep things simple, let’s draw one Jellybean for each upper arm. Make sure there are two curves overhead – one for the biceps and one for the shoulders. Then, scroll down and draw a house or pentagon for each upper leg. The bottom point of these shapes is the kneecap. Now draw a pair of shoulder-to-jaw lines for the trapezius muscles.
I’m combining the two steps here because the shapes are generally very simple. Draw two corners to outline each lower leg. The angle at the inner calf is more dynamic than the outside of the leg. Draw in some simple feet, then move up the arms. I recommend drawing hands first. Look at your own hands for reference and just try to simplify things for this drawing. Then draw a wavy line for the inner forearm, and draw a large angle for the outer forearm and elbow.
With the main body parts outlined, we can now begin to draw the major muscle groups. I would start with a run below the pectoral/chest muscles. It’s a wide W shape. Then divide the chest in half with a midline running down the entire torso. Finally, draw a jewel for the belly shield.
Now for the arms and legs… Start with a small curve to work under each shoulder muscle. Then draw a curved line for each biceps. Follow that with a smaller curve for each super muscle armpit. I noticed that I needed some great muscles (latissumus dorsi), so let’s add a curve on each side of the chest. For thighs, draw an angle to outline the top of each kneecap. Then, draw a large V to separate the quadriceps on each leg.
Okay, don’t get distracted by all the extras at this step. Start at the neck and draw a small V from the chin to the chest. Draw a curved line on each side of the letter V, running from jaw to chest. These are mastoid bones. I think there’s a “cleido” in there these days. Anyway, draw four curves to separate the individual ab muscles. A pair of question marks will suggest some muscles in the ribcage. I reused the question mark shape on the outer forearm and a small curve for the inner forearm. The small wrinkles that come from the palm indicate the tendons. Outline the shin, and then it’s just a matter of adding details on the face and outfit.
I decided to use the existing artwork as the basis for a more detailed drawing with finer lines. I made a few adjustments to the chest placement. In addition, everything matches the simpler drawing. Getting the basic position is the most important. You can then add as much or as little detail as you like. The color version of this drawing is in the preview at the top.
Now we’re going to tackle something a little more complicated. I’ll try to space the steps as much as possible, but we’ll be drawing a shape from both the front 3/4 and the back 3/4. Draw a circle for the chest and a smaller shape for the head. A triangle acts as the pelvis, then we can add sticks for the arms and legs. Basic standing position.
I don’t always draw the muscles the same way on every character. I like to combine techniques. A fun way to start is to picture the chest and shoulders as a harness that wraps around the ribcage in one piece. The front looks familiar, but the back may not be familiar to many. In this view, we have only two heads of the deltoid/shoulder muscle (there are 3 heads in total for each shoulder). The posterior biceps muscle attaches to the shoulder blades, has a triangular shape. While there are other muscles at the top of the shoulder blades, the triangle is still prominent below the deltoid. Notice the wrinkling of the pectoral muscles. In Step 2, the bottom right outline shows a muscle pattern similar to the pectoralis major. When overgrown and pliable, wrinkles appear. They start in the armpit and spread toward the breastbone.
In the front view, we will draw the sterno-cleido mastoid running from behind the ear to the center of the collarbone, right in the middle of the top of the breast. Then we will draw the radius muscles from both the front and back. These muscles attach at the base/back of the skull and run along the spine and out to the sides, attaching at the top of the shoulders. Remember that you are not just drawing lines. You are sketching soft shapes wrapped around hard bones. It’s okay to keep things drab and animated in this type of study. Just try to simplify the overall idea and remember a few anatomical landmarks for each set of muscles. The traps are like a kite spreading and connecting at four points, in a diamond pattern. Try to do mental comparisons for each muscle group.
Here I want to draw the main muscles seen from each angle. In the biceps, we see the biceps at the anterior angle and the triceps at the posterior angle. The biceps can be drawn as a rounded rectangle running vertically, from the shoulder down to the elbow pit. Each biceps actually has two parts, but it usually appears as a single muscle. Similarly, the triceps is made up of three muscles, but often appears as two. Weird. The large head of the triceps sits high on the back of the arm, the two larger tendons running down each side and joining at the elbows. I went ahead and brought the elbows into the overall triceps shape.
