How to Draw the Upper Back Muscles – Anatomy and Motion

How to Draw the Upper Back Muscles – Anatomy and Motion

Hey, this is Stan Prokopenko with Proko. It’s
time for our last two back muscles, the trapezius and rhomboideus. Trapezius From the front it looks like a trapezoid shape,
which is how it got the name trapezius. From the back, however, it looks more like a kite
or a spinning top. Remember learning about the shoulder girdle
way back in the bone lessons? I hope so, because you’ll need to be familiar
with the scapula and clavicle for today’s lesson. As you can see, the trapezius originates along
the path of spine and inserts along the top of the shoulder girdle. That means it attaches
to the spine of the scapula, the acromion process, and the clavicles. You can probably
guess what it does, right? Exactly! The trapezius moves the shoulders
for things like shrugging or, well, anything with your shoulders, really. The trapezius doesn’t just raise your shoulders.
It anchors above and below the shoulder blades, so it pulls the scapula closer to the spine
and helps lower it too. A good indicator of the function is the direction
of the muscle fibers. As you can see, the fibers of the trapezius pull in many different
directions. It’s a pretty complicated muscle. Let’s simplify
it a bit by splitting it into a diamond shaped tendon in the middle and 3 distinct portions
around it – upper, middle, and lower portions. Let’s look at them in-depth. Upper Portion The upper portion is that trapezoid shape
visible from the front of the body. It originates from the base of the skull, along the nuchal
ligament and the 7th cervical vertebra, which is that bony landmark on the back of your
neck. However, the muscle fibers don’t reach all the way to the midline. They attach to
a flat, diamond-shaped tendon which is centered around the 7th cervical vertebra. The upper
portion of the trapezius attaches to the top half of this diamond shape. The fibers flow downward and laterally to
insert on the lateral third of the clavicles, as well as the acromion process. Sometimes
the upper portion will also insert to a small part of the spine of the scapula. You can see here how the fibers twist around
to insert on the clavicle in the front. And again in a front view. The function of the upper portion is to elevate
the scapula. But, if the scapulas are fixed, then the trapezius moves the head. When one
side flexes, it tilts the head side ways. When both sides flex together, they flex the
neck to bring the head back. Middle Portion The middle portion continues where the upper
portion left off. It originates along the spine from T1 to T5, and reaches across the
back to insert on the top plane of the spine of scapula. The muscle fibers attach to the
bottom half of that diamond-shaped tendon. On a muscular or lean person the insertion
along the scapula is quite dramatic… Well, maybe not THAT dramatic. The muscle ends abruptly, so it bulges out above the insertion and clearly outlines the spine of the scapula. It’s one
of the most recognizable features of the trapezius. The muscle fibers of the middle portion are
pulling more horizontally, from the spine out to the scapula. So, when this portion
is flexed it retracts the scapula inward, pulling it toward the spine. Lower Portion The lower portion is the “tail” of the trapezius.
It originates along the spine from T6 to T12, which is the lowest thoracic vertebra. The
fibers go upward laterally to insert on the spine of the scapula again, but this time
along the bottom edge. There’s a triangular tendon here that wraps
over the supraspinatus. The muscle fibers attach in an arc, so on the surface the muscle
has a sharp C curve here. It almost looks like someone removed a chunk with an ice cream
scoop. There’s another triangular tendon at the bottom
of the tail. Notice the “w” shape at the bottom of the tail? Each side of the trapezius will
have it’s own tail, since it’s the muscle part that bulges on the surface. Even though
the tendon attaches all the way at T12, visually on the surface, it will appear to end earlier. When flexed, this lower portion will pull
the scapula downward, to lower the shoulder. Rhomboid Like the trapezius, the rhomboideus aka “rhomboid”
is named after its shape. Unlike the trapezius, the rhomboid is very simple. Woohoo! It’s
layered under the trapezius, so its form is softened. However, the rhomboid is thick enough
that it shows through on the surface, so we definitely need to study it. Let’s take a
look. It originates on the spine, from the 4th or
5th thoracic to the 7th cervical and also on the nuchal ligament for the distance of
one more vertebra. It reaches downward diagonally to insert on the medial edge of the scapula.
You can see its rhombus-like shape. So, notice how its direction of pull in this
area is perpendicular of the trapezius. The trapezius pulls this way, and the rhomboid
pulls this way. This crossing of the muscles can create some complexity on the surface
and changes the way it looks depending in the articulation of the pose. But knowing
how to track the muscles from origin to insertion will help us dissect what we’re seeing. The rhomboid works with the upper portion
of the trapezius to elevate the scapula, for the shrugging motion. It also medially rotates
the scapula and hugs it tight against the rib cage. Not that kind of hugging. But mainly,
the rhomboid retracts the scapula pulling it back toward the spine. That’s a lot of
responsibility for a muscle most people don’t know about. Maybe that’s why rhomboids can
get really thick. Man, my rhomboids are so swole. We’ll learn about the forms in the next lesson,
as I show you how to draw the upper back. See you next time! So, we have a premium section for students
that want to learn more. The premium section has extended lessons with more information
about the topic. It also has additional drawing demonstrations. If you do the assignments
for each lesson, these demos serve as the answers for the assignment, so you can check
your work. There’s an ebook version of each lesson that you can download as a PDF. Print
them out or keep them on your device so you can quickly review the lessons. And finally
the Premium section has 3d models that you can spin around, study, and draw from any
angle. If you don’t want your drawings to look like this, go to If you like this video, don’t be all selfish,
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44 Replies to “How to Draw the Upper Back Muscles – Anatomy and Motion”

  1. Stan, could you please, whenever possible, show how some different muscle groups overlap and work together? Like, I felt the need of seeing the scapular muscles when you said that the trapezius overlapped the supra spinatus.
    Anyway, great video as always, and super punny!

  2. You are a wonderful teacher and funny 🙂 .. working hard on your videos you deserve the best, well done

  3. Can I ask if you have used brown packing paper to draw on? kraft paper and the like. I just can't seem to find cheap paper to practice on that is a bit smoother than printer paper. Thanks for the videos.

  4. I am just a teenager who likes drawing anime like drawings, but I can't help but feel I really need to practice this stuff…

  5. The triangular tendon of the lower portion wraps over supraspinatus or over the corner of the posterior deltoid head? it does not seem clear to me.

  6. So Proko, you have 1.3M subscribers. Yet, many of your videos has less than 100K views.

    That don't make no sense!

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