No artist, no matter how talented or experienced, is capable of drawing the human body perfectly every time. This is especially true for dynamic poses or exciting angles. As humans, we are prone to notice when human depictions look a little off. Likewise, we recognize when someone has succeeded in illustrating an accurate and aesthetically pleasing figure. Who doesn't appreciate good art?
Drawing from life is the tried and true method traditional artists employ to improve their skills, especially figure drawing. Not everyone can, or wants to, participate in a session of drawing live nudes. I personally have not done so, but recognize the benefits of such an activity. Solid figure drawing is the foundation for compelling character design and story telling.
To help artists achieve a better understanding of human anatomy, I suggest using a pose-able plastic figurine for the purpose of reference. As flexible as the human body is, there are limits to how far the hips can twist, the shoulder can pull, and the head tilt. Some of the most commonly illustrated poses in modern superhero comics are simply not feasible... unless of course you have superpowers, right?
Apart from purposeful superhuman exaggeration, it's important to have your art grounded in reality. It will be so much better because of it. Having reference will not only make your character look more believable, but it will also give you a greater understanding of the muscle groups, joint movement, and proportions. Having this knowledge will enable you to draw better, even without the use of figurines.
However, sometimes the illustration or comic panels calls for a fantastic pose. Even with perfect knowledge of the human body, drawing from an extreme angle can be challenging and frustrating. It's simple to pose the anatomical model instead of having to figure it out and see it in your mind's eye first. Hold the figurine in the right position for reference. Take a photo if need be, to free up your other hand so you can get back to drawing.
For centuries, artists have already been utilizing wooden manikins for figure drawing to much success. The plastic figurines that I use are more detailed, defined, and modeled in the Japanese anime style. Because my personal illustrating style has such an Eastern influence, these models didn't require me to alter the overall look of my characters.
Regardless of the style, anime figure models still move and pose just like a regular body would. All the muscle groups are accounted for. If your personal drawing style is different, it's still possible to mask your character over the top of a figure drawing. Like a skeleton, it's useful to sketch out a pose and use it as reference while drawing your own body definition on a new layer.
Admittedly, I don't use my figurines every time when I'm drafting my characters. Yet, having used them in the past and when referencing tricky poses, they have helped improve the quality of my drawings and the level of my confidence as an artist. I highly recommend picking up a pair for yourself if you want to take your art to the next level.
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