How To Draw People Like a Pro

People Are Easy to Draw When you Are Aware of The Basic Forms

And Ignore All The Detail

A stylish Old Man of the 1820's drawn in pen and inkA stylish Old Man of the 1820's drawn in pen and ink

Learn How To Draw People

Learning how to draw people can seem daunting to the beginner with complex forms in clothing and, wrapped inside, is even more complex—is the human form itself.

You have in front of you a blank sheet of drawing paper and a stick of quality charcoal and you are confronted with a live figure clothed in a patterned dress and she is waiting patiently for you to begin.

You have this blank sheet of drawing paper and a piece of charcoal ready to strike. "Where the hell do I start?" You look at the figure of the girl in all its complex forms and shapes and it seems quite baffling. You are confronted with you first figure drawing!

Okay, let's have a go. All drawings can be simplified with a few basic components by dividing the body into segments. Example; where would the middle of the body be? Correct, at the waistline.

At this point, a little rough measuring can be done by holding your pencil vertically with your arm at full length, and placing your thumb where the feet are positioned. Without taking your thumb off the pencil, move the thumb position to the waistline and see if the top of the pencil is in line with the top of the head. If not, adjust the position until you locate the exact halfway point (approximately at waist height.) You place a small mark on your drawing paper as a rough guideline after each measurement.

The next step is to measure the head from the top to the chin. The head fits into the length of the body about seven times.

With the next step you will need a mark on your paper to indicate where the bottoms of the feet are. To recap, you have a mark at the top of the head, the chin, the waistline and the bottom of the feet. Do your proportions look about right?

Basic proportions of female figureBasic proportions of female figure

Look at your model then quickly back to your drawing—then back to the model again. You will notice if it is not quite correct. If not, make an adjustment.

You can get the measurement of the head (from the top to the bottom of the chin) it should fit in about seven times the length of the body. {see image} One important point is to use these measurements as a general guide, not any hard and fast rule. Use your eyes and observe what is there—this then, is the key to getting the correct proportions.

What are the other key points you need to mark in? Well, we have the arms and the legs. The fingers are approximately five head down when the arms are relaxed, so put a mark there and the knees about six.

The width of the body at full face is three heads wide (shoulder width) So draw a line below the waist (where the crotch is, male or female) to the bottom where the feet are marked. (see illustration here)

Past US President in Pencil DrawingPast US President in Pencil Drawing

Important sidebar: Do not add detail, get the proportions correct first and if you are sure they are pretty good, add only small amount of detail. So block in the mass areas first and keep checking proportions.

In all your practicing how to draw people, measure first then check with your eye, eventually you will have no need to measure.

As I've mentioned many times to my students: "Half close your eyes when looking at the model or object you are drawing, by doing this you are eliminating all detail except for the broad mass of shapes, draw that only until you get it right."

I will be creating "How-To-Draw" videos shortly as I've had many requests from my students. This will hopefully kick-start your drawing skills. Meanwhile, drop me a line and I can send you a basic ebook on how to draw, it is free.

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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.

Vardit Kohn
The Hague