Drawing the Neck and Shoulders, anatomy and structure of the neck, for the portrait artist..


Neck & Shoulders

Anatomy - neck

A big stumbling block for some portrait artists is trying to figure out the neck and shoulders. Sure, they can draw the face all right, but when it comes to the neck, they're stumped. But it's actually quite simple.


Coming from behind the ear, and going down to the "pit" (middle) of the neck is a large muscle called the Sterno Mastoid. You can see it highlighted in pale blue on the illustrations above and below. (Actually, you'll see two muscles highlighted in blue, one sort of "peeks out" behind the other.) No matter how a person's neck is turned, this muscle will follow—it'll always be start from behind the ear, and attach to the pit of the neck. Check your own neck in the mirror. Feel your neck, and see if you can find the muscle. It's the most prominent muscle on the neck.

Highlighted in pink is the Clavicle. It is the "collar bone." It always attaches to the pit of the neck (the Sterno Mastoid attaches to it in the center) and it stops at the top of the arm—the edge of the shoulder.

The muscle highlighted in green is the Trapezius. Its name is easy to remember, because it is named after the trapezoid. It is a large muscle on the upper back and back of the neck. You'll see part of it from the front, and side.

Highlighted in yellow you'll see the top of the Deltoid. It's a large muscle that attaches to the Clavicle, (collar bone) and extends down the arm. The Clavicle always attaches to the deltoid. When you lift your arm above your head, the Clavicle lifts up too, because it's attached to the arm, and the deltoid. Rotate your arm around, and watch the Clavicle move around too!

The area highlighted with a brownish color is where the "Adam's Apple" is. It is more prominent in men than in women.

These muscles and bones all line up. They are not hard to remember to draw correctly. And if you ever get confused, just look at your own neck, "collar bone" and deltoid muscle!


anatomy of neck and shoulders
The neck and shoulder illustrations, without the muscles highlighted.(Click on image to see larger version.)

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