drawing of a strong muscular male human form

Tips & Techniques to Drawing the Human Form


Drawing the human form isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Sometimes it can come out looking, well, stiff and disproportionate if you’re not experienced. That’s exactly why it’s important to practice, and practice often. If you find it difficult to draw the human form, here are a few tips to help you loosen up your hands, tighten your technique and make improvements to your figure drawings.

sketch drawings of the human form in various positions

Loosen Up with Warm-up Drawings

Warm-up drawings are a great way to get started. These drawings are meant to be quick, rough sketches that loosen up your hand and strengthen your mind’s ability to absorb the information you see. As a result, we build and reinforce the relationship between your hand and eyes. It's always good to set short time limits on warm-up drawings though. This way you are forced to move on to the next drawing and quickly study a new pose to sketch. When drawing the human form, try to discover lines of action. These lines of action are meant to account for the entire form and lay the foundation for you to sketch and draw a pose that has energy and fluidity.

drawings of the human neck, head, and face

Capture Action with Gesture Drawings

Gesture drawing is another excellent exercise when learning to draw a live figure. These drawings are meant to be loose, and imply how the form is posed and what action is taking place. It’s good practice not to stop or pick up your pencil, and continually move the pencil to capture the form. This will give you a pose that feels unified and fluid. Don't get wrapped up in to many little details of the form or what your gesture looks like. You can take gesture drawings further by focusing on the weight and mass of the human figure. As you build upon your gestures in a continual fashion, start to build up your gesture lines on various parts of the figure to show where the figure is heavier and more substantial. As your line work builds up, you will begin to fill in more volume to form. Using silhouettes is another great approach to establishing mass and volume of the human figure.

drawings of human hands in various positions and making various gesturesThese quick and loose exercises are a great way to reinforce how our mind interprets and absorbs the proportions of the human body. In turn, you’ll be able to improve our figure drawing skills with time and practice.

Dive Deeper with Basic Shape Drawings

As you become more comfortable using lines of action, gestures and silhouettes to draw the figure, you can begin to dive deeper, by breaking down the form into a series of basics shapes. Drawing with basic shapes opens the door for us to visualize the human form three-dimensionally. For example, you can define the arms and legs as a series of cylindrical shapes. The hands can be drawn as a series of flattened cube shapes. As you practice drawing a variety of poses by breaking them down into shapes, you'll begin to gain a stronger sense of how various parts of the body are able to move.

drawings of human feet in different positions

Ultimately, consistent practice will improve your abilities when it comes to drawing the human figure. Try to put aside at least twenty to thirty minutes daily to practice drawing the human figure. Get more practice with Photoshop tutorials to help you when Drawing the Human Head and Drawing the Human Profile and Figure.