This is one of the first sculpture books I bought, well before my art career even began, and it’s played a huge part in my sculpture education. It was recommended in my beginner sculpture class in college, and it has been an amazing reference tool for me. While I don’t follow the armature advice in this book (I use kiln-fired clays instead of casting/molding, so my armature has to be different), the clay work advice and reference images are invaluable.
The four books shown here 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. The other three books focus solely on anatomy and don’t really focus on 2D or 3D – even if they did, once you learn to see and feel 3D work, it becomes relatively easy to turn 2D reference into 3D artworks, so all reference materials are extremely useful, no matter the medium you’re working in.
From detailed anatomy information and images for several different animals, to building oil based clay armatures and working in the round (3D), to relief sculpture (2D in clay), this book has a ton of information for the clay sculptor:
Sculpture Books: table of contents so you can see what this book encompasses – click for larger images
This book also goes into the mold making and casting process, so is a great reference if you want a non-clay finished artwork (which may also be a better option for those without a kiln). The section on the mold and casting process deals with plaster. As someone who’s worked sparingly with molds and casts, this process has quite a learning curve and is almost like picking up another art medium, so be prepared for that if you’re new to working with clay.
Detailed information on armature making for oil based clay figures is found mostly in the horse section, which also features a comparative measurements section (like my comparative measurements for the horse head), but it’s for the full figure of the horse (and extremely useful!).
Sculpture Books: some example pages of the depth of detail in this book!
The book then breaks down into the details of the anatomical structures for other animals, notes on how to build the armature for each, and comparative measurements for each of these animals as well. It’s not just full-figure muscle structure images, each animal has detailed face, leg, and full figure anatomical references including muscles, bone, and even tendons.
I can’t stress enough how useful this book is for the realistic sculptor focused on animal artworks. It’s an invaluable reference for learning how to turn 2D reference material into a 3d work of art, and would be even more useful to someone working with oil based clays (which I am hoping to work with a bit in the future, and this book will be a huge resource for me when I do). A good portion of my clay sculptures were made using this book and Ellenberger’s book for reference materials (this is the only book at of my sculpture books that ever makes it to the clay table, it’s just too useful to not have available while I’m working!).
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