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The Structure of Man


dvdsplash2-2.jpgWhen creating a 3D model or scene its often a good idea to begin with a sketch in 2D. Meaning pencil and paper. But perhaps you are lacking in drawing skills. Have no fear! Blendernation is here!

Or rather Riven Phoenix is here, the author of this excellent video series. When it comes to the human body this is perhaps the greatest video instructional series that I have ever seen. Currently at an incredible 43 hours worth of video (all done over the shoulder) the Structure of Man is a series of videos to teach how to draw an anatomically correct man. It covers down to the skeleton and muscles. Even going into the actual technique on how to draw the shapes. Not just the usual "this is what this looks like". But how to actually get the proper look and the technique behind it. There is even a nice walkthrough on creating The Rise of Frakenstein. And whats great is that its seems that most of it is viewable through Youtube.

And if you have a few dollars to spare, support the author Riven Phoenix by purchasing the 5 DVD set for a reasonable $25. Having watched just a few of them so far I'm definetly going to purchase the set. At $25 its quite a bargain.

And the link again is: Structure of Man

I'm off to watch some more of the videos now. And while you are visiting the site, make sure to check out Riven Phoenix's portfolio too.


  1. Thats amazing! And 25$ is VERY reasonable for a 5 DVD set, just compare that to a gnomon workshop DVD! I just ordered a set myself, can't wait to get it :)

  2. I had this on my desk for a couple of weeks now and I must say its a bargain, it truly is.
    The content is so good that you just want to view it times and times again.

    The only thing I would like to have in those DVDs was bigger videos, higher resolution, but hey, I can see the details even at the resolution it was recorded and with some help from riven's voice you get everything down right.

    -- Rui --

  3. well i have to say video tutorials are good but personaly i think this is not the proper way of learning to draw because its very unflexible. i made the experience that after a week or two you often forget some minor detail exspecialy in the beginning and you say"wait, how was the torso supose to be?" and then you search in your book and find the site with the needed content very quick.
    a 43 hour tutorial is not like this and it does not replace a good anatomy book.
    BUT this video tutorial is awsome if you can most of the basics and just want influences in your style and of cause its very entertaining.
    To make it short, in the end if you have never drawn an anatomicly correct human then this 43 hours are mostly a big waste time because a book gives you much faster and more clearer view of anatomic drawing but if you can already see the formes in a human body and lay them down on a paper then this tutorial could indeed be very helpful to improve your drawing style exspecialy if you have some issues with drawing a human and parts of it just dont want to look right

  4. @Kenden
    "Do those DVDs play in Europe (Zone 2)?"

    Its data-DVDs

    From the site:
    "To view the videos on DVD, you need a PC and a DVD drive. You will need Microsoft’s Windows Media player which you can download from their site."

  5. i have seen some of these videos on google and i must say they are just as good as those gnome dvds and 43 hours worth of video for half the price of thiers, this is good nes.

  6. I recommend you some of Giovanni Civardi books

    -Drawing The Female Nude
    -Drawing Human Anatomy
    -Drawing the Human Body
    -Drawing the Male Nude
    -Drawing Hands and Feet
    -Giovanni Civardi's Complete Guide to Drawing

    These are advanced ones, and if you want to learn from these you have to study (they are not recommended for everyone). This is the first serious step one can take towards human figures.

  7. Really a book on how to draw anatomy would not be the best to accompany something such as this. And I don't think copying his technique is the idea. The whole DVD series seems to be more focused on how you CAN draw anatomy from memory. And is meant as a guide towards your own style and creativity. Along with a few points on how to get certain looks. Anyway, I recommend Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist, by Stephen Rogers Peck, its been my resource for years. And nothing since has seemed as good. Its full of some great textual descriptions, and some may find it negative that it uses a lot of medical terminology. But it does what it needs to do. Plus, its pretty cheap now, you can get a copy for $15.

  8. I've watched a few of his videos, and I must say he's really good at doing it, he just takes the fact how people invent things and used that to let your draw a human.

    For example, a human always has to find a technical solution to something to figure out how it works, The best thing of this is, experimenting and invent it yourself, so as he says: the brain thinks you invented it so basicly the 2nd try it's trying to master it.

