How to Draw a Person: Drawing a person becomes much easier as soon as you know how to break the human form down into smaller pieces. Then you can put people in different poses and still have them look realistic, or you can change their proportions if you want them to look more like cartoons.
When you are brand-new to drawing, the easiest way to start drawing people is to get some basic measurements down. The hardest part of drawing people is getting their proportions right. If the proportions are off the person looks like a monster, or just odd. Even artists who are good at drawing portraits – at picking up certain personal traits and showing them on paper – sometimes distort the proportions of a person, and it makes an otherwise excellent drawing look weird.
To get started understanding proportion (a fancy word for measurements), imagine a person standing up, facing you. Break their body down into eight segments, like they were standing next to a height chart, but forget about standard heights and just put a ruler with eight segments next to them.
The top part of their hips would be exactly half their height. The bottom part of their knees (or just their knees if you want to keep things simple) would be one-quarter of their height.
The head is exactly one-eighth of their length. The top quarter of them is just above the center of their chest… about where their shirt would open if they had the top button undone. The bottom of their rib cage would be at the 5/8ths mark.
Okay, so now that you’ve got a basic way to check your body part measurements, you’ve got a way to check what you’ve drawn to see if it measures up (so to speak). But some of you may be saying, “Okay, so the head is one eighth the length of the body… so what?”
Here’s why that matters. You are going to break the body down into some basic shapes now. You can move those shapes around to draw people in different positions. Have you ever seen those wooden models of people in artists’ supply stores? You are going to imagine the people you draw like that and make your first drawing of them as a sketch of all those shapes. Once you start to understand how the shapes work together in the first drawing, then your second drawing will be much more confident, and you will make simpler, more accurate lines.
So, the technique is to let yourself screw up the first drawing. Every writer in the world lets themselves do one (or a dozen) rough drafts, and professional artists let themselves do rough thumbnail sketches of their subjects, too. Only totally beginner artists expect to do a good drawing the first time through. So give yourself a break.
Here are the basic shapes of a body. Make light, loose, sketching strokes to draw these shapes – it is fine if your first drawing looks like a hurricane of pencil strokes… you are finding which strokes work and which ones don’t.
- The head is an oval.
- If you are drawing a face, the top of the eyebrows is at the line that marks the bottom half of the oval. The bottom of the nose is where a line marking the bottom one-quarter of the oval would be.
- The chest, torso, or ribcage (all different words for the same thing) is a larger oval, about twice the width of the oval that makes the head. Many artists also taper the bottom part of the chest, because that’s how the body is shaped. But if you want to keep things simple, a big oval will do.
- The hips are something of a triangle shape. The triangle is pointing down.
- The thighs are extended ovals, stretched out about four times as long as they are wide. The calves are similar ovals, stretched out, about 1/4 shorter than the thighs.
- The knees and elbows and all joints are drawn as small circles.
- The feet can be drawn as slim triangles. The hands can be simplified down to almost mitten shapes, or as very slim ovals.
How to Draw a Person Video Tutorial
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