The pelvis is one of the most often misunderstood structures in the figure drawings of beginner artists. Much of this confusion stems from the fact that several of the structures of the pelvis are not visible on the surface. They lie deep, covered by the large muscles of the hip and buttock. In spite of the fact that we can’t readily see its form, the pelvis is one of the most important structures to understand when we endeavour to represent the figure. Our understanding, or lack thereof, of this key structure can make or break a figure drawing at its core. In our journal post today we will discuss a few key ideas useful to understanding and representing the pelvis.
As we can see from these famed illustrations by Bernhard Albinus, much of the pelvis lies hidden under the surface of the form. Luckily for us a few structures make their way to the surface. These landmarks form two ‘pelvic triangles’. The one on the front is formed by the two symmetrical ASIS and the pubic synthesis below. On the back the two PSIS (usually seen as two dimples but occasionally as two bumps) and the tip of the sacrum form a triangle. These ‘pelvic triangles’ are the key idea that will be our guiding light when puzzling out the pelvis. Through proper observation of these triangles, all of the elements important to a properly structured pelvis can be implied. Special attention should be paid to making sure the centre point of each respective triangle lies in the centre between the two ASIS or PSIS respectively. Students should also make sure to carefully observe the angle between the ASIS/PSIS as this is the key piece of information that will communicate the tilt of the pelvis, an absolutely essential element of the gesture of any pose.
Another core concept to understand about the pelvis is that it is a fundamentally box-like structure and any other shape design or muscular structure we find around the pelvis must echo this core design. Due to this, understanding the conceptual box of the pelvis is key to mastering this region, as seen in the four beautiful interpretations of the pelvis above. This concept is always well understood and communicated in masterworks. Students would gain a lot from drawing this conceptual box of the pelvis next to masterworks or their own drawings to better grasp this fundamental idea.
As a final note, observe how clearly these structural triangles are communicated on these brilliantly executed Spanish academic nudes. Also note how neatly these triangles fit within the larger structure of the box of each pelvis and the clear tilts communicated in each. These two simple ideas combined take us a long way towards understanding the pelvis in our work and the student wastes no time in giving them the attention they deserve.
By Charlie Pickard.