    The first video shows this really well, draw a line, find a central point, divide and find a logic way of how a human would look like and base that on technical facts. Divide the line in parts, make some rules of drawing your own human, find the logic and the 2nd try will go almost automaticly. The same technic is used by artists drawing cartoons over and over again. Like you can base the cartoon Tweety and Micky Mouse on circles and easely redraw it millions of times without a huge difference.

    The same technic is also used for modeling, hunderds of people learned themself to start off with a box, plane or sphere to model a character in 3D, and basicly the first few steps are always the same because you made your own rules.

    I think I keep an eye on him as well I'm intrested in buying those videos, looks awesome and actually the few videos on his website made me already draw something quite decent.

  9. I had a look at some of the videos a while ago and - although they are good - I think it is better to learn how to SEE correctly. Based on my scant view of some of the lessons, I had the impression that he tries to teach one certain rules/proportions that one can use to draw the human figure. I think it's good to gain that knowledge, but one must not get stuck there.

    Nothing beats actually sitting down and drawing a human figure: preferable from life, or second prize from a photograph. Thats when you learn to SEE, and the proportions start being burnt into your mind.

    I like using proportions if I have to draw a human figure without reference material - or for picking up errors in my drawings.

    PS: I'm not slamming the DVDs, I am considering buying a set myself.

  10. Just wanted to let you know that Riven Phoenix has updated his blog and now only the first 20 videos are available at YouTube. Also, the price for the DVD has been updated to $35 instead of the $25. It seems that the publicity that Riven has gotten thanks to this post has gone over his head. IMHO, it's a shame because I was considering buying the DVD, but after this, I just don't think so (not because I can't afford the extra $10, but because I think it was rude of him to take advantage of the situation the way he did).

    - Jos -

  11. @Jos:
    Dang...I just checked and you're right. That's a pretty sloppy business move IMO. Oh well, I guess if you didn't see the hat trick it wouldn't bother you so much.

  12. Actually its not that uncommon practice to raise the price when business is booming. Its common business model to increase profits and decrease purchases. My wife and I do that in our businesses. If things get going to much, rather than not allowing more business, we just increase the price temporarily. Taking the videos down is something I personally think was a poor choice, but they are his and its his right to take them down. Oh well. Still even at $35 its a great deal.

  13. I am really sorry about the inconvenience this has caused many of you and I hope you will understand the 'The Structure of Man' videos are the intellectual property of AlienThink and the videos were for a 3 month free preview period on YouTube as it was stated on the blog. AlienThink has started to market the videos and spending thousands of dollars so I am sure you do understand as to why they feel all the videos cannot be all online. The change was made last night on the blog. The main reasons the DVD’s are now $35 is because to help support the Advertising campaigns. I cannot thank all of you enough for the support you have shown on this project and to me. I wish the very best for all you in your life and in your careers.

  14. Hi Riven, glad to hear from you and see that you read BlenderNation too.

    The videos are great, I have the set right next to me.
    This post of yours really clears any doubts about the change, great of you to write it down.

    -- Rui --

  15. The truth is - , Riven Phoenix, and Junaid Khan are one and the same...

    An amazingly talented and creative individual.

  16. I've recently purchased these dvds from Riven. It's a wonderful learning tool in understanding human anatomy and is a great asset to your drawing.

    I agree that you should not focus solely on his methods and style, but obviously he intended this to be a form of guidance for all drawers and for people to pick up useful bits of information throughout the series and not absorb everything. ie. absorb what you would find useful.

    Kreon: I can see you your point, but I'm sure in time you would know where to look for certain problems (if you have any) as he has obviously catergorised this whole set in parts and structure and is a very well organised series.

  17. I just recently purchased these dvd's and I am a professional graphic artist/ illustrator even at $45 dollars $50 with shipping I still find this a good bargain. Compared to Gnomon and some of the others out there.

    Even professionals need refresher courses and new ways of thinking which is my primary reason for purchasing. Needless to say the DVD's are no magic bullet you still have to work and I know from many years of experience:

    NOTHING beats life drawing through observation and practice, practice, practice. Riven is just giving you some fundamentals. You just need to learn when and how to use them. I will also recommend getting a good anatomy book which can easily run you about $50 to a $100 I know I have several. This will allow you to familiarize your self with the human anatomy and re-enforce some of the things that he talks about in the videos.
    As mentioned by a number of people above.

