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Art Book Review: Animal Anatomy For Artists: The Elements of Form by Eliot Goldfinger

Animal Anatomy For Artists by Goldfinger Artist Reference Book Review 1

Animal Anatomy for Artists is my favorite reference book for elephant artworks. This book is quite different from An Atlas Of Animal Anatomy by Ellenberger, in that it has lots of images of individual muscle structures, along with full-figure musculature images.

While this is a really interesting aspect to the book, and useful in certain situations, it’s sometimes a bit difficult to understand how these individual muscle structures work in the whole of the muscular system – i.e., these images aren’t always helpful unless you really have an eye for anatomy. I actually do study anatomy of the horse quite often, and I still find myself a bit lost in some of these details.

That said, there’s a LOT to love about this book!

Check Second Sale or for this book at a discount!

My reference library includes a few animal anatomy for artists books, and this is one of my top picks for animal reference material.

Four books are my main library of anatomy-focused books, and this post gives an overview with links to reviews for each book if you’d like to see more anatomy reference materials. Lanteri’s Modelling and Sculpting Animals book focuses mainly on sculpture, and is invaluable for 3D artists.

Animal Anatomy For Artists Table Of Contents:

Animal Anatomy For Artists by Goldfinger Artist Reference Book Review 2
Animal Anatomy For Artists by Goldfinger - Artist Reference Book Review

I mentioned above that the individual muscle images can be a bit difficult to put to use as an artist, but it really depends on how much study you want to put into your works on whether you’ll find this useful. The images come with written information on each muscle, it’s origin and insertion points, the action this muscle performs, and comparative images between different animals for each muscle.

It’s a lot of information to take in, but it’s intriguing and can be useful in other areas – I mostly use this for my exercise planning with my real life horse with a muscle disorder, but on occasion do find it useful for artworks as well (it’s very likely that the study I put in for my horse seeps into my artworks!). So for some, this section won’t be helpful, but for others, it may be a huge reason for buying this book over a different animal anatomy book.

Overall, I do use this section for my artworks, especially when I’m needing extra detail for a specific muscle group. While it does mean a bit of extra study, I feel that the end product is worth that effort!

Images from Animal Anatomy For Artists by E. Goldfinger:

The last image shows why this book has a prominent place in my reference library – the section on elephants is incredibly useful for me! There’s a lot of comparison drawings showing how animals differentiate or appear similar in individual muscles and in full musculature, which is useful.

There are silhouette images showing different body styles within animal families, a small section on humans, images of horns and antlers, vein structures, and more. Overall, this is a great reference book that I think deserves a spot in most artist’s reference libraries!

Comparison to Other Animal Anatomy For Artists Books In My Library:

Ellenberger’s book focuses more on the whole individual rather than individual muscles compared to this book, along with sections of muscles like shoulders, legs, etc., which is very similar to Cyclopedia Anatomicae. Ellenberger’s book also has more angles, making it a bit more useful to the 3D artist that may need strange angles of the subject to get a full feel for the whole subject.

That said, there are times the individual muscle images are incredibly useful, and you won’t find these images in Ellenberger’s book or Cyclopedia Anatomicae. In short, these books complement each other beautifully, which is why they all have a place in my reference library.

I’m giving this a 5/5 rating, because it honestly deserves it. I mentioned things that may make this book less of a fit for some, but the sheer amount of information in this book, the detail that went into the drawings, and the complementary way this book fits into my library of reference materials makes this book irreplaceable as a reference for me.

This book was discontinued, but can sometimes be found used at Second Sale,, or other second hand book retailers. You can also find tons of newer art books, including animal anatomy drawing books, at Blick Art Materials.

See all book reviews!

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