Learn by Colouring

[Yes, that is how I spell “colour”.]

It takes a lot for me to sing praises to a textbook.

It also takes a lot to get me to study anatomy. Anatomy usually contributes a neglible amount to our final marks.

As it turns out, that our spot-test for Musculoskeletal System contributes 50% to the pre-clinical mark was just the push I needed.

I hate anatomy – which is why I probably will never specialise in Surgery: It is all applied anatomy. I don’t understand why it is not enough for me to know that there is a muscle that starts at the lower external point of the skull, extends all the way to the end of the thoracic vertebrae and eventually attaches to the top of your arm.

Why do I have to know that it is the Trapezius Muscle, and that it originates at the superior nuchal line, external occipital protuberance, nuchal ligament, as well as vertebrae C7-T12; and inserts at the lateral third of the clavicle, the acromion and the spine of the scapula?

It seems awfully over-the-top, if you ask me.

By the way, I typed all that without looking at my textbook. Sadly, not only do I have to know that for EVERY. SINGLE. MUSCLE., but we also have to know innervation, blood supply/drainage and actions.

Anyway, you probably get the picture: Anatomy SUCKS, and it is difficult, and I am royally screwed if I don’t  manage to get all this useless information in my head.

Imagine my surprise when I aimlessly walk into a bookshop, ogling the linguistics textbooks no less, and I find possibly the greatest textbook of all time:

For those who don’t know, Netter’s Anatomy Atlas is probably one of the best-known textbooks for students in the health sciences. The illustrations are hand-drawn (the man has quite an interesting life story, actually) and beautiful. A bit too beautiful, maybe. In dissection we often complain that nothing in our cadaver looks like in the Netter.

Studying anatomy by pictures is not new to me. I often print pictures I find online and illustrate/annotate them myself to help me learn. This is usually at the eager beginning stages of a module and is dampened by the difficulty of finding images that print well in grayscale and images that aren’t already annotated.

This book is AMAZING. On each page-spread, it has some information (for example, the characteristics of the muscles), and then the picture to colour:

Also a great perk is that one gets access to the book on StudentConsult.com, which means that you can re-print pages you wish to re-colour. In the picture above I chose not to colour each muscle, but to colour the origins and insertions of the muscles. If I should now decide that I do in fact wish to colour each muscle too, I can simply re-print the above picture.

The past few days I have been working really productively. For the first time I feel like I might do comparatively well in anatomy.I am not the only one – a few of my friends have now also acquired it.

One thing is for sure though: It is by far the most expensive colouring book I have ever owned.


  1. jannie ' hierdie blog is lame' jones says:

    Swot jy medies? Maak jou website toe. Kry vir jou ‘n ou en gaan kyk ‘n movie liewer as om articles oor inkleurboekies op ‘n vrydagaand te post.

    1. Voel jy nou mooi sterk en wonderlik, nie-Jannie?
      1. Hierdie is nie ‘n website nie, dis ‘n blog. Lees bietjie op daaroor.
      2. Ek het ‘n ou. Ek kyk gereeld movies. Kanse is ek het ‘n beter social life as jy; dis gewoonlik hoe dit is met mensies wat dink dis oulik om vennynige goetertjies onder skuilname met fake e-posse.
      Terloops, ek is betrokke in dele van die samelewing wat jy nie eens weet bestaan nie, so miskien is jy die een wat jou ogies moet oopmaak.
      Ander mense geniet die blog; wat vir die rekord ook nie veel tyd in beslag neem nie – die post hierbo het nie meer as vyf minute geneem nie.
      So regtig, nie-Jannie, skrik wakker uit jou patetiese, siniese, Tygerberg-mentaliteit.
      Moet ook nie te lank wag nie – jou comment sal binnekort delete word.

  2. juicy says:

    Beautiful! Jannie has been schooled! I love your blog, its awesome.

    1. Hehe, indeed. Thanks for visiting, I am happy to provide the reading-matter 🙂

  3. medaholic says:

    It gets better, all those obscure medical facts become relevant once a breathing living patient is in front of you. Anatomy, biochemistry, pathophysiology, pharmacology are those abstract subjects that you don’t appreciate until much later.

    For learning anatomy, once you incorporate it into CLINICAL anatomy, you’ll find it more memorable.

    1. True that! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Melody says:

    I can’t seem to find how to print fresh pages on student consult…can you help?

    1. Hi! I loaned my book to someone else years ago and never got it back… so I no longer have my code and can’t get into student consult. I can’t even remember how it worked. I’m so peeved about it 😦

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