    I can draw rather well but I still like taking classes and learning different approaches to add to my drawing skillz.

  18. I have watched this entire series and I have to say that the production value is so low that I almost consider it insulting to me as a paying customer. While there is substantial anatomical knowledge to be gained from these videos Riven is terrible at explaining concepts and furthermore in speaking in general. He'll too often digress into incomprehensible strains of "divide this here, then - wait divide, divide, divide, then this here, divide." He continuously loses his place, and seems unable to use clear or concise language at any point during the lectures. The misuse of English in these videos is staggering: "and now we automatically get the head" or "this is mathematically perfect" abound.

    He additionally seems to be recording the videos from a pad of paper on the keyboard of his laptop (perhaps using his webcam turned downwards). The lighting is very poor and his cell phone even goes off in one point in the videos. The immense time that these videos occupy is not a testament to his wealth of knowledge but to his copious rehashing, babbling, and stammering.

    If you expect people to pay for these DVDs as I unfortunately did, you need to edit, write out what you plan on saying, and proofread. Buy a decent camera and work in decent lighting. I recommend that anyone considering purchasing these dvd's to think again or at least buy a stress ball and forget as much of proper English as you can.

  19. Matthias Lehnen on

    Well, i think that these video lessons are really, really good. Ok, the lighting is bad and riven didn't practice his phrases before recording the vid, but still, they gave me a much better understanding of the human body. i am still a trillion times worse than him but i've made progress and thanks to these videos, i have been drawing almost every day lately.

  20. The valid quality issue mentioned by Joshua is overshadowed by Mr. Phoenix's deep understanding of anatomical structure, his insight into how he acquired it, and the ability to retrace his steps and share his personal journey with others. The Structure of Man is an excellent supplement to any useful anatomy text, and it prepares us to understand what we're seeing when drawing from life.

    To comment on AnyMation's post, renowned anatomy teacher Robert Beverly Hale stressed the adoption of a set of standard proportions to see how a living model differs from them. Without this personal standard, similar to what Mr. Phoenix describes as "invention," we're only copying the model in the life class without understanding what we're actually seeing. Real learning takes place only if it can be related to something already known and understood.

  21. jubjubachubchub on

    I ordered both The structure of Man and Sketchbook. What a disappointment. And they are $45 dollars for the structure of man, and $25 for Sketchbook. He also charges $5 dollars extra each for shipping, but then stuffs them all into on envelope that only cost him $3 to ship.

    First of all, the quality is that of basement video with heavy compression and cheap stick on labels. There are 5 dvds in structure of man, but the actual content ranges from a total of 400mg to just over 1 gig per disk. Basically all of the info would really fit on 2 disc. Some of the files dont even work, and some have the video frame rate less than what is needed for viewable video, looking more like flip book animation. I at least hoped the content would make up for the amature production, but since I cant view much of it, I will never know. Also, dont let the DVD format fool you. They are all WMV files and there are no menu's or dvd structure to them. They wont play on most home dvd players. You need your pc and windows media player. DVD is just the optical disk he decided to store the files on. He could have done the same thing with cds. It would just take a lot more of them. I found that a little deceptive too.

    I've attempted to email about the problems of the non working files, but never receive a response. I also notice that places like YouTube where he shills his dvds, have comments disabled. Im assuming that I am not alone in being disappointed.

    Over all, I paid $79 with shipping and handling, and I basically have coasters unless I can figure out how to view the rest of the videos. But constant file unrecognizable and file corrupt error messages do not leave me very encouraged. And Yes, I have the latest updates and version for Media Player.

    I really had high hopes for both of these DVDs.

  22. It is very, very important to copy the disks to your hard drive before watching them, as otherwise you get something "looking more like flip book animation". Copying them can be a pain, as sometimes you get a cycle error.

    To be honest the production value of the video is very poor, but the anatomy teaching is good.

