Now that you’ve mastered the basics of drawing, it’s time to begin with the basics when it comes to drawing humans.
Part I: Anatomy
In order to have consistent and fantastic drawing ability, you need to understand structure. In the case of drawing humans, that means anatomy. You have have to know what muscles and bones are hanging out under all that skin, and you have to be able to quickly find and pinpoint visual landmarks on the human body to help simplify the drawing process.
- Anatomy Reference
Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist (pdf)
Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis - pages 57-67
- Hogarth on Anatomy
Dynamic Anatomy by Burne Hogarth (pdf)
Drawing the Human Head by Burne Hogarth (pdf)
Drawing Dynamic Hands by Burne Hogarth (pdf)
- 3D Anatomy
- Other Resources
Planes of the Face
The ‘Anatomy’ tag
- Female vs Male
Even from a skeletal perspective it should be possible to distinguish whether the figure is male or female. The key is that a female’s pelvis bone will be wider than the ribcage from the front view, while a male’s pelvis will be the same width as the ribcage.
- The Masters
Make sure to check out the Master Drawings from greats such as Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo. These masters accumulated a lot of fantastic anatomical drawings in their lifetime and are great sources of inspiration. When looking at their work think about why they drew things the way they did and what shapes they reuse.
- Anatomical Diagrams
This isn’t the most fun assignment, but you’ll learn a lot. Copy (do not trace) diagrams from anatomical books and label them. Focus on major muscles groups while paying attention to shape, form, and how various bit of anatomy relate to each other.
Draw back, front, and side views of the skeleton, torso muscles, leg muscles, arm muscles, and skull.
- Anatomy from Various Angles
Draw the main forms of the body from various angles.
Make sure to draw the pelvis, skull, ribcage, shoulder/arm socket area, and legs from various angles in both skeleton and muscles views. Focus more on shape, structure, and plane changes, rather than detail.
- Anatomy from Life
Using stock photography or a live model (a lot of big art cities have workshops, and there’s always community college modeling sessions) draw the figure with attention on anatomy rather than pose; focus on the way muscles and bones show through the skin.
Part II: Figure Drawing
Now that you have an understanding of the anatomical forms, it’s time to figure out how to bring them all together proportionally within an image plane.
Figure Drawing For All It’s Worth by Andrew Loomis - pages 26-33, 44-51
Henry Yan’s Figure Drawing (Techniques and Tips)
How to Draw Figure by cattusOK
- Stock Resources
Figure Drawing Training Tool
Jason Aaron Baca
The human body natural will want to balance itself in a contrapposto position, which is to say it wants to balance itself along the gestural curve of body by positioning large forms of the body in opposing angles from each other.
In a contrapposto pose, the body is has place it’s weight asymmetrically, so that the balance is shifted towards once side. In such an instance, one of the legs (the leg the weight is on) will be straight while the other is bent. The ankle of this straight leg will also line up along a straight line with the top of the spine (in the below photo this line is not straight because the photo is being taken from below rather than at the same level of the figure).
Just look below and see how the head, ribcage, and pelvis alternate between angles to balance along the curve of the spine. This will also cause alternating compression and stretching.
When drawing the figure first draw a straight line down the page. Divide the vertical height of this line in half; the point will be the top of the pelvis, which is the half-way mark of the body.
Then draw a circle for the head, so that it is correct distance proportionally from the center of the line. After this draw the angles of the contrapposto lines (see above linked demo).
Only after this basic blocking is done should you attempt to add it the shapes and details.
Using Andrew Loomis’ ‘Idealistic’ 8-Head proportion set-up, draw the figure along various planes and angles while using simplified shapes for body forms.
Once you master the ability to control proportions you will more accurately be able to depict different ages, ethnicity, body types, and sex.
- Life Drawing
Using stock photography or a live model (highly recommended), draw the nude figure (seriously, no clothes yet; that comes later) in traditional contrapposto poses (don’t try for dynamic movement just yet) at various intervals (2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 1 hour, etc.) Try drawing the same poses from different angles and directions.
Repeat approximately one million times.