Human Anatomy

The Ribcage

In this article we will see step by step how to draw the front part of the rib cage. I only tried this myself a few days ago so I am sure it will be very helpful for absolute beginners. I will try to keep the article short and easy as usual.

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Step 1

Frist of all you need to define the main proportions of the rib cage; width and height. Measuring the maximum dimensions you would see that the rib cage could roughly fit in a square box.


Step 2

Once you have the main dimensions in place you can then start looking at the main shapes of the rib cage. Keep in mind it is symmetrical either side of the chest bone (middle bone). See the shape below. To help me measure this accurately I measured and sketched the top set of ribs. Once you have that in place check where your maximum width of the rib cage is and start connecting the lines to create this “egg shaped” outlines.


Step 3

Now you have the main outline in place you can start looking at the various shapes internally. Define the length of the chest bone (approx. half of the total width). Make sure you start sketching the chest bone at the correct level because otherwise even if you have the right length it will look too short. With the chest bone sketched you can start adding the rib centre lines (I found sketching their full width immediately quite confusing as your page will be covered in a million lines).

There are 5 sets of ribs connected to the chest bone and there are two extensions onto which you have five more sets (a medical student might be able to help with the terminology…). Measure the spacing carefully as they are not exactly at regular centres.


Step 4

Basic shape of the chest bone is on your paper as well as the rib centre lines. You can now start rubbing that back so you can barely see your previous lines. Its time to start defining the shape of the ribs and the chest bone a bit better.


Step 5

At this stage I found sketching the spine very helpful as it gives you a feel of where the ribs meet and close the cage. So do that now. Roughly shape the spine. You can approximately measure and see where the ribs meet (having a reference photo will help you a lot with this – aslso a study of the ribcage/spine from behind I think wil be very appropriate to clarify this area).


Step 6

Final step is to show the colar bones. These connect to the top o the chest bone. Is good to know where the collar bones sit is it will be necessary to show those when drawing from life. Also, it will help you understand better how the head and the neck sit between the shoulders. This will be looked at in a following study.


I hope you enjoyed reading this article and you found it useful. Similar articles are published occasionally with helpful infomation and simply described roules and principles of sketching. Stay in touch (Facebook, Instagram)!


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