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a study of abs by GregStevens a study of abs by GregStevens
One thing I've noticed in a lot of beginners' drawings of the male body is that the abs often look the same in every single figure, portrait, or character that they draw. I've been guilty of this, myself, especially when drawing from my imagination rather than from a photo or a person.

But there are a lot of ways that abs can be different, apart from just the obvious "more defined" vs. "less defined" contrast. There are differences in the person's frame and overall proportions, there are differences in the connectivity and shapes of the muscles. These can be due to genetics, or due to differences in the way the muscles evolve because of how a person works out.

So as an exercise, I decided to take eight examples of extremely well-defined abs and sketch them, side-by-side, to see what I might learn.

I'll tell you what I learned in this exercise:

  • 6-pack or 8-pack. All of the models have ridiculously low body-fat, but models for B, D, and G simply did not develop the "8 pack" look. This is partly physiology and partly the way they work out.

  • Ab symmetry. The abs on the left and right sides line up on models A, B, C and F, but they do not on models D, E, G or H. This also affects the look of the center vertical line, which sometimes looks like a "straight line" but in other cases looks very crooked.

  • Separation between chest and top abs. B and D have a very large separation between the chest and the top of the abs; A, C and E have a small but very well-defined gap; while in H there seems to be no real separation at all between the chest and top of the abs.

  • Width of the abs. B and E have very narrow abs relative to the width of their torso overall (you see a lot of thickness running down the SIDES of the abs), while C and G have very wide abs.

  • Flatness of the abs. D and F have very flat abs, which I tried to get across with the shading (notice that the shaded areas are very narrow), while A, C, E and G all have very rounded and protruding abs (notice that there are thicker amounts of shading outlining the muscles).

  • Torso shape. C and G have very V-shaped torsos, which also affects the way that the abs look. E, D and A are at the opposite extreme.



One last interesting thing: what can you tell from a person's abs? Can you tell just by looking at these sketches that model G is 5'9" and models D and E are both 6'3"? Can you tell that models F and H have a more square jaw and models A and D are more "boyish" looking?


It's interesting to try to find relationships. And to think about how knowing this stuff can help you to draw more realistic "characters" out of your imagination.

So what do YOU see?

Technical details:

Sketches are 2H graphite pencil on paper.


Some other studies and demos that I've created:

Add a Comment:
 
:iconkazuac:
KazuAC Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2012   Traditional Artist
Finally, someone notices! And even got a tutorial about it. Yes!! This has made my life sooo much easier. Yes, I may still need to collect clippings of human ab muscles but sometimes y'gotta have the basics.
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:iconydt81:
ydt81 Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2011
This is a really insightful tutorial. Though I've loved the figure for a long time, I hadn't started thinking about specific until recently. Thanks for pointing out a lot of blunders to avoid. Note: on your 4th nite down you refer to models "G and G"-- I was just wondering which ones were you referring to? Thanks again and take care
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! And thank you for catching the typo, too: I meant it to say "C and G", and now I've corrected it.

Thanks
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:icondeathlee28:
DeathLee28 Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
thanks for doing this
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you like it!
Reply
:iconsesshys6th:
sesshys6th Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
but then again an eight pack is more appealing
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:iconsesshys6th:
sesshys6th Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
G is for Gorgeous!!
..super babe-a-licious
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:iconsexy-grim:
Sexy-Grim Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2011  Student Writer
This is very helpful
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad!
Reply
:iconsexy-grim:
Sexy-Grim Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2011  Student Writer
It will make my art a lot better. Merci
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:iconlacotawolf:
LacotaWolf Featured By Owner May 21, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I like G, so hawt *w*
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner May 22, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Really! That's very interesting. I actually find the "G" body-type the least attractive, personally.

It just goes to show that different people have different tastes. I'm most turned on by the D and E types: long, lanky torsos.
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:iconlacotawolf:
LacotaWolf Featured By Owner May 22, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
They're all great drawings though ^^ And theyre all sooo attractive *3* Can I use this as a reference ? c:
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner May 22, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Please do!
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:iconasblackascoal:
AsBlackAsCoal Featured By Owner May 4, 2011
Wow pretty cool, im working on drawing men.. better? And this sort of thing is a really cool idea, you've inspired me ;) awesome work dude
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner May 4, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! And glad I could be an inspiration.
Reply
:iconradiance-eternal:
Radiance-Eternal Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Wow, this is seriously cool stuff. I hadn't ever considered doing something like this.
Admittedly, it's easy to fall into the habit of drawing all abs/torso alike. There's really a lot more variety out there than even I realized. I remember times when I'd be drawing a torso, or looking at someone else's drawing of a torso, and thinking, "Wait, that's wrong" simply because it didn't look like what I had perceived as the "standard" structure.

As to the questions you posed - very intriguing! I never thought of the possible correlations before. As much as I consider myself an anatomy buff (hah, a pun!), I can't for the life of me make out any out-of-sight features. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a link, though. I'll have to keep an eye out for it now. :)
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm definitely fascinated by the "subtle" things that people don't notice that contribute to an overall impression of a figure. Abs and body shape can have a lot of interesting subtleties. I'm glad you find it as interesting as I do! Thanks!
Reply
:iconradiance-eternal:
Radiance-Eternal Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Once again, I agree! It's the subtle things that really make something lifelike, I think. Whenever I do realistic pieces I always try to identify the little nuances that give a picture character and life - a hidden grin, a tiny little rise in an enthusiastic eye, or even a slight relaxed twist or bend to a body or limb. It's amazing what the small things can do! I have to admit, it makes drawing things like faces a real pain, but it is fun trying to decode them. =P
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:iconskylinne:
Skylinne Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2011
This is just SO awesome!! Thank you very much for doing it! :D
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem! Glad you like it!
Reply
:iconunique-chic:
unique-chic Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2011
So very helpful!!! Thank you so much, Greg.
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:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you like it! It seems to have gotten a lot of feedback, I feel like I should do more things like this....
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:iconakemi-sakamoto:
Akemi-Sakamoto Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2011
Holy cow this is exactly what I've been looking for. Thank you so much!
Reply
:icongregstevens:
GregStevens Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm so glad to be able to help!
Reply
:iconakemi-sakamoto:
Akemi-Sakamoto Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2011
It's well drawn and detailed, thanks again!
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