How to Draw a Nude Woman

If you’ve got someone who’s agreed to pose in her birthday suit, you’re halfway there!

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Up next in How to Draw for Beginners (40 videos)

Learn how to draw with the drawing lessons in this Howcast video series.

You Will Need

  • Art supplies
  • An eye for detail
  • Fixative, or protective varnish to spray on your masterpiece

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Get supplies

    Pick up some art supplies. You’ll need drawing paper with a subtle roughness that will allow mediums like charcoal to stick and stay in place, charcoal, soft pencils, square crayons, and erasers.

  2. Step 2

    Pose your model

    Pose your model. Take into consideration what parts of her body you’d like to focus on.

  3. Step 3

    Work out proportions

    Work out proportions using the 'thumb and pencil' technique. Standing 10 feet from your model, hold a pencil in your outstretched hand and, using your dominant eye, line it up with the top of her head. Now move your finger down the pencil until you come to her chin—that’s her head measurement.

  4. To determine your dominant eye, make a triangle with your hands and center it over a distant object. Look at the object with one eye closed at a time. The eye that allows you to see the object centered is your dominant eye.

  5. Step 4

    Measure height

    Still using the pencil, figure out how many 'heads' tall she is.

  6. Step 5

    Determine body measurements

    Armed with the head measurement, use the following guide for body proportions: height = 8 heads; neck = ¼ head; shoulder width = 2 heads; breasts to belly = 1 head.

  7. Step 6

    Study her body

    Study her body before you start to draw. (Yes, this is one time where it’s perfectly acceptable to stare unabashedly at a naked woman.) Note how her body comes together at joints, and what lines emphasize what body parts.

  8. Step 7

    Start to draw

    Let your eyes move over the contours of her body while your hand draws what you see. Your eyes should be taking in each curve and angle—the way her hair falls, the arch of her back, the shape of her mouth and eyes.

  9. Not looking at the paper while drawing, known as 'blind contouring,' is a good way to start.

  10. Step 8

    Draw in swift lines

    Break your figure down to simple lines that you draw swiftly—don’t commit your pencil to the page for more than a few seconds.

  11. Keep most movements to 5 to 6 second intervals; this will help you see your subject as pieces to a puzzle instead of one overwhelming object.

  12. Step 9

    Pay attention to negative space

    Pay attention to negative space—the space between and around the figure. The shape of the negative space is important as it helps define the outer lines of the subject.

  13. Step 10

    Use shadow and light

    Use the charcoal to emphasize how shadow and light fall on the subject. Does the position of her body cast a shadow over her shoulder or legs? Charcoal is the easiest to smear and conveys shadow perfectly.

  14. Step 11

    Refine

    Refine the edges with erasers. Smear where shade should be intensified and erase where areas should be lightened.

  15. Step 12

    Spray

    If you worked in a smudge-able medium like charcoal or soft pencil, spray your masterpiece with fixative—a liquid varnish that will keep it from smearing.`

  16. Discoveries of the female nude have been found on cave walls from the Paleolithic era—one of the most famous being the Venus of Laussel, circa 20,000 to 18,000 B.C.!

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