Drawing of a fixed human heart, including preserved cardiac vasculature.

Get any photo of a heart from an anatomical atlas or google and you will find images of the real thing. You can draw this yourself.







To begin I would suggest using an outline to copy the shape of the heart- which contains the coronary blood vessels and the major blood vessels going into and out of the heart.

Once you have a picture you can then alter it if that makes it easier using you phone setting to emphasise black and white.

You can also fiddle with the settings to increase brightness, contrast or any other settings that make the picture more appealing to you.

heart outlines : you can use as a trace if you dont fancy measuring

You can see that I have simply made outlines of the major structures. As with all accurate drawings it is essential everything is in place.

Notice its shape. Floppy at the top and firm at the apex.


Stage one: Base layers

First lay down a basic layer in 2H pencil making small circular movements. This part took me about 50 minutes.

You are mostly shading the ventricles at his point.

Leave the atria and the larger vessels alone and white. I can’t emphasise this enough. You can always come back to it later.

The atria and blood vessels are thin enough that they are floppier and whiter and don’t need much shading.

The image at this points looks like something bleached in intense white light

Notice the point of the pencil is super sharp to enable accuracy.

Stage two: The next darkest tone

First up- this is not as in focus as it needs to be, so please read the comments and proceed to the next section if you want

Having laid down the base coat in 2H, start laying down a darker layer in H or B or HB pencil, to accentuate the blood vessels and areas of darker shadow.

The blood vessels seem to originate from between the atria and the ventricle.

In order to ensure realism, it is best to work from the lightest pencil (I’ve used 2H) to darkest pencil (7B) at the end.

If it helps, if you have the image on your phone, or ipad, you can play with the contasts and the shadows in order to identify the lighter areas as you go.


Stage three: And darker still

And darker still. The emphasis of the darkest tones enables 3D shapes to begin forming. Slowly does it. Try and take your time, as if you are doodling in a science class.

Now this was tricky muscle. It wasn’t uniform in texture and if you notice, my pencil lines follow the line of muscle.

The muscle of the ventricles is darker and firmer and you need to use darker and darker pencils. Keeping it in line with the muscle and leave some areas variagated.

Shading the muscle so it looked like a continuum behind the massive white vein slap bang in the middle – or the posterior vein of the left ventricle, was particularly tricky.

The other white vessel, lower down, is the middle cardiac vein, the darker artery behind it is the Posterior interventricular branch of the right coronary artery– to give it its full title. They both sit in a groove called the interventricular groove.



Stage four

This is making sure things are emphatic – looking at the piece and making sure the whites aren’t too white. Making sure the 3D shape is 3D.

The large vein bulges at the bottom right hand corner,[under the vena cava (biggest vessel looks triangular on the atria )] is the coronary sinus– an area that collects the blood from the heart muscle into the atria.

Just neatening those edges of the blood vessles, ensuring that they are the right shape and gently creating any new blood vessels.

Arteries are really dark in this piece

All of those greater blood vessles on the top (pulmonary artery, pulmonary veins, vena cava) seem really floppy and not at all robust- which is down to the nature and structure of their walls.



Finishing touches

Ah. The old hand held camera. Apologies for the wobble here. But taking a break and coming back with fresh eyes allows you to see errors in form and style that you can correct.

This time with a range of pencils up to a 7 B.

Dark pencils give the picture welly- but be careful not to overdo it

I used it to ensure that the blood vessels dissappear into the ventricular muscle in that area of the ventricular groove.

now its your turn…


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