Drawing the Human Figure

Tips and Ideas
For Drawing The Figure

Drawing the human figure with all its very subtle nuances can be very discouraging when you just can’t seem to get it looking right.

To make it worse, there is the art teacher standing behind you watching your pencil lines without saying a word of encouragement!

It’s off-putting!

Is this your first lesson in drawing the human form?

Let’s have a look at what your drawing materials should be.

Don't go for the cheapest!

Figure DrawingFigure Drawing

Well, as you are just starting it will not be expensive with only paper and a few pencils. You can start off with an HB pencil and a few 2B and 4B pencils – these last two are soft. You must get yourself an el-cheapo sharpener as drawing pencils go blunt very fast.

Your next purchase should be a drawing board to rest and clip your drawing paper down. You can also purchase a drawing pad which has a built-in cardboard support. I personally would not use a pad to start off with, buy a ream of newsprint and clip it to your support board.

Now what are you going to rest your board on? You can’t lie it flat on the table or desk top. So you will need a desktop easel or a full blown floor easel. You can always get a good one on Craig’s List for a few bucks.

Why the easel? You can’t draw on a flat surface because you perspective will go out of whack. Your drawing board has to be within a few degrees off vertical.

This is the only way to draw the human figure. You can then see the figure and your drawing at the same time if you have your board positioned correctly. You can’t possibly draw any other way.  Okay, try this; pin a small sheet of paper on the wall at eye level, stand about 6 – 8 ft away and hold up another letter-size sheet at arms length – then look at the paper you’ve pinned on the wall, then the paper you are holding up. You can see BOTH at the same time. When you lie your drawing flat you can’t possibly see both at the same time.

The next important step is to study the basic proportions of the human form. You can do this by studying Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings to see how he measured the head, torso and legs. Also there are many other artists worth studying to see how they mastered the human form correctly. Studying these artists is worthwhile time spent if you wish to move up to the pro level.

Getting the proportions right in drawing the human form is one of the most difficult skills to master – so it will take time and plenty of practice. When you see the model’s leg pointing towards you, you will think initially that it is impossible to draw. Like anything, it is always easy when you know how to do it.

If you are in a group of like-minded artists, the model will probably be positioned on a small raised platform with all your fellow artists in a ring around the model so you’ll all have a different viewpoint. Some viewpoints can be quite difficult and others much easier. There is usually always an opportunity to move around when the pose changes.

Depending on the instructor, poses can last from 60 seconds as a warm up exercise and then moving to one minute, five minutes and on up to half an hour or more. This gives you plenty of time to study the human form in your drawings and a s skill really work having.

Drawing the human form is a very big subject and these drawing skills take time to master. If you are prepared to put in the effort and time, you will be well rewarded. (check out some of the artists in comics, movies, advertising, animation, fashion, cartoons,  -and so many fields)

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