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Before I begin this tutorial I will attempt to briefly describe the arm.
The arm is made up of the upper arm which extends from the shoulder to the elbow. The lower arm which connects from the mid point of the elbow to the wrist and the wrists which connects to the hand. The actual term arm refers specifically to the part of the arm between the shoulder and the elbow. The part between the elbow and the wrist is referred to as the forearm, however when talking about the arm it is normally accepted as meaning the whole arm from shoulder to wrist.
There are several theories as to the correct proportions of the arm in relation to the body, the most famous being Vitruvian Man, by Leonardo da Vinci. but I prefer to use artistic license and believe that you can roughly judge the arms in relation to the rest of the body to suit the desired pose you are looking for.
However through out this tutorial I will show examples and divide the arms into equal parts to give you an idea of the arms overall appearance on the subject in various poses. We are all pretty good judges of what looks right or not and nobody has perfect symmetry as we are all different in our appearances but by using the examples provided you should be able to get a pretty accurate representation of your subject.
The arm has three main muscle groups comprising of the Biceps which is a two headed muscle that links from under the deltoid muscle down to the elbow. The Triceps which is a three headed muscle that works in opposition to the bicep and that also connects under the deltoid and below the elbow, and the Forearm which consists of the Flexor's which curl the wrist down and forwards and the forearm extensors which curl the wrist back and up.
The sketch's above are of a muscular male arm and are there to give you a basic idea of the muscle groups and how they look and add to the overall shape of the arm. As we are concentrating on the female her arms will be slightly thinner and the muscle groups will be a lot less prominent but you will still need to keep in mind the position of the three muscle groups in relation to the position of the arms in your drawing.
When drawing the arms it is important to make sure that they look in proportion to the rest of the body. If you are drawing a basic figurative female form then she will have a less defined smoother looking appearance. If you are drawing a fit strong looking female then you will need to increase her arm size to show the shapes of the muscles in relation to their position on the arms. This however does not mean that you have to adhere strictly to what I have said as only you know what you want and how you want your finished subject to look. Using my original basic sketch of a female body as seen in my How to draw the female body for absolute beginners tutorial, under The female body outline I will try to demonstrate how the arms will look in relation to the upper body.
In my first example the female is of a slender build with a pear shaped figure and little if any definition or muscle tone. Her upper arms are lightly built and her body is smooth in appearance. Her forearms will show a little shape from her elbow over the extensor muscles and will taper slightly toward the wrist. The backs of her arms will appear almost flat with no definition as the flexor muscles will not be visible. My second female subject is more muscular in appearance and so her arms will need to portray this. From her shoulders which are slightly rounded and more defined, her upper arms curve over her Bicep and Triceps muscles down toward the elbow. Her forearms are more defined as she has larger Flexor and Extensor muscles which add a more definite curved appearance to them.
Although both these sketch's are of the same subject they both appear completely different. By adding muscle shape to the arms and body you can alter the overall look of your subject. In the following pages I will try to demonstrate and explain how the arms should look in your drawing using various sketch's and explanations. The images on the following pages contain artistic full frontal nudity in various poses.