This is probably the closest to a straight How-To that this blog will ever do. This is a first introduction to figure drawing.
Figure drawing is important to any artist as most art you’ll do will have a human figure in it. Even with art that doesn’t it can be related to the human figure. In a landscape you can use what you’ve learned in figure drawing from trees and plants, for animals, you’ll handle them like a human figure, for cartoons, you’ll use your knowledge of the human figure as a basis for the character. You can also use figure drawing for studies and experimentation as you get more comfortable drawing the figure. Most importantly, as humans ourselves, we tend to see flaws in human figures much more easily and they’re much worse when they happen.
So all this put together - any artist worth their salt needs to be able to draw humans.
However, humans are damn hard to draw. Seriously, humans, horses, and dragons will give you a lot of trouble. Do not feel bad for having trouble drawing them. Everyone understands. However, just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you get a pass on drawing them.
When setting up, get far enough away that you can see the whole figure without moving your eyes. An easy trick is reaching out with your hand (fingers spread). This is about the area you can see without having to shift your vision. If you need to shift to see part of the figure, you’re opening yourself up to odd proportions, in particular a top half that doesn’t match the bottom.
The first step I use is to get down a ‘skeleton’ of the whole figure. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but just something to show you were all the parts are. This is your map to drawing the figure. Once you have down this skeleton, check your proportions. You should always be checking your proportions, but if you haven’t done it yet, check your proportions on this skeleton. Correct it if necessary.
When drawing your base, you don’t have to use the same method as I do. You can also use simple shapes, volumes, etc. Do what works best for you. You’re the one who needs to follow your map; no one else does.
Another key point is that you need to step back from your work. When we’re working, we tend to lean in close and noodle. This is a problem already, but when we’re in close lose the ability to compare it to the model. So every so often, step back and take a look at how your drawing compares to what you’re drawing.
After this, I add in the structure (the three dimensional), then the anatomy details, and so on.
In general, the first steps are the most important ones. You need a solid foundation to draw on. No one care if you can perfectly draw a knee cap if it’s in the wrong spot.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that figures tend to look stiffer when you draw them, so draw them looser than they appear. This means exaggerate the curves and angles in the body, rather than drawing them straight up and down like we instinctively want to.