Figure Drawing

With The Basics Explained Simply

Figure Drawing

Doesn't it just 'figure' that Figure Drawing is among the toughest art forms to master? Ah, but come on now, don't you like a challenge? (Be careful how you answer that...)

In all seriousness, learning how to sketch the human body is perhaps the best way to sharpen your artistic skills; once you have mastered Figure Drawing, every other art form should come easily. At least relatively so.:)

Here are some basic steps that will help you 'figure out' the details and intricacies of figure drawing:

Go to your local art group where they may have life drawing. If not, study a photo or illustration of the figure that you want to draw, then capture it in your "mind's eye". Capture every line and detail of your subject.

  • You may know the importance of getting proportions correct in Figure Drawing? These vary from person to person; however, the average height of the human form is seven and a half heads. For the purposes of a rendering, knock that number up to eight.
  • The human figure can be drawn in either cylindrical or spherical shapes. And when creating these shapes, be sure to convey—not only their basic formations—but their "values" (their degrees of lightness or darkness).
  • When it comes to drawing the human body, female figures differ considerably from the male. The female, for example, has narrower shoulders, wider hips and tends to carry more fat (no fat jokes, you males!) The male forms are usually taller and larger in size, with more muscle and fewer rounded forms. Of course this will vary from model to model; and remember also that a good number of professional female models tend to be taller and skinnier than the typical woman ("Yeah, right, tell us about it!" the ladies cry).
  • When you draw someone in a sitting pose in particular, recall that old line about the object in the mirror being shorter that it actually is...or something like that. Foreshortening refers to the optical illusion that occurs when an object appears shorter than it actually is because it is angled toward the viewer. This can be a problem for many artists, especially those whose models are 'sitting down on the job.'
  • Creating figure drawings, 'site-seeing' is essential. No, we're not giving you permission to drop your sketch pad and hightail it to an exotic European country on our dime to see all the sights (nice try, though). This just means that you must examine and re-examine the image in your mind's eye; making sure that you capture every angle, line, shape and contour. Make sure that the picture on the page matches the reality of your artistic vision. Then, or so we 'figure,' you will be the artist you've always wanted to be.

The following gesture sketches were done from 30 seconds to five minutes. They capture the moment of the form.



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Your website is beautiful and exudes with goodness—-here is all the info, free of charge, just go and play with it, free your creativity. It would be the perfect site for our 10 year old, who is a keen (and very good) drawer in the sense that she truly enjoys it and will do it in her free time just for fun.

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The Hague