Studying Anatomy? Use 3D Models to Help You Study

Studying Anatomy? Use 3D Models to Help You Study
  • Opening Intro -

    If you are in college, especially one dealing with life sciences, the odds are, you will at some point have to study anatomy.

    And while text books and diagrams provide a level of reference, often times the person will find that such 2D material is rather hard to visualize much less memorize.


By utilizing a 3D anatomy model the student is more capable of memorizing not only the placement of the bone, muscle, etc., but also its functionality within the human body.

Seeing the Body from Different Angles

Perhaps one of the most beneficial features of a 3D anatomy model is the ability to rotate the human form 360 degrees. By having this feature multiple angles can be seen of the body part as it relates to the body as a whole.

For example, depending on the angle in which the person views the deltoid, it may appear as either a triangle or a heart shaped muscle. Furthermore, if the model is staged within the 3D program with customizable lighting the student can see how light and shadow effects the visuals of the body part being studied.

This differs from the 2D material where the body is presented as a static image. In these cases, the student is forced to either view the body from one angle (which is not adequate for establishing the placement and the functionally of that part) or the student has to flip back and forth between diagrams.

Seeing How it Works

Several 3D anatomy models come equipped with animations. These animations allow for the student to not only understand how the body part fits in relationship to the body, but also how that body part functions within the human form. Models may also come equipped, rigged, or with a bone system, though not animated, which will allow the student to puppeteer the human body in various poses. 

Rigging also allows the student to see how the body folds and how the contours of the body play a part on one another. Specifically, when the body model is equipped with muscles which act as real muscles the student can see the bulge of a flex and the strain of an over extended reach.

See the Body in the “Real World”

When studying the human form, it is essential to see how the body works in real life. Obviously, nude studies cannot be performed in public places as there are various laws which shun this. Yet, with a 3D anatomy model, the student is able to place and stage the character in various “Real World” environments.

If the student so chooses, he or she can even simulate interactions between other human models or physical objects. Depending on the program in which you load your 3D character, you may be able to achieve a level of augmented reality. At minimum, a student desiring animations with their 3D model should seek human characters with animations that include a walk cycle, a run cycle, a sit and stand pose, as well as a leisure pose.

Of course, the more animations that you have included with your model, the more apt you are to understand the boundaries and the functionality of the muscle, bone, or other body part which is being studied. By placing these animations within the “Real World” the learning experienced is further enhanced.

Important Considerations When Choosing Your 3D Anatomy Model

When picking your 3D model, there are some fundamental considerations which the student must take. Where there may be an abundance of anatomically correct models available, these models may or may not be proportionally anatomically correct.

If you find that the model you have chosen looks like it belongs in a comic book or a superhero movie, or worse, that your model belongs in chip and dales or striptease, then it is advised that you seek a more proportional model. Try to avoid models that are made from a template human modeling software as these often allow and encourage disproportionate scaling of various muscles and body parts, specifically the breast and genital of the model. 

Additionally, students should seek high polygon models as opposed to low polygon models as they provide more detail and realism. The only acceptation to this is in skeletal models (bone studies). Regardless of whether or not you pick a high polygon or low polygon character, the model must have appropriate texturing applied. If a model has all of the muscles in the right place, yet those muscles are improperly textured and rendered, then it will hinder your studies instead of help.

The No Brainer

It should go without saying that even with an anatomically correct 3D model the student will still have to study the material of their course. The 3D model should be used as an aid to study human anatomy. That being stated, the student should consider coupling the 3D model with various animations, other models, textbooks, diagrams, and other such material in order to get the most out of their human anatomy studies.

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