Lesson 8 Ecorche - Refining your Ecorche and Introducing Study Tracings

Refining your Ecorche Figure

Coloured Tracings

Refining your Ecorche

The aim for this lesson is to improve the overall proportions and sculptural arrangement of your Ecorche figure.  

We begin by looking  at the profiles of each of the major areas of the body - front, back and side profiles of the torso, and each of the arms and legs, comparing these views to the reference model below.  I have prepared screen captures of each of the views you will need to get started.

Consider the patterns of each of the limbs and the torso defined in the general pattern diagrams that we have seen previously and are included with their respective limb. The general flow and sweep of the body incorporates multiple structures and tissues, that must all be proportioned appropriately to make the general pattern work.

Left Leg (Straight/Extended, weight bearing)

Right Leg (Flexed at knee and Ankle)

Left Arm (Straight/ Extended, Pronated)

Right Arm (Flexed at elbow, supinated)


Introducing study tracings

1. Using tracing paper over the provided images, lightly trace the positions of edges, obvious plane breaks and bony landmarks - as in the left arm of the example at right.

2.  Remove the tracing paper and place the reference beside your tracing paper.  Define the forms with the weighted lines according to the methodology from Lesson 2 (make horizons darkest, followed by significant plane breaks and lastly cross contours.  Try to work out the overlap of horizon lines with the help of plan breaks and your experience of anatomy).

3. Next, take the tracing with those weighted lines and with reference to the original photo, carefully draw in or shade with coloured pencil where you think the muscle groups we have looked at in class would be (consider shading across the form of each muscle).  Always consider where the bony landmarks are, in order to figure out where the muscles are in between.  In cases where a bony landmark relates to another bony landmark within a larger structure (such as the ribcage), also take into account this 3D structure.  Use textbooks, class notes or your own Ecorche figure to help you figure it out.

As you look at the plane breaks, ask yourself: What is the edge of a muscle? What is a division within a muscle? What is a skin/fat fold?  

For some muscles or edges of muscles, this will be relatively straight forward - the plane breaks we have noted are created by the edge of a whole muscle (eg right Triceps).  In some places they are created by the muscle fibres themselves (eg left latissimus) or divisions within the muscle (eg deltoids), so it pays to know something about these   In other cases things will be more challenging, such as where the plane breaks of muscles themselves and other structures are hidden underneath the softening of subcutaneous fat, skin and other tissues (eg top of hips).   In some places, these superficial soft tissues are compressed into folds (eg the right side at the waste) which often run across the orientation of the muscles themselves (eg the right armpit folds cross the teres major, Triceps group and Deltoid).  These folds sometimes radiate from bony points, such as in the the lumbar spine, where you can see subtle compression folds radiating from vertebral spines.

4. Develop the solidity of each muscle further by shading the form darker as it turns away from you slightly (should still not be at dark as the actual horizon lines though!).  Make sure you take notice of how each form is different to the ones around it - nature is infinitely variable, and learning to see this variation is one of the keys of making attractive designs.  Try to catch yourself making the common mistake of reducing the variability.

5.  Mark in the key names and points that you need to remember - an abbreviation will do, triggering your memory next time you look at the drawing.

6.  As an extension, try constructing some of the bone structures on the page beside your drawing: in the example above in which the scapula and humerus is defined, as well as an indication of the forearm bones, the simplified curves of the spines of the vertebral column, and the top arc of the ribs with its angle across.