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
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
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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