  23. To the guy who bought the DVD's and some of the files aren't working properly I'd suggest you to get the pirate videos off some website, just do a simple google search "the structure of man rapidshare" and you will get what you want.
    All the videos are available for's illegal stuff, I know,,,,but since you already paid for it,,,you're not doing anything bad.

  24. I was impressed by these lessons. Every morning I get up, prepare for work and eat breakfast (or I’d be late), and sit down to a lesson for about half an hour.

    I’m not sure why some people are complaining about the price at $45., which I paid. The books, videos and DVDs that I bought over the last two years (some of them really good) add up to literally thousands of dollars but they have not inspired me to get up in the morning and practice as much as these DVDs.

    Who cares about a few stutters, miss-pronunciations, and 'incorrect' grammar (if there is such a thing – it’s called descriptive as opposed prescriptive language in the academic world) if the desired information is communicated? The guy never professed to be a grammar teacher; and, although he says “divide, divide...divide”, I understood exactly what he meant (divide the vertical line in half from the mid point where the horizontal line crosses the vertical line, next divide that in half, of course in the lower quadrant, then find the mid point between the second and third divisions and so on – how pedantic!), because he demonstrates (or is it illustrates?) what he is saying and because I have been following the lessons. Sure, I become frustrated sometimes and have to watch a segment more than once - the good thing about owning the lessons - but that is because the material is so new to me. Nevertheless, once you get it you get it.

    I really think these lessons are amongst the best that I’ve had and I've not finished the first DVD yet. Indeed, I bought a second set for my twelve year old nephew.

  25. lutsch m. schwanz on

    To me the whole package ain't nothing but a joke. It starts with the nasty video quality and ends with the ridiculous price. I normally do never leave comments like these, but if you check his material closley on youtube, you might find out what makes me angry about this. He moves the pencil, and it seems like a kind of magic, because not one, but even three lines appear. He seems to be able to draw things in seconds, while skilled artists would probably need effectivley more time, to do the same in the presented precision. Finally I would assume he possibly paints on a simple monitor. That would also explain the worst video quality as well! How ever, I wouldn't spend a shit on something like that... Just read other comments. I'm not the only one, thinking this way..

  26. lutsch m. schwanz on

    To me the whole package ain't nothing but a joke. It starts with the nasty video quality and ends with the ridiculous price. I normally do never leave comments like these, but if you check his material closley on youtube, you might find out what makes me angry about this. He moves the pencil, and it seems like a kind of magic, because not one, but even three lines appear. He seems to be able to draw things in seconds, while skilled artists would probably need effectivley more time, to do the same in the presented precision. Finally I would assume he possibly paints on a simple monitor. That would also explain the worst video quality as well! How ever, I wouldn't spend a shit on something like that... Just read other comments. I'm not the only one, thinking this way..

  27. The structure of man is definitely one simple, easy explained and
    very handy collection of videos for anyone willing to learn
    how to "draw the human figure from your mind"
    I've found it quite useful because I didn't have any
    previous experience at the time I purchased it,
    and Riven Phoenix teaches every lesson using
    a very simple language, which is very suitable
    for beginners like myself.
    After a year of getting the collection I'm proud
    to say that I am now able to draw realistic
    human sketches in a few minutes, and yes
    the video quality is bad,,,but it is still
    a lot better than any other drawing training
    videos out there, such as the Vilppu's series
    so yea, it's worth the money. I totally
    do not regret having purchased it.

  28. The set is amazing. Stop complaining about quality! Im taking a drawing class now in college and the 1000 dollar set of vids we watch there has HORRID quality. like from the 1920s camcorder bad. Its whats on the disk that matter.

    I prefer the disk format cuz i can save them on my pc without having to download dvd ripping software. i can even copy it easy to my ipod. or bring it in for art club and watch it on the projecter from the pc.

    Higher quality and fancy menus dosnt make u a better artist by the way.

    And im sorry for my horrid typing skills and butching of the english language.

  29. This set is truly amazing and completely worth the price. Quality isn't really an issue because the content in this set outmatches the lessons I'm paying far more for in college. I think this is a great starting point . As those who have already mentioned, the set isn't a substitute for experience and in-depth discovery and observation. Instead, I see it as a supplement.

