Studying human anatomy is a long road that can stretch on for years. It takes a lot of practice and rote repetition to truly master the human anatomy and memorize all the bones, muscles, insertions/origins, and the behaviors of all these features.
If you haven’t already checked out the Proko figure drawing course then I suggest starting there. All of those exercises prepare you for studying the figure in greater detail. However it’s certainly not a necessity if you have some drawing experience.
The Proko anatomy course is one of the best online. It’s pricier than anatomy books but it also delivers a lot more content. You’ll get full HD video lessons along with exercise files, PDF cheatsheets, and a cool 3D modeling tool.
If you need a solid intro to human anatomy then this course will prove incredibly worthwhile.
In case you didn’t already know, Stan Prokopenko is the guy behind Proko.
He runs a premium art video series with different courses aimed at self-taught artists who can’t afford(or don’t have time) to attend regular classes.
Most premium videos have related “freemium” versions posted to the ProkoTV channel on YouTube. Stan releases free clipped versions of some videos to draw attention to his premium content, and to help artists who don’t have money to spend on premium content.
So if you’ve never seen his videos before you should check out Stan’s YouTube and gauge for yourself. All the videos are crystal clear with great audio and they follow a fantastic teaching style that’s unique to Proko.
Stan teaches at Watts Atelier where he initially enrolled as a student many years back. He clearly has an aptitude for not just drawing & painting, but also teaching.
This entire anatomy course targets artists who have no idea where to start or what to study. This course offers a regimented routine which self-taught artists can struggle to develop on their own.
But many of these videos are available for free on YouTube. So why get the premium course instead of just streaming the free lessons?
Plenty of reasons but these are the big ones:
Longer video lessons(plus extra lessons)
Way more examples/exercise videos
3D human model webapp in your browser
Cheatsheets and assignment “answers” to exercises
To expand on that last point: each section of this course has a bunch of exercises and assignments for you to practice on your own. Some of these assignments are in the free YouTube videos, but none of the answers are.
In the premium course you get to watch Stan do these exercises from start to finish. You can study how he solves each assignment to help you better understand the process.
Plus every video in the anatomy course is longer than the free videos. Stan uploads clipped versions to his YouTube channel so they do have good information, but not all the information.
The premium anatomy course has hundreds of extra videos and hours upon hours of extra material. Plus you get extra cheatsheets and bonus videos of Stan critiquing student work.
All-in-all the premium anatomy course is for serious artists who want to master human anatomy. The free videos are great to get started, but they cannot take you all the way.
So let’s dive into the meat of this course and see what it’s all about!
Anatomy Course Structure
This course is the first one to be released in parts. This lets you buy one section without buying the whole course.
There are three sections total each focusing on a different part of the body:
Stan does not cover any content on facial features or bones, although this may come later. However he does cover the neck muscles and the spinal cord so you’ll study literally everything except the face/head.
Each section has subsections to help organize the learning process. The very first chapter is universal covering anatomical terms and the different types of joints.
You’ll need to know joint types regardless of what you’re studying so this first chapter is crucial. But each anatomy section(torso/arms/legs) follows a formulaic approach to the subject.
Stan begins with the deepest layer(bones/tendons) and slowly moves out into surface muscles.
For example in the “Arms” course you start by learning all the bones in the arm and the hand. Then you move into the muscles with each muscle getting it’s own sub-subsection(is that a word?).
These muscle lessons are very detailed because these are the forms you’ll be drawing in the figure room. Every single lesson has a series of exercises to help you practice and improve one muscle group before moving onto the next.
Each new chapter focuses on one bone/muscle at a time.
The early lessons teach the full anatomy of where it’s located, how it moves, and its origin/insertion points(or joints for bones). Then you’ll study how to draw that piece of anatomy with tons of exercise videos, a free e-book study guide, and finally some critiques of real work sent in by Proko premium subscribers.
Here’s a sample breakdown of all the videos in the “Pecs & Breasts” chapter of the torso anatomy course.
How to Draw Pecs: Anatomy and Form(plus assignments)
Pec Assignment Videos(9 total)
Anatomy Critiques: Pecs
How to Draw Breasts(plus assignments)
Breasts Assignment Examples(11 examples)
Anatomy Critiques: Breasts
And this chapter has two study guide eBooks, one for the pecs and another for the breasts.
Repeat this same formula across every muscle including abs, obliques, lower/upper back, neck… you get the picture.
As of this writing Stan has only released the Torso & Arms section. I was gonna wait to write this review until all lessons were done, but I’ve been following long enough to know where I stand on this course.
The lessons are clearly organized and they’re crystal clear. You may need to re-watch certain videos a few times over to really ingrain the concepts.
But this will be the same no matter how you study anatomy. It’s not an easy subject and it will take a really long time. But these video lessons can help you visualize the anatomy which makes it a lot easier to remember.
The Learning Experience
I’m extremely pleased with the teaching style and content of each lesson. Stan breaks down each concept in great detail using a lot of props to explain how & why certain bones/muscles move the way they do.
Each chapter usually starts with two videos: “Anatomy of X” followed by “How to Draw X”.
The anatomy video introduces the subject by explaining its shape, location, attachments, behaviors, and general purpose in the body. These intro videos can be anywhere from 10-20 minutes long so they’re a great deal longer than the YouTube videos.
All of these intro anatomy videos have diagrams, motion graphics, and Stan’s pal Skelly to help explain the concepts.
The “how to draw” videos are more like explainer videos. They still explain the anatomy, but instead of teaching theory they’re teaching practice.
These usually range between 5-10 minutes and most chapters have more than one exercise video. For example the obliques chapter has a video explaining different body types and how to draw obliques for people of different sizes, genders, and shapes.
