Drawing from Home: Human anatomy- from drawing to construction and back again

Dec. 14, 2021

Take some time this festive holiday to try this drawing exercise, designed by our faculty member Tara Versey. Explore a scaled down skeletal structure of human anatomy in space - using cardboard, pencil, ruler, scissors and a needle and thread. Adding a Santa hat to your skeleton would ensure even the little people around you might want to get involved!

Skeleton model

The body can be roughly divided into eight heads.

To make a small model I scaled down my measurement of division to 3cm, giving an overall height of 24cm (however you could use a different measurement, as long as all eight sections are the same and not too big or small for the box!). Draw parallel line divisions horizontally across using a ruler.

Skeletal proportions

Skeletal proportions 

Measuring proportions

Working from the diagram at the top of this post by Gottfried Bammes draw a frontal and a side view of the skeleton - ensuring they are each the same size. Note the horizontal and parallel relationships of the body. Drawing a central line is helpful. On the side view, mark the shoulder joint but omit the arm.

Cutting out the skeletal model


Cut around them carefully to reveal front and side silhoettes. On the side version separate the lower limb from the upper by cutting at the top of the leg. 

Cutting out the model

Bringing each part together

Make incisions at the top of the skull, through the rib cage and the lower pelvis - try to keep a small area in tact between each slit. 

Drawing exercise at home

Through these incisions the side view can be slotted. 


For the legs, make two from the same template and following the step from before making cuts in the lower part of the leg to allow the side view to pass through. 


Secure with tape. 


Pass a needle and thread through the top of the skull.


Find an old cardboard box and thread the needle through the top from the inside. For security it helps to thread it back through and out again.


Your finished model skeleton can now be observed in a constructed space. Set it in different lights and draw from it - noticing its relationship to each corner, top, bottom, sides and edges of the cardboard box.


Although the movement and flexibility of this model is limited, drawing and making it gives a good idea of the basic proportions, perspectives and relationships within a space. Much like in a theatre we can use our imaginations to bring ourselves into the space - and again to recreate, re-appropriate and reimagine our experiences in other spaces.


If you enjoyed this exercise, take a look at our other Drawing from Home exercises you can try this holiday.