  30. I want to thank all of you again so much for supporting my course. Many changes have taken place since the first version of the course was released 4 years ago. The new version of the course is now in full HD and spans 96 hours. Every lesson was done from scratch. Unfortunately due to the HD size 1280 x 720 I had to split the course into six parts since it is too big. We have to do this because of the massive size of the course and all the costs involved in running any kind of internet business. As you all know the internet is not free, it always cost money on both ends. I have still kept the price as low as possible to cover my end of not going out of business. You will not find any course this big in HD that spans 96 hours on figure drawing where it is so successful at the same time for so many people. Also I have done away with DVD's to control costs as this course is too big to fit on them now. DVDs are too much trouble for this massive course and too expensive. It is much better to download and back it up as when you download, all videos always work. Anyone who is having any issues with their computers not being able to play the HD video have and should always contact me, most of these playback issues are easy to solve. I have only about 5 people so far who had any issues with the HD videos and they were all resolved with using the right codec and windows media player.

    As for the old course all the videos did work. The problem some of you had reported has to do with many types of computer issues that people were having. Some people were trying to play the videos from the DVDs and this is not always going to work right because they were not movie DVDs. Your DVD drive cannot spin fast enough to keep up with compress video files. Many of you had already contacted me about these issues and I had addressed them.

    It was heartbreaking to get emails from so many people about the piracy issue. Imagine you worked day and night on something to only have it stolen by so many people. This really did hurt me a lot to the point of depression, I don't know how else to say it, it really sucks. I am not a big company just an art teacher trying to make living from what I always wanted to do.

    I am not using any kind of screen to draw the illustrations, these are all done in real time. If you are familiar with many Artists who have been drawing for many years thousands of figure drawings you will see that it just becomes a natural process. Its all about becoming very familiar with the human figure and what you can make your mind do as proven in the course. If you want to see other artists do this you can visit an art convention and meet lets say for example Jim Lee. Keep in mind drawing processes are always going to be different for each person. It is not possible for me to draw just like you.

    On the question of shipping DVDs for the old version of the course in a cardboard box is to do with costs again. When you add a real plastic DVD box it adds too much weight to the postage.. 5 or 10 DVDs adds a lot of weight and that plastic box is big, which means I would have to make you pay for a larger cardboard box. I worked very hard to only charge $5 and most of the time paid out of pocket extra postage. Yes, you do have to pay for postage and handling. But not to worry as the HD version is download only.

    Still to this day nothing has gone to my head. I am not famous nor do I want to be. Only in one video do you see my face and that is only on the website where I put on a cap. I want to teach and be my best at it only. I will never charge you as much money as I can for this 96 hours of training, only enough to cover costs because I really cannot go out of business. This course is not free though. What ever little money I make from this massive course all goes to putting food on the table for my family as I am disabled and my wife has been sick for over 12 years. I still live in an apartment and drive a 10 year old broken down car with 100,000 miles on it. I really wish I could stop the piracy. I am not after money with my art, I am after your brain.

  31. Wow, I think there were some serious trolling going on here. I think it's okay if people have their own opinions, but I think a few of these "complaints" are trolls. That guy Damián has the exact same profile as Lucas. D, which is strange. And this lutsch m. schwanz posted the same post twice, with the exception of a link. And to promote piracy, especially at a respectable place like BlenderNation, is just a very low thing to do. There's no honor with people like that. I sure hope you don't take those to heart, Riven. I've heard great things about your course from several people, and as soon as I am able, I want this course. I've spent hundreds of dollars on books, and though helpful as they may be, sometimes it's just much more helpful to see an artist DO the things as they explain it. From what samples I have seen on your website, your teaching was great! I certainty hope some of these people do not break your spirit. People can be plain mean, and very inconsiderate. And you taking the time to address these "issues" shows that you're not just trying to rip people off or anything, not that I have much reason to even believe them, given their obnoxious behavior. Anyways, I hope this was a breath of fresh air for you.

    - Brian L.

  32. I bought this course about 2 years ago and i think it was one of the best investments i ever did. Not only because it is an excellent course but because it really got me into drawing and i am very thankfull for that. It had prooven to me that if i draw a something every day i can actually become damn good at drawing. At thats what i did.

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