If you wish to follow the classical approach, when drawing figures, as well as if you only want to put a few good basis to set up your own style, a good book may help you.
There are actually hundreds of good books, but the best thing, as always, is to copy all great masters’s drawings (and paintings, and sculptures too, of course!). One of my favourite books is a small collection of drawings by Michelangelo Buonarroti (edited by Dover). A very cheap, yet very useful resource.
So copy as much as you can from all masters of Renaissance, from all greek and roman ancient sculptures, from the Pre-raphaelites and so on.
A good knowledge of human anatomy is also essential even if, when you’re drawing, you may want to force proportions or even choose to ignore them, depending on your own style. In order to deep in the study of bones and muscles, the best choice would be a medical book (e.g. I bought “Locomotor System” by Werner Platzer - it’s perfect!) About ‘classical’ art anatomy, I love the Albinus on Anatomy, and also Art Anatomy by William Rimmer and An atlas of anatomy for artists by Fritz Schider. There is another popular (and beautiful) book: Anatomy for the artists by Jeno Barcsay, but the approach is much less classical. It’s on my wishlist, but I still haven’t it. :) If you want to search on Amazon, just put the author’s name on the search box and you will find all books on top of the list (just to have an idea of all prices)
William Rimmer - Art Anatomy
When I was a student I faced with the astonishing works of this talented artist: painter, sculptor, art anatomist, born in Liverpool in 1816 but very soon moved to Boston, so we can consider him a genuine American artist.
Nonethless, his works recall echoes of Michelangelo (particularly anatomy drawings, so incredibly detailed and even exaggerated in their proportions, as if he was looking for a kind of super-human body), William Blake (in his visionary paintings in which heroic characters act dramatically) and also some 18th-century landscape painters (and I must say that I love their lights and colours).
William Rimmer’s Art Anatomy is a must have for all those who would like to know how to learn art anatomy and do well in it. When I first read it I felt a bit discouraged: it’s so detailed, even maniacal, sometimes figures look disproportionate (but don’t let it deceive you: it’s just a matter of style), but is one of the best sketchbook I ever saw. I couldn’t do without it.
William Rimmer is one of the many wrongfully ignored artists, born too close to the bursting wave of Impressionists and modern art movements.
But, let me tell you, it’s worth to consider his works a bit more and, if you are american, be proud of him!