How to Draw a Rib Cage

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Images of skulls and bones have long been a symbol of death. Consider the “elephant graveyard” in Disney’s The Lion King. Skeletons are common decorations during holidays such as Halloween, and many people consider the appearance of a skeleton to be frightening. Skeletons are also used in a medical and anatomical education context.

The rib cage, as pictured in this drawing guide, is located in the chest or torso of humans and animals. The rib cage protects vital organs, such as the heart and lungs.

Ribs can also be found in literature. For example, the Bible book of Genesis describes a rib being taken from the first man in order to create the first woman.

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Did you know? Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo performed human autopsies, or examinations of a dead body. They did so to improve their drawing skill and understand human anatomy better.

The autopsy, which means “to see for oneself” in Greek, allowed them to understand how the bones and muscles work together to support the human form.

Would you like to draw a rib cage? This simple, step-by-step bone drawing tutorial will show you how. All you will need is a pencil, pen, or marker and a sheet of paper.

If you liked this tutorial, see also the following drawing guides: Sugar Skull, Flaming Skull, and Skeleton.

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Step-by-Step Instructions for Drawing a Rib Cage

How to Draw Rib Cage: Step 1

1. Begin by drawing vertebra, the bones of the spine. Use a series of curved lines to enclose an irregular butterfly-like shape. Beneath this, use curved lines to enclose a drooping “T” shape. Below this, enclose two nearly square shapes. Note how the sides of the squares bend inward. Extend a line from each side of the squares, doubling it back upon itself.

How to Draw Rib Cage: Step 2

2. Enclose an irregular shape beneath the spine, forming the manubrium, or upper portion, of the sternum. Extend a curved line from each of its corners and double it back upon itself. Then, enclose a curved, elongated shape on each side of the sternum. From these shapes, extend pairs of curved lines that attach to the spine. This is the first of the true ribs.

How to Draw Rib Cage: Step 3

3. Use a wavy line to enclose the elongated shape of the body of the sternum. Enclose three elongate shapes on one side of the sternum. These are the costal cartilages that connect the rib bones to the sternum. Then, extend a pair of curved lines from each costal cartilage, looping them to connect to the spine. These ribs should overlap, with lower ribs appearing to pass under higher ribs.

How to Draw Rib Cage: Step 4

4. Enclose costal cartilages on the opposite side. Then, extend a pair of curved lines from each to form the ribs.

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How to Draw Rib Cage: Step 5

5. Extend two wavy lines from the bottom of the sternum. Then, double the shape back upon itself using a series of “U” shaped lines. This forms additional costal cartilage.

How to Draw Rib Cage: Step 6

6. Beginning with the uppermost lobe of cartilage, draw a pair of curved lines to form each rib. Then, draw another pair of lines from the end of each rib to the spine, completing the rib bones and giving the skeleton a three-dimensional appearance.

How to Draw Rib Cage: Step 7

7. Draw the rib bones on the opposite side, first extending pairs of lines from the lobes of the costal cartilage. Then, draw lines connecting each rib to the spine.

How to Draw Rib Cage: Step 8

8. Continue the spine beneath the rib cage. For each vertebra, draw a curved square. Extend curved lines from the sides of the three lowest vertebrae, and double them back upon themselves.

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How to Draw Rib Cage: Step 9

9. Draw pairs of curved lines extending from the spine to form the floating ribs.

How to Draw Rib Cage: Step 10

Color your rib cage. Bones are generally depicted as white or cream in color. Complete your skeleton or draw a skull to match.

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The Complete Rib Cage Drawing Tutorial in One Image

How to Draw Rib Cage

Printable PDF of the Drawing Guide

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