Some chapters combine the anatomy and “how to draw” videos together(like in the pecs/breasts chapter). These videos usually total about 15 minutes and they always have more content than the free videos.
In fact every video in this course has more content than the free videos.
You can follow along by drawing what Stan does on the screen, or by practicing from model photos which you can get on the Proko website.
Skelly is the 3D animated skeleton used in many of these explainer videos. He’s become a staple of the Proko teaching style and each chapter comes with a 3D model of Skelly that you can move around & study.
I personally haven’t used the 3D models very much. But I can say they work well.
They can be incredibly useful to artists who need to see realistic visuals for both anatomy & motion of the human form.
I like the Skelly design because it’s clear and easy to use. You can study Skelly as a real skeleton or as a robo-skelly like the robo-bean from Proko’s figure drawing fundamentals course.
Stan also created a premium app for iOS & Android devices called the Skelly App.
I have not used the Skelly App so I have no idea if it’s worth the money. You can check out a preview of the app to see the features in action and decide for yourself.
But most of these things you can get in the 3D browser model so if you don’t study from a tablet or smartphone then the app isn’t needed.
Many later exercises cover drawing the anatomy from imagination where Stan demonstrates how to create these muscles from scratch. This is a crucial skill for concept artists, animators, illustrators, or anyone who wants to create stylized artwork.
This is why I constantly recommend the Proko courses. They genuinely are good, but they also teach the right concepts to help young artists learn exactly what they need to create art for the entertainment industry.
And at the very end of each course you’ll learn how to create finely-tuned drawings with shading. For the torso course this includes shading the torso forms along with the upper back and lower back.
The lessons in this course go above and beyond my expectations. They’re lengthy, thorough, and full of information.
You can easily rewatch these lessons a couple dozen times and still pick up new information.
Assets & Video Quality
Every video from Proko comes in high quality HD with downloadable video files.
However the earlier Proko course videos all came in 720p. The anatomy course is the first to come with 1080p HD videos.
Note this means the videos may look huge when downloaded & played on your computer. Stan does let you download all the files locally to watch offline, so if your screen is smaller than the native 1920×1080 you might have to resize the player to fit properly.
This can be a tad annoying and it’s a reason I hope Stan offers the option to pull smaller files in the future.
But can I really complain about the videos being TOO high-def?
Yes I can, but it’s pedantic at best. And if you’re annoyed by the videos being too large for your screen you can always stream them from the Proko dashboard where they’ll be normal sized.
Extra assets include the free PDF e-books with each chapter detailing the anatomy like a cheatsheet. These e-books are generally pretty short, maybe 20-30 pages at most. But you get one for each bone and muscle so there’s a lot to go through!
These e-books are well structured and easy to skim. They work like reference guides so you don’t need to rewatch the videos just to study diagrams of the anatomy. And aside from diagrams the e-books all have sample model photos and finished drawings to demonstrate each section.
Also I mentioned the 3D Skelly model earlier and I do think it’s a handy asset to have.
Even if you never use the model in your studies it’s still a fun tool. Stan put a lot of effort into this anatomy course and it shows that he’s committed to quality content.
The first negative about this course is the price tag.
Personally, I think the price is reasonable. It takes a lot of work to plan these lessons, record them, edit them, and publish them online.
However I also understand that many aspiring artists don’t have much of an education budget. Blowing $200+ on a video course might be second pick to spending $30 on an anatomy book.
But this course delves deeper than most anatomy books. And since it’s video content you can rewatch exercises over and over while drawing along.
If you’re a visual learner then I really think the price tag is worthwhile.
Even if you just get one part of the course you can gauge quality and determine if you’d ever want to buy the rest.
Now some people do complain about Stan’s quirky sense of humor. It leaks into many of these lessons so you’ll get a lot of silly jokes, Skelly animations, and cutaway scenes.
If you don’t like his humor then this will annoy you. I personally didn’t find it obnoxious and it certainly didn’t ruin my studies.
But this anatomy course has far more tomfoolery than the others. It happens frequently enough that you’ll definitely notice.
I would not write off the entire course just because you may not like his humor. Many of these jokes are entertaining! But I’ll be honest, it can get annoying when you’re rewatching videos for the 10th time sitting through the same jokes.
The only other thing I could possibly bitch about is total number of sample exercise videos. I would’ve liked to see a few more in certain chapters like the upper back shading exercises. However there are enough exercises to practice that I can’t really call this a downside.
None of the sample exercises are posted to YouTube so to get them you’ll have to buy the premium course. And considering their exclusivity(plus lengthened videos) I think there’s enough value here to justify the price.
If you have enough cash to get this course then I say do it. Stan clearly has a deep level of anatomy knowledge and it shines through in this series.
I would highly recommend Proko’s anatomy course to a couple types of artists.
First I highly recommend this to beginners who have no knowledge of anatomy. Stan takes his time with each lesson and you’ll get 60+ minutes of video content for each anatomical bone/muscle. It’s practically the perfect newbie’s guide for studying anatomy without a teacher.
Second I recommend this course if you’re already a semi-skilled artist but not super confident with anatomy. Stan goes into great detail so you can build on top of your existing skillset to nail down the human figure.
Really the course is just an exceptionally deep overview of anatomy considering both realist and constructionist points of view.
These lessons can keep you busy for at least a year and probably even longer. And if you have the money then definitely pick up all three together to get the discounted price. If you’re studying on a budget then consider getting one course at a time, or save for a few months to afford the all-in-one discounted rate.
But if you’ve seen improvements in your work from studying Proko’s other courses then you’ll absolutely adore this course. It’s also one of the few video anatomy courses on the Internet so for the quality & price it’s a genuine asset for any artist.
To learn more visit the anatomy course page and check it out. Or if you wanna browse other courses available on Proko you can check out his store to find related videos, HD model photos, and new releases.