‘Anatomy of Facial Expressions’ – Review

Anatomy of Facial Expressions is a new book from Uldis Zarins. You might remember I reviewed his first book, Anatomy for Sculptors, back in 2014. I have since used Anatomy for Sculptors more than any other anatomy book I own because, above all other books, it’s a visual reference guide. Everything is clearly explained with photographs and illustrations, so there is no need to read through a lot of text to get the information you’re looking for.

Anatomy of Facial Expressions follows the same format and the production value has even improved. The photographs are clearer, the illustrations are better, and the addition of CG models, split screens, and overlays take out all the guess-work one often experiences when studying anatomy book illustrations.

I worked for two years as a Facial Animator at EA. During that time I studied Paul Ekman’s Facial Action Coding System (FACS), read Gary Faigin’s The Artist’s Guide to Facial Expression several times and referenced it daily, and studied facial anatomy from a half dozen anatomy books. In my opinion, Anatomy of Facial Expression, is the best facial anatomy resource there is.


This book outlines every muscle and bone of significance to an artist. You will come away with an understanding of what each bone and muscle does, and how it moves. You will understand which muscles are involved in each of the major facial expressions, and how they contribute to the shapes we identify with those expressions as they contract. You will understand how facial anatomy varies with age, sex, and ethnicity. You will understand which muscles contribute to eye movement (something I’ve never seen before in another facial anatomy book). A nice added bonus is the addition of subcutaneous fat to the illustrations (pictured above in yellow) This is a major influence on the shapes and forms of the face, and is often overlooked in facial anatomy resources. The wealth of illustrations (many showing angles I’ve never seen before) and the use of CG overlays will make your understanding of the subject matter crystal clear. Those of you that have also studied FACS will like that every illustration and photo in the book lists the designated FACS codes for quick reference.

Take a sneak peak through the book via this video by ParkaBlogs:

If you buy this book, I don’t personally see the need for any other resource on the subject. The aforementioned book by Faigin would compliment it nicely, but it’s not technically necessary considering how thorough this book is. As with anything, you get what you pay for, and the price tag on this volume might scare a few people away. Let me assure you that it’s worth the $100 price tag.

How to Win a Copy

We’ll be giving away three copies to our readers, one on each of our social media channels (FacebookTwitter, and Instagram) You don’t have to follow us on all three, but you’ll up your chances threefold if you do. Keep your eyes on our social feeds for our announcement. You’ll need to share our giveaway post when it arrives. This giveaway is open to everyone, worldwide. Good luck! 🙂


UPDATE (October 23rd, 2017): Twitter give away is live today! Winner announced end of day (10 pm PST). Follow us and share this post:


UPDATE (October 16th, 2017): Instagram give away is live today! Winner announcedat midnight. Details here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BaUCb4cjVnI

UPDATE (October 9th, 2017): Twitter give away is live today! Winner announced end of day. Follow us and share this post:



3Dtotal Anatomy Reference: Extended Collection

In 2013, 3Dtotal released a set of crowd-funded anatomy resources for artists everywhere. The figures were so popular, that they’re back with additional models to expand the collection. The new set includes male and female planar busts, a new book on head anatomy, and a seriously cool adaptable male figure. Check out the gallery below for more pics. If you’d like to help them fund the extended collection, check their Kickstarter, and help spread the word on social media.

Give Away: Anatomy for 3D Artists

3D Total is back with another outstanding title, Anatomy for 3D Artists: The Essential Guide for CG Professionals. This book is absolutely packed with illustrations and reference material. It’s a complete anatomy resource on a foundation level, covering the entire muscle and skeletal systems for both males and females, as well as the differences in their scale and proportion. There’s also gallery of anatomical studies by top artists to reference when you get stuck or need inspiration. Continue reading Give Away: Anatomy for 3D Artists

Andreas Vesalius’ The Fabrica

A fascinating look into the earliest anatomical references created. Especially considering the wealth of anatomical resources we have at our disposal these days.

Continue reading Andreas Vesalius’ The Fabrica

Anatomy for Sculptors / Human Atlas 360

Anatomy for Sculptors is hands down the best anatomy reference book I have seen. The book was recently Kickstarted by Sandis Kondrats and Uldis Zarins. These men are both incredible artists, and experts in the field of anatomy. With this book, they’ve re-defined anatomy reference, and brought it forward to today’s standards of art instruction, making the subject much more interesting and understandable for today’s digital artists.


The book contains minimal text, and instead focuses on giving you the most comprehensive views of the body, which are clearly labeled, color coded, and illustrated from every possible angle and pose. The book uses overlays to make sure you’re never second guessing the images, and wherever there is a distinction or variation in gender or race, it’s clearly illustrated. Just take a look at the video and images below, and you’ll see, as an artist, you need this book on your shelf.

If that weren’t enough, most of the images seen above, while also included in the book, were pulled from the official website, which is an incredible resource for artists in itself. There you’ll find dozens of images just like these, as well as links to more incredible anatomy resources around the web. The super keen can even purchase plaster casts directly from the site to sharpen their eyes with more focused study.

A book like this is well overdo, as many 3d interactive anatomy resources are already popping up all over the web. Not to be outdone, Sandis has already joined the fray and is currently Kickstarting a new project entitled, “Human Atlas 360.” The rewards of backing this project include a copy of Anatomy for Sculptors, so don’t miss your chance to get a great deal on both of these incredible resources.

More from Anatomy 360

We posted about this last week. When this launches it will be one of, if not the most, comprehensive anatomical resources available to artists. If you’re interested in learning about the process of creating this massive library of images, check out a recent article Anatomy 360 posted entitled, “How Does the Process Work, and What’s Taking So Long?


Lioness Anatomy Sculpture by Gabriele Pennacchioli

Dreamworks artist, Gabriele Pennacchioli, has created a great anatomy resource for those interested in studying large cats. He’s funding the production of a lioness sculpture over at Kickstarter. If you’re interested in supporting his latest project, click here.