Now is the time for biceps. These are some of the most complex muscles in the body, so I recommend looking in the mirror and using an anatomy book, action figure, or reference photo to help you position these muscles. The larger biceps muscles grip the upper half of the arm and sit high up on the forearm. The forearm becomes thinner toward the wrist as the muscles run into tendons.
Using each opposite image as a reference, we can perfect the arms by adding the remaining muscles that are mostly obscured in each view. Knowing what the triceps look like from the back will make it easier to spot them from the front. Same goes for biceps. With learning and practice, you should be able to almost create a 3D model of these muscles in your head. However, it takes a crazy amount of practice to start memorizing these, so keep drawing.
On the front, outline the lower part of the ribcage and start adding the interlaced muscles below the chest. This is the previous part of serratus. In the back view, we can draw the liners that I mentioned in the previous drawing. They are only partially visible in the front view, but they dominate part of the back in the rear view. Again, you really need to study an anatomy book to understand these muscles and how they wrap around the body. I can’t give you enough examples to really give you an idea. You just have to study it and if possible, see a live specimen.
This step is pretty much each. First, we will outline the top of the pelvis. In the rear view, it runs along the upper part of the gluteal muscle. In the front view, this line continues down to the crotch. From there, we can increase 6 pack abs. There are actually 8 rows of abs, but we drew the top row in the previous step. Since these people sit on top of the ribcage, they are often less developed and less visible than a standard six pack.
Now we will draw the main muscles on the front and back of the leg. On the front side, start by drawing each kneecap. The quadriceps muscle runs from the kneecap up to the pelvis. The tendons attached to the bone are thin, but the muscle itself is very large. The quads, combined, are the largest muscles in the body. At least, I think that’s true. If it’s not quads, it should be hamstrings. That’s what we see on the back, just below the butt. These are basically the biceps of the legs, and they work in exactly the same way. There are actually two pairs of gluteal muscles – the gluteus maximus (which is the glutes) and the gluteus medius, located above and to the sides. Medius has a triangular shape to it and it can be seen both in front and behind.
We can now add the main muscles located on either side of the quadriceps. Most of these muscles are located just above the kneecap, but they are actually attached to the shin bone as well as the upper shin bone. You may notice a tube-like shape behind the inner quads. It is the tibial nerve. It runs from the iliac crest (the upper crest of the pelvis) down to the tibia. I love drawing the IT band, for some reason. Draw a little bit so we can start wrapping up this bad boy.
The calf muscles mirror the forearm muscles in an interesting reverse symmetry…if that makes sense. The bulky muscles sit high on the back of the leg and the tendons run down the ankle, all the way to the toes. The shin itself is mostly flat and bony, but there are muscles that run along the outer edge of the shin bone. I added some bulk to the bottom leg. It’s a bit cartoonish, but I think it suits the character.
With all the muscles in place, we could go into detail and detail this breast pump any way we wanted. I decided to choose my thin line drawing style. I keep the upper body clearly defined, but blur the muscles in the lower body a bit so that not every muscle looks as if it is being flexed at the same time. What is this? He has three claws on one hand and four fingers on the other?? Of course he is. After all, he is a mutant, an alien. Hmmm!
I think the coloring step is quite important when I want to illustrate a muscular and barely clothed character. Unless you add heavy shadows to define the muscular shape, the black outline is not always clear to the viewer. That’s why it’s important to subdivide your lines when possible and add definition with color. It can be ink wash, dye, art brush, digital color, or even pencil shading on top of ink line art. There’s a lot you can do and it’s worth the extra effort. If you’re afraid to mess up your original drawing with color, make a copy and use cardboard if possible. Most printing places carry that. Anyway, I hope this tutorial has given you a head start in understanding some of the essentials of drawing muscular figures. Like I said, a lot of work and research is needed to do it properly. I’m still learning, and I’ll probably never finish learning the human figure. There is always something new to learn. Just keep wondering, keep searching and keep drawing. Thanks for watching!