His hands on my ribcage
 I’m starting my new drawing on this beautiful floating colors sheet. I want it to have a looser style than my usual, showing some aspects of the underlying anatomy with lots of detail, but just barely indicating others.  I want the focus to be on the dynamics of twisting, the flow of energy, the pressure of gravity. The challenge, as I add the figurative imagery, will be to retain the simple and beautiful dynamics of the floating colors.
 In Photoshop, I layer together a composite image to help me set up the anatomy for the new piece.  First, a set of images from my 3D CT scan.  In the lumbar area, I’ve cropped away the most posterior part of the vertebrae, the spinous processes, to show the spinal canal: the space for the spinal cord.  I usually try to show more dynamic poses in my drawings, but for this one I’ve chosen the straightforward posterior view. It’s the view most often shown in anatomical source materials, and this drawing is going to be so complicated and multi-layered that I’ll really need to rely on those references.
 I use this earlier drawing as my reference for the spinal cord and the starting points for the branching spinal nerves.
 Next, I make a drawing that shows the details of the spinal cord and nerves in the thoracic area. I know that thoracic spinal nerves follow the curves of the ribs, but I’ve never drawn mine before, and I need to really understand the anatomy so I’ll know what I’m doing when I work on the final drawing.
 I decided to make one more study to work out how the rotational dynamics of my spine would affect the spinal cord and emerging nerves. My spine and ribcage rotate toward the back on the right side in the thoracic area (where the ribs attach), and on the left side in the lumbar area. So the branching spinal nerves must also be slightly rotated, and as they branch off from the cord will be more visible on one side, and more hidden on the other. I want to get it right because I care about being accurate and really want to understand what’s going on – but especially because it will make my drawing more dynamic and alive. This photo shows the new piece on my drawing board, surrounded by source materials from my 3D scan and anatomy books, and a model of the rotating spinal cord made with blue poster-hanging putty.
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