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When it comes to drawing subjects, very few are as complex as the human body. While every individual has intimate knowledge of the various parts of the body, putting them down on paper can be challenging. One reason for this is humans have a need to move. As a result, having a subject sit for extended periods of time for a sketch or portrait simply isn’t possible. Ask any photographer to draw a person and they find it difficult to do so, as they are under more pressure to complete the process quickly. However, figure drawing tends to be superior to photographs thanks to the detail involved. Individuals who want to learn more about how to draw humans will find they benefit from taking part in online tutorials or classes that cover this topic in depth.

The Superiority of Life Drawings

A person who draws life figures gains a better understanding of the body, the various components, and how they function as a whole. Furthermore, shadows and highlights must be considered. Photographs rarely bring these elements together at the same time, but a drawing does. As a result, the viewer is given a more thorough understanding of the human body and how it looks, and this information and the skills learned can be of benefit in other areas of life. Following are some tips any person can use when they begin learning how to draw the human body.


Visualization is key when drawing the human form. First and foremost, the artist must understand the pose that is to be captured in the image. One subject may be sitting and another standing. Two people standing side by side will typically have different poses. One may be resting his or her weight on only one foot and another will be turned to face their partner. Even slight differences will affect the way the body must be drawn to obtain an accurate representation. Don’t draw the figure from your imagination or memory. Artists need to visualize the subject in front of them and draw them accurately. Continue working on this skill for great results over time.


An ideally proportioned human male is eight heads wide and two heads high. However, the vast majority of men are not ideally proportioned, and artists need to take this into account when drawing the human body. Furthermore, each part of the body should fall in a specific place in relation to this ideal proportion. However, when drawing a person, artists who are just starting out fail to realize this and their picture doesn’t turn out properly. For this reason, any person taking part in a class that goes into detail on drawing figures should make certain this is a component of the coursework. If it is not, the final drawing will likely not be what the artist envisioned in the previous step and he or she will be disappointed with the effort they put into creating the work.


Artists need to consider more than proportions when drawing humans. Perspective also needs to be taken into account. The human needs to be in perspective with other images in the drawing. This is of great importance when creating portraits, although it will be of help in any drawing. If any object in the drawing isn’t correct in terms of the perspective, the image that is not in perspective will often take on greater importance and may take away from the main subject.

The Pose

Body language is of great importance in how to draw the human body, as it provides the viewer with a great deal of information. The pose of the subject is how this body language is conveyed. For example, when a person is bent forward with their center of gravity pushed forward from the feet, the viewer will either determine the person is running or in the process of falling. This depends in part on the orientation of the pose, thus the artist needs to keep the pose in mind when creating the image to ensure it is delivering the appropriate message.
Individuals who are new to drawing the human body may find it easier to capture images of individuals at rest. As the artist’s skill set increases, he or she may then choose to move to poses that portray movement or ones where the image is captured as the person is engaging in an activity.

The age of the subject also plays a role in the pose that is captured. The reason for this is children find it difficult to sit still for long periods of time. A thorough class on how to draw a human body will explain how to draw both moving and still subjects to ensure the artist has the skills he or she needs to render any drawing desired.

Human Anatomy

A knowledge of human anatomy is of great importance when drawing a human figure. This is much more than knowing the basic body parts, as muscles, skin, and more contribute to the overall feeling of the picture. When a person smiles, for example, their eyes tend to crinkle. If the subject has a huge grin while the eyes remain fixed, there is going to be an incongruity that the viewer will notice, and the image won’t be satisfying.

Individuals who find they are lacking in basic anatomy benefit from taking part in a course or tutorial that covers how to draw a human body. This information will be presented to ensure the image delivers the desired message. Furthermore, the image will be more lifelike and less of a caricature, unless that is what the artist intended.

Many tutorials and online classes break the body down into different parts. A class or tutorial of this type will be of great help, especially when an artist is struggling to properly render one or more body parts. The more parts covered in the course, the easier individuals will find it to overcome the challenge of rending this part and others in relation to it.

Gesture Drawing

Gesture drawings are a great tool for those who are new to figure drawing and those who have been drawing figures for some time now. These loose drawings are used to suggest a pose and give information about the action that is taking place. To create a drawing of this type, a person should work continuously without lifting the pencil. The constant movement of the writing implement helps to provide a pose that is both fluid and unified. Details are of less importance in this type of drawing, as the focus is on the general characteristics of the subject, such as the weight and mass. When creating the drawing be sure to emphasize the areas where the person is more substantial and heavier. With time, you will find that more volume will be filled in. Silhouettes are of great help also in providing information about the subject, thus these two topics should be covered in a drawing class that covers the human body.

The Line in the Human Form

The human body is not made up of straight lines. For example, when an arm is resting at a person’s side, their forearm isn’t vertical. The wrist is slightly in front of the elbow in this situation and the drawing should account for this. Many artists draw the arm hanging straight down and wonder why their image isn’t accurate. The same is true of the spine. While many new artists draw it vertically, the spine actually has more than one bend in it. Pay close attention to the human form when observing a subject to ensure all lines are placed correctly, as very few parts of the body lie straight at all times.

Light, Shadow, and the Human Form

When it comes to light, shadow and the human form, artists need to recognize that there aren’t simply two categories. When drawing a subject, half-tones, reflected light, cast shadows, and core shadows are only some of the elements used to depict light and shadow. A failure to incorporate one or more of these elements in the image will leave it less than ideal. Therefore, when learning how to draw a human body, make certain this is covered in any classes or tutorials that will be used.

Daily practice is key when a person wishes to learn how to draw humans. If you seem to struggle in one area, work on that particular section of the body for most of the session. However, don’t overlook other parts of the body either. It may be something in the pose that is throwing the image off as opposed to one body part. For some, the proportion of one body part is wrong and it throws the whole image off.

Make notes when drawing to remember where you struggle. As you move forward, you’ll find that your skills improve, and you overcome any obstacles that have been holding you back. The key is to draw often to see great results. Those who do so find their drawings become better with time and they learn to appreciate art and the human body more.

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