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Arms seem like a simple area at first glance, but they are actually one of the parts of the body that can be most difficult for beginners. A good understanding of the anatomy of the arm will make your character look 100% more natural, and more importantly, help you understand why your character’s arms don’t look right sometimes. Let’s get started and see if we can iron out some of those mistakes for perfect arms every time!
Let’s take a look at these two examples above. Which arm do you think looks more natural?
The answer is “B”! Did you get it right?
Let’s take a look at why “A” looks strange, to help us avoid making the same mistakes in our own work!
What is the correct balance for arms?
Below we have a deconstructed version of arm A, so we can see what went wrong with it.
One of the most common mistakes when it comes to the upper arm, is adding too many dips and bumps. While definition is important, we need to make sure it is anatomically accurate! The upper and lower arms should also be equal lengths, and the shoulder blade should connect to the shoulder.
Let’s go through the mistakes here one by one…
The shoulder isn’t attached to the collarbone
The thickness of the upper arm changes too much
The lower arm is shorter than the upper arm
Because the lower arm is too short, this makes the position of the hand look strange and forced
Now let’s see the positive aspects of arm B!
The shoulder and collarbone are connected
Upper and lower arms are the same length
The elbow is part of the lower arm
Common arm mistakes
Next, let’s take a look at some more common mistakes we see when artists draw arms!
The upper and lower arms do not bend and curve in the same way. The shape of these two parts of the arm, and the outer and inner sides of the arm should be distinctive and different. You’ll see from the good example image below, that the outer sides of the arm are simple sloped lines, and the inner sides are curved, with the lower arm almost forming an S shape.
The bicep makes the arm curve out
The elbow is part of the lower arm, not upper arm
The lower arm follows the line along from the elbow
The outer and inner lines of the upper arm follow the same angle and curve, ignoring the muscles of the arm
The angle of the lines for the lower arm also curve in towards each other in an unnatural way
This dip in the upper arm is not natural
Again, the shape of the lower arm is made unnatural by the angle of the curves being the same on the outside and inside
Hopefully these tips will help you draw arms more naturally and accurately in your work! Remember, reference photos are your friend, and observing your own arms is always helpful. Happy studying everyone!