I am a commercial artist and an illustrator in training, after coming across a lot of artistic anatomy books over the years I say honestly that this and all the George Bridgman books are the best available. A couple of reasons for this are 1) his clear and totally accurate drawings and 2) he shows us muscle groups that act together rather than just naming every single muscle and leaving it at that. Also, he uses a very visual teaching method, showing the shapes of the muscle masses that are easy to remember. I would suggest that every beginner start with Mr. Bridgman.
After purchasing too many sub-par reference books on anatomy for artists, I highly recommend the Bridgeman books. This one stresses the hinges and joints of the body and how their bending and twisting movements affect the external shape of a figure. Nobody has studied the figure as long or as intensely as George Bridgeman and it shows in the superb illustrations, many apparantly constructed from memory. For economy of line and accurate sence of under-structure, the illustrations can't be beat. Incidently, "Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing From Life" incorperates much of the above book, along with several others, and is a better buy. (It's also a larger format book!) I also recommend "The Human Figure: An Anatomy for Artists" by David K. Rubins.
Bridgman's The Human Machine is *exceedingly* ambitious in its scope, and could have been exceedingly successful to match, were it not for its *one* pretty obviously glaring problem: these drawings are exceedingly sketchy!
Originally published in 1939, Bridgman passed away in 1943. He was approximately 75 when he made this- possibly a factor in the lack of clarity throughout. If only he had made this at the height of his career(!)- This book is a perfect example of 'what could have been'.
Many people revere this work in spite of all this. It may not compare at 1st glance with the slick, computer-aided & enhanced books of today, but if you're willing to get past the obvious sketchiness here you'll find a veritable gold mine of visual information. Take the overall layout & structure for example. In my opinion, this book's presentation easily rivals that of his more polished & refined work- Constructive Anatomy, which has a more awkward interplay between its words & pictures. The Human Machine moves rapidly & logically, building the figure with simple lines first, then showing how bones & muscles interact with each other & with the figure's simplified outline, to give an impression of the whole figure & its parts, all at once in a few detailed pages. It's this *overall* conception of the human figure that appeals to the many who give this work a chance. Bridgman applies all this to the figure's actions & mechanisms as well- it's not just about bones & muscles here, like so many anatomy books tend to be. And Bridgman's lines, though sketchy here, still tend to be an accurate record of the figure, worthy of study. He *usually* chooses his lines with the precision & beauty we've come to expect. But the overall lack of visual clarity here hurts; leaving this genius idea still somewhat unrealized.
Overall: The basic *point* of Bridgman's Human Machine is to help people to draw figures more convincingly, and even from memory. To a great degree, at least in my opinion, this book still succeeds in a very effective way...
P.S. This book is definitely *not* for beginners! Only *intermediate-level* artists need apply.
Printer and Publisher should be ASHAMED2012/4/24
I purchased this item NEW from Amazon. They need to pull the item down. The publisher should have this product recalled. The broken up pixelated images are partially obscured because they literally transferred to print from an ancient computer or telephone facsimile. The material may have been promising but it is absent in this failed printing. How could you allow ANY drawings to misprint. Less than 1/8 of the illustrations printed properly. This is sloppy plate preparation. The images are supposed to be everything! I was shocked. Most of the pages that were supposed to be covered in sketches are literally blank! Page after page is blank with a notation referencing nothing. If you are looking for illustrated examples do not purchase. This was an absolute waste of time and money.
Still one of the best.2001/1/8
Even though Bridgman's anatomy books have been around for a while, I haven't seen anything better yet. This and his other books helped me tremendously. Keep in mind that these series are not a step by step instructions, they are schematics that you must study and draw at every possible angle and preferably use it as a reference for real figure drawing classes. The illustrations are somewhat badly printed and hard to make out at times but it's still very helpful especially for the price of these books. Four stars because of